All Posts in Book of the month

20th November 2016 - No Comments!

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

I know, I know... it's the third Gladwell's book that I'm reviewing, but I can't help myself. They're just so easy to read and feed you with so much relevant information to better understand how we perceive people and society that every time I start one of his books I feel that everybody should be aware of the things is talking about.

In this one, David and Goliath: underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants, Gladwell addresses how disadvantages can actually bring better outputs than when you think you have everything you need to accomplish your goals. Needless to say, that his first story is about David and Goliath and what made David the winner in this, apparently, uneven battle. Gladwell has the great habit of giving you inputs and knowledge through stories, and from story to story, he keeps adding up and referencing back what we've learned until that point of the book. That makes incredibly easy to understand the different points of view about a story that you know. This book made think about decisions I've made so far and situations that I felt were not worth to try, simply because I put the pressure of thinking that I was not able enough to do something.

There will always be someone with better skills than you, but that doesn't mean that you can't be better than him. It's about knowing how to do something out of nothing and many times, how to use creativity in order to solve a problem through the lack of assets.

Making something out of nothing seems impossible, but it can actually achieve better results than what you think.

31st October 2016 - No Comments!

Herb Lubalin: Typographer

I'm not sure when was the first time that I've heard about Herb Lubalin. I'm positive that it wasn't at Uni because I'm sure that as a type afficionado I wouldn't forget his name. What I do remember is the familiar feeling I had when I first saw his work knowing that he was the responsible for it.

This book is one of the best ways to be familiar with him from a personal to a professional level. Unit Editions did a great work (again) in producing a book that allows more information than what we thought could be available making absolute justice to the content through the way this book was beautifully designed. There are many things to be said about Herb Lubalin, but you will read far more interesting stuff about him than in this post. If this post made you google Herb Lubalin... job done.

Regards to being a great typographer, Herb once said: "I'm terrible because I don't follow the rules". Well, the truth is that his work set a new standard contributed to projects like Gastrotypographicalassemblage.

Please have a look at this book, or at least at his work. Because if I had to pick a favourite, that would be him.

16th September 2016 - No Comments!

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

“This doesn’t feel right. I don’t know what it is but this is still not it.” How many times have you heard this? And in the end, how many times you end up agreeing on changing the direction of something based on such vague feedback? Well, that’s what this book is about. Blink, the art of thinking without thinking takes you through a journey of many stories from a fake greek sculpture to murderers in Brooklyn (hint: they were cops and also good people).

A book that makes you think why you shouldn’t always rationalise every step you take and how your snap judgement can even save your life.

This is a great book if you’re curious about the human mind and the way it works when we make a quick judgement/decision. You can practice having a better snap judgement, the same way you craft your other skills [like calligraphy!]. Getting into a stream of self-consciousness and self-awareness can help you to make quick (and many times) better judgements in your (not only) design decisions.

Overthinking and building decks after decks to try to sell an idea or a visual is not always the answer if in every deck you’re just rationalising everything.

Gladwell gives a great example. It’s easier to make a face recognition exercise and identify someone you saw last year than it is to describe with words how does that person looks like. Because that’s when the right and the left side of the brain clash and that’s when rationalising tricks you.

To sum up, don’t be mad if someone with more experience tells you: “Sorry, I don’t know why, but I’m not feeling it… I don’t think this is right, but I’m not sure why.”

There’s a big chance that they are right with their judgement. But the more you practice your craft and your relationship with the people you deal with, the easier it will get to feel what they feel and be a bit more open to vague and, apparently, unhelpful replies.

28th August 2016 - No Comments!

Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Cover

As a graphic designer, when looking at record covers is pretty obvious what the word cover means: an artwork that will give you the first hint on what you're about to listen. But obviously, it has never been like that. The vinyl cover was exactly what the word cover means: to protect something against loss, damage or accident.

It was while at Columbia Records in 1938 that Alex Steinweiss, as the art director suggested an artwork for every new music release of the company. They were brave enough to take the risk and give a try at Steinweiss' suggestion leading to an 800% increase in sales in that year.

When looking at older music collections, I can't help but notice, and question myself, why most of the Jazz albums have such a modernist approach where constructivism, Bauhaus or De Stijl influences are inescapable.

Nowadays it seems hard to make a new invention, but there was nothing new about what Steinweiss did back then if you think about a music poster.

They already existed, Steinweiss just asked himself: What if I put a poster on the cover of the vinyl?

In many situations we find ourselves dealing with impossible cases and most of the times we just need to reframe our problem and bring new questions to the table.

With great success and a huge worldwide impact, that was Steinweiss did.

30th June 2016 - No Comments!

What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack

As one of the most powerful man in sport, Mark H. McCormack gives us great insights on people, sales and negotiation and running a business. This book has 3 parts and you will soon realise that you don't have to damage other people's goals to give priority to yours.

Establishing a dialogue, defining milestones and objectives throughout an exercise based on experience and intuition, this book will help you to better understand that make decisions based on your gut is far from being wrong. There's no such thing has a right procedure that you can take and use but there's a way to understand which things are involved in the business world and how can you define your own way of finding solutions and raise the appropriate questions.

What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School is something that you will learn with your life experience and this book will definitely open your eyes on how to manage expectations and be successful in your business.

Hint: Being successful shouldn't be about getting rich, it has a closer relation to what drives you and how helpful your business can be to people. If you do that right and avoid being sloppy with your billing, money will come in.

I understand that if you're a designer is not easy to feel motivated to read this book, but designers are only needed because there are many people who don't design and it's great when you understand how to deal with them and their problems.

Laughter is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business tension: so be the one who controls it.

30th May 2016 - No Comments!

Slanted 27 / Portugal

For this month, I'll make an exception in the book section bringing you a very special Slanted Magazine about Portugal.

Slanted is well known for publishing a great body of work on typography and graphic design. In their #27, they interviewed most of the prominent Portuguese designers, type designers, illustrators and design studios. It is great to see so many talented friends in the spotlight through their work and words. But besides work, there were 3 very interesting and insightful articles on Austerity (by Violeta Santos-Moura), the Pioneers of Portuguese Design (by Mac Cormack) and few others that will definitely help to contextualize the Portuguese design scene.
Read more

30th April 2016 - No Comments!

The Art of War by Sun Tzu


Dating from the 5th century BC, The Art of War is still a reference not only in a war context, but for life in general. As one of the most important books on military strategy and tactics, this book goes beyond war and its strategies and tactics. 13 chapters with rules that you may or may not disagree with, but one thing is for sure: it doesn't matter what you do for a living, this book will guide you to the importance of planning, strategy and context. Read more

31st March 2016 - 2 comments

Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell


Outliers is one of those books that you will probably stumble upon every now and then when looking for "books that I've read" or "books that everyone should read" and don't be afraid of going with the flow because there's a big chance that Gladwell will turn into one of your favourite writers.

With great and useful insights that will help you to understand what makes someone successful, it will demystify every preconception that you have ever had about this theme.

In a very personal note, this book made me look at my life with a different and fresh perspective. We are taught to think about our future, and what we want to do, to be, to visit, etc. Malcolm analysis how the year, the day and the place you were born and where you lived in your early years of life will define most of your personality and, most likely, your achievements. It's a book that made me embrace my past experiences, while understanding how people like Bill Gates, The Beatles and Bill Joy were/are so successful.

Gladwell, points out the connection between sense of opportunity, risk and motivation in one of the most brilliant books that I've recently read.

In case you're still wondering, this book is not about the need to be intelligent to be successful and on this note I will finish this with one of many brilliant metaphores that you will find in this book:

[...] IQ is a lot like height in basketball. Does someone who is five foot six have realistic chance of playing professional basketball? Not really. You need to be at least six foot or six one to play at that level, and, all things being equal, it's probably better to be six two than six one, and better to be six three than six two. But past a certain point, height stops mattering so much. A player who is six foot eight is not automatically better than someone two inches shorter. (Michael Jordan, the greatest player ever, was six six after all.) A basketball player only has to be tall enough — and the same is true of intelligence. Intelligence has a threshold.

Malcolm Gladwell

12th February 2016 - No Comments!

The Language of Things by Deyan Sudjic

I bought this book and the Design as Art I went to The World of Charles and Ray Eames exhibition at the Barbican. I would like to read these two books because they reflect on a quite specific theme: design and culture. The Language of Things turned out to be a great book to understand how design is able to influence and take part of someone's opinion or choices. This book is great because it makes you reflect on very specific matter with great examples that most of the times we applaud and nod our heads without questioning.
I highly recommend this book because it helps to define the language of the world we live in and what we can do (or ask) to better understand it and, as a designer, to produce better work. Which doesn't need to be necessarily useful.

If I had to elaborate a question based on this book I would ask: Why does design need to be useful? And if it's not necessary is it still design?

Most of you know Starck's citrus-squeezer is not highly functional but that was not his point:

"It's not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations." Philippe Starck

It's great to know the how but it's also important to know the why. And sometimes the why can be something greater than what we are designing at that moment.

27th January 2016 - No Comments!

Design as Art by Bruno Munari

Finally, I've read this masterpiece by Bruno Munari. There's not much more that I can write about this book that someone else hasn't written better than me. This is an absolute classic with timeless thoughts. Quite interesting book if you're keen into behaviour towards design. Munari throughout this book is able to get you wondering why certain day-to-day objects are the way they are and look the way they are. Makes question what's useful through unbelievably simple insights. Questioning art and the artists position towards what's happening in the society comparing the designer as the artist of our times. Where art is no longer something just for the 1% but for the masses. This book was written 40+ years ago and this thought is still relevant. A book that it's worth your time and that you will probably revisit again and again.