Book: Design: The Invention of Desire

May 24, 2016

YaleNews features works recently or soon to be published by members of the University community. Descriptions are based on material provided by the publishers. Authors of new books may forward publishers' book descriptions to us by email.

Design: The Invention of Desire

Jessica Helfand, senior critic in graphic design at the Yale School of Art

(Yale University Press)

Interest in design was once limited to a small community of design professionals. Today, books on "design thinking" are best sellers, and computer and Web-based tools have expanded the definition of who practices design. Looking at objects, letterforms, experiences, and theatrical performances, Jessica Helfand asserts that understanding design's purpose is more crucial than ever. Design is meaningful, she contends, not because it is pretty but because it is an intrinsically humanist discipline, tethered to the very core of why we exist. For example, as designers collaborate with developing nations on everything from more affordable lawn mowers to cleaner drinking water, they must take into consideration the full range of a given community's complex social needs. Helfand offers a look at how designed things make people feel as well as how — and why — they motivate behavior.

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