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Literary Aestheticism: Our Designers’ Reading Lists

They say you can tell a lot about a person just from their bookshelf. Here is an inside look at our design team’s current reading lists!

Our UX Designer, Ben Markowitz, draws much of his design inspiration from comic books:

“I enjoy comics for the intricacies in design and layout more than anything. Comics are a form of visual story telling which is much different from most other mediums; the artists (much like web designers) work elegantly within the constraints of the medium to create the most effective and moving experience for readers. Balancing artwork with content, they leverage limitations in usable space by using only the most poignant and effective elements to tell the story.

I approach UX design in a similar manner: define the optimal experience for users using the minimum set of design elements. This isn’t minimalism, it’s just responsible design. I aim to deliver a defined and powerful experience to the user by removing unnecessary complexity.”

  • V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
  • Batman: Year 100 (Paul Pope)
  • Geek Dad (Ken Denmead)
  • The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics (Dona Wong)
  • Graphic Design for the 21st Century (Charlotte & Peter Fiell)
  • Digital Dreams: The Work of the Sony Design Center (Paul Kunkel).
  • Collectors Guide to Comic Books (Hegenberger)
  • Batman: Year One (Miller)
  • Watchmen (Alan Moore)
  • Batman: Animated (Paul Dini)
  • ABC3D (Marion Bataille)
  • The Best American Comics 2006 (Harvey Pekar)
  • AREA
  • Watching the Watchmen (Dave Gibbons)

You know him as Chris Tate, our Director of UI, but we know him as Batman. His presence is sophisticated, his designs are rad, and his reading list? A thoughtfully cultivated set of inspirational pieces:

  • Universal Principles of Design
  • Monocle Magazine
  • The Social Animal (David Brooks)
  • Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design
  • How Pleasure Works (Paul Bloom)
  • How We Decide (Jonah Lehrer).

Here is Ted O'Meara, our Director of UX, whom we know as Superman (no, really).

As a graduate student at UMBC in the Human-Centered Computing program he focuses on developing software for the cognitively impaired. Ted's reading list is a reflection of his passion for creating accessible software through intelligent design:

  • Generative Art (Matt Pearson)
  • How We Decide (Jonah Leher)
  • Envisioning Information (Tufte)
  • Design Pattern TRABING?: Touchscreen-based Input Technique for People Affected by Intention Tremor (Evaluation, 2010, 267-272)
  • The design of a real-time, multimodal biofeedback system for stroke patient rehabilitation (MULTIMEDIA 2006, 763)
  • …and Raising Unicorns.

Ask Ted about his tragic unicorn history at his next conference.

Jurgen Altziebler is our Managing Director of UX and he always means business. His seriousness is visible within his designs; nothing less than pixel-perfect will do for this designer.

His reading list might reveal his Austrian-born penchant for modern, light designs balanced with high functionality and subtle beauty.

  • Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams (Gestalten)
  • Grid Systems in Graphic Design (Josef Muller Brockmann)
  • Designing Universal Knowledge (Gerlinde Schuller)
  • Ein Handbuch, Gestaltung, Typografie, etc. (Claire & Damien Gautier, Published by Niggli)

Javier Rios, our UI designer, is unambiguous and systematic. Maybe even a little crazy. (Ask him how many times he's been hit by cars while running!)

The practical, heuristic lineup of books in his reading list exemplify his approach to design: functional, clear designs that create a straightforward user flow path.

  • HTML5 for Web Designers (Jeremy Keith)
  • Responsive Web Designer (Ethan Marcotte)
  • Mobile First (Luke Wroblewski)
  • Designing For Emotion (Aarron Walter)

Style: The Main Ingredient

Based on their books alone I would conclude our design team is a group of calculated, discerning, artful design addicts. One thing can't be ignored though – they've got some serious style. It's that style that infuses every design they create, every user experience they develop, every carefully colored pixel on a page. As A Softer World once pointed out in their comic, "Everybody dies. Every single person. So, style counts."

Style counts.

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