Glimmer

Glimmer is a look into the current development of design with Bruce Mau and his practice as the lens. It gives a brief history and discusses the continuing evolution of design using numerous examples as proof points. All the while it does, what I consider, a pretty good job translating the jargon and buzzwords of the design field into a more usable language.

The book itself is broken down into four sections, i.e., universal, business, social and personal. Each section focusing on two or three key aspects of design within the corresponding context. The first, Universal, section explains how design, as a field, evolved first into being, and then on to being a key facet of today’s daily life. Intermingled with the broad history are the definitions and explanations of some key design concepts such as jumping fences and making hope visible. This practice of calling out and re-iterating design concepts is a constant throughout the book and one of its most beneficial aspects, in my opinion.

The tools of design are not so esoteric that they are difficult to comprehend by non-designers. Rather, the challenge often is their intangibility, such as abductive reasoning or scaffolding. This is where the book excels. It provides great context and examples for the design concepts it presents.

As the book continues the sections become more specific, though almost anything is more specific than “Universal.” Through this progression the books narrows its focus from the ideas of design, to the ideas of design within your life. This evolution implies a call to action. However it isn’t made completely clear that all of these tools can be used in any of the contexts. Thus, while I applaud his contextual focus for explanation, to truly be useful there should have been more emphasis on the potential to bring all of these tools to bear on ones life, no matter the context.

Clearly, this is an introductory book designers. For designers, because there isn’t enough hard data to do the heavy lifting of swaying someone into buying the benefits design has to offer. However, for those previously persuaded and already activated this book is a great gateway to be able to include design in ones life in an informed way.

As a designer myself, I really appreciated the outside-in perspective. I find that kind of perspective is necessary to keep my feet on the ground and remind me that reality is subjective and my understanding is but one means of interpreting it.

The book has a supporting partner site which provides additional information, resources and current news relating to it and design.