The most recommended industrial design books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to industrial design, and here are their favorite industrial design books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of industrial design book?

Loading...

Book cover of Populuxe

John Wall Author Of Streamliner: Raymond Loewy and Image-making in the Age of American Industrial Design

From my list on explore American consumer culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author and former journalist with a fascination with design and consumer culture. I’ve been writing about design and pop culture since completing an assignment on Jack Telnack’s Ford Taurus and Thunderbird designs for a national news magazine. My interest deepened when I moved to daily journalism and wrote about Raymond Loewy’s design for the S-1 Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive. When the newspaper industry began cratering in a blizzard of mergers, buyouts, and bad management, I spent 25 years working in media relations at Penn State and Juniata College. I looked for an involving side project as a respite from writing professorial profiles and found safe haven with the life and legacy of Raymond Loewy. 

John's book list on explore American consumer culture

John Wall Why did John love this book?

Populuxe was the first book I read that connected art, consumerism, and industrial design in clear, pointed, and witty language. Hine, an author as well as a critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, covers what he calls “America’s spending spree” decade (1954-1964), by showing the connections revealed by shoppers’ choice of cars, homes, furniture, and appliances. Populuxe resonated for me because Hine wielded the tools of the critic and the historian and explained the art and design influences to be found in dishwashers, tailfins, and Naughyde. My curiosity about why people buy certain products was piqued by Hine’s analysis and showed readers that not all essays on art and design need to drip with impenetrable prose or obtuse insights.

By Thomas Hine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Populuxe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The decade from 1954 to 1964 was one of America's great shopping sprees. Never before were there so many people able to acquire so many things, and never before was there such a choice. Thomas Hine calls it Populuxe--populism and popularity and luxury, plus a totally unnecessary "e" to give it a little class; the word itself is as synthetic as the world it denotes. With the help of more than 250 amazing and amusing pictures in black and white and color (and what colors!), Thomas Hine explores, recaptures and explains this glorious, vanished world of hopes and dreams and…


Book cover of Designerly Ways of Knowing

Marian Petre Author Of Software Design Decoded: 66 Ways Experts Think

From my list on foundational perspectives on design.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ‘pick the brains’ of expert software developers to understand what makes them expert. I’ve spent decades studying how professional software developers reason and communicate about design and problem solving. Informed by the seminal books I’ve highlighted (among many others), my research is grounded in empirical studies of professionals in industry and draws on cognitive and social theory. Observing, talking to, and working with hundreds of professional software developers in organisations ranging from start-ups to the world’s major software companies has exposed actionable insights into the thinking that distinguishes high-performing teams.  

Marian's book list on foundational perspectives on design

Marian Petre Why did Marian love this book?

Nigel Cross was one of the first design researchers to express the notion of ‘designerly’ ways of thinking and knowing – “the application of scientific and other organised knowledge to practical tasks…” – as means of addressing ill-defined and ill-structured problems. 

The attention to ‘messy’ problems, and to the iterative and fluid nature of the design process, is what first drew me to his work; what kept me coming back was a combination of Cross’s clarity of thought, and the way he grounds his perspectives in studies of outstanding designers and real-world examples. 

In this compilation of key lectures and essays, he reflects on the nature of design and discusses what sorts of cognitive skills, strategies, and abilities effective designers bring to bear.  

By Nigel Cross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Designerly Ways of Knowing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revised and edited collection of key parts of Professor Cross's published work, this book offers a timeline of scholarship and research over the course of 25 years, and a resource for understanding how designers think and work. Coverage includes the nature and nurture of design ability; creative cognition in design; the natural intelligence of design; design discipline versus design science; and expertise in design.


Book cover of Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things

Mark Wells Author Of User Experience Design: An Introduction to Creating Interactive Digital Spaces

From my list on thinking differently about UX design.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always had a creative curiosity that involves making, designing, and finding creative solutions to problems, this led me to using digital tools and lecturing in interactive media. As technology, society, and design have developed so to has my knowledge and experience in these fields enabling me to understand and develop the unique skills that are required to create successful solutions in the digital design process. I do this through creating and designing interventions in the physical space to ask questions and raise awareness of our use of technology and the impact on our awareness of time and space and the world around us.

Mark's book list on thinking differently about UX design

Mark Wells Why did Mark love this book?

In this book Don Norman, through human centered design, unpacks and helps us understand the value and impact that the objects around us can have.

He helps the reader see these objects from a fresh perspective. Through looking at the different ‘levels of design’visceral, behavioural, and reflective—and the importance of emotional machines, he explores the shared role that technology, design, and people play in manipulating their environment.

By Don Norman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Emotional Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did you ever wonder why cheap wine tastes better in fancy glasses? Why sales of Macintosh computers soared when Apple introduced the colourful iMac? New research on emotion and cognition has shown that attractive things really do work better, as Donald Norman amply demonstrates in this fascinating book, which has garnered acclaim everywhere from Scientific American to The New Yorker . Emotional Design articulates the profound influence of the feelings that objects evoke, from our willingness to spend thousands of dollars on Gucci bags and Rolex watches, to the impact of emotion on the everyday objects of tomorrow.Norman draws on…


Book cover of In Good Shape: Style in Industrial Products, 1900 to 1960

John Wall Author Of Streamliner: Raymond Loewy and Image-making in the Age of American Industrial Design

From my list on explore American consumer culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author and former journalist with a fascination with design and consumer culture. I’ve been writing about design and pop culture since completing an assignment on Jack Telnack’s Ford Taurus and Thunderbird designs for a national news magazine. My interest deepened when I moved to daily journalism and wrote about Raymond Loewy’s design for the S-1 Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive. When the newspaper industry began cratering in a blizzard of mergers, buyouts, and bad management, I spent 25 years working in media relations at Penn State and Juniata College. I looked for an involving side project as a respite from writing professorial profiles and found safe haven with the life and legacy of Raymond Loewy. 

John's book list on explore American consumer culture

John Wall Why did John love this book?

Bayley’s mastery of the language of design is apparent from his opening introduction to this collection of essays on American and European products. Bayley’s overview is not only essential for understanding design; it’s also a must-read for those who want to write about design. Bayley’s opinions are the gold standard, cemented by the certainty of judgment that comes so easily to British writers. He writes with reverence as well as an incisive point of view about the Eames chair, a Studebaker coupe, and dozens of other milestone products. Among the designer biographies: Wells Coates, Mies van der Rohe, and, yes, Raymond Loewy. It is the pre-eminent introduction to the field of industrial design. Once read, finding his other works (“Harley Earl,” “Ugly,” “Taste,” “Cars,” “Design A-Z,” “Sex,” “Woman as Design,” and other titles) becomes mandatory.

By Stephen Bayley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Good Shape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Industrial design from the first six decades of this century is explored in an anthology of essays on design, hundreds of photographs of consumer products ranging from pens to aircraft, and biographies of leading designers


Book cover of Naoto Fukasawa: Embodiment

Naomi Pollock Author Of Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook

From my list on the best of Japanese product design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I came to architecture through classical archeology, writing about design was kind of like coming home. I made the switch to journalism after moving to Tokyo. At that time, Japan’s economy was going strong, boom cranes were everywhere, and the worldwide appetite for information about new construction was robust. An outgrowth of my success documenting architecture, my interest in design was sparked partly by the chairs and teapots created by Japanese architects but also by the superb array of daily-use goods available in Japan. The dearth of information about these items and their designers led me to cover design at various scales. 

Naomi's book list on the best of Japanese product design

Naomi Pollock Why did Naomi love this book?

Several years ago, when I was living in Tokyo, I needed a blender.

So, I went to MUJI and bought the one they had on offer. It was smaller than a US model, but the components fit together so easily, and the blades did their job so efficiently. I had to marvel. Unsurprisingly, the appliance I purchased was the product of Naoto Fukasawa who has a gift for making ordinary, everyday goods better. They practically intuit the user’s movement. Like my blender, these are things one buys to fulfill a basic need. But then cannot imagine living without them.

Filled with first-person explanations, this book is a window into the mind of one of Japan’s most accomplished designers. 

By Naoto Fukasawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naoto Fukasawa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brand new monograph on one of Japan's best-known product designers, featuring more than 100 of his latest works

Naoto Fukasawa's simple, restrained, and user-friendly products have an extraordinarily universal appeal. Featuring more than 100 of his latest designs, including furniture, phones, watches, fashion, luggage, and accessories, Naoto Fukasawa: Embodiment perfectly captures Fukasawa's perspective on the dynamic interplay between people, places, and things.

It places the designer's products into the context of the contemporary design world and offers a first-hand account of Fukasawa's design philosophy.


Book cover of The Design of Everyday Things

Jamie Steane Author Of The Principles and Processes of Interactive Design

From my list on aspiring UX/UI designers in the digital age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I would like to consider myself an experienced and successful designer, researcher, and educator. I'm an Associate Professor in Communication Design and the Head of Education for the School of Design at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, where I've taught and researched for the last twenty years so I'm super passionate about this subject and love explaining how design works. Before joining academia, I worked internationally as a designer and creative director for numerous prestigious design and media organizations, including Philips, Time-Warner, Windmill Lane Pictures, and WPP in the UK, Ireland, USA, and Southeast Asia. Working in these different businesses and locations gave me a broad perspective on the role and importance of design.

Jamie's book list on aspiring UX/UI designers in the digital age

Jamie Steane Why did Jamie love this book?

This essential book by Don Norman does not need any more plugging, but it would be impossible to leave it out.

The book forms a brilliant introduction to User Experience Design by explaining how the design of everyday objects relies on an intuitive understanding of how they work. Once we translate this thinking from the physical to the digital world, we are halfway there as UX/UI designers.

By Don Norman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Design of Everyday Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious,even liberating,book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The…


Book cover of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

Muhammad Mashhood Alam Author Of Transforming an Idea Into a Business with Design Thinking: The Structured Approach from Silicon Valley for Entrepreneurs and Leaders

From my list on design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been driving innovation in various capacities with world’s leading companies and start-ups for the last 23 years in Silicon Valley. I've been granted six US patents, won two prestigious design awards including the Red Dot award, and published a book on transforming an idea into a business using Design Thinking. What I've learnt is that at the core of any successful business lies the value to the end user who uses the solutions. As I got exposed to Design Thinking earlier on in my career, I realized its immense power in delivering human-centered innovations. I regularly speak at several industry & entrepreneurial events and various business schools around the world. 

Muhammad's book list on design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship

Muhammad Mashhood Alam Why did Muhammad love this book?

This is a book that describes why design thinking can be a powerful tool for innovation and problem-solving.

Brown argues that traditional approaches to problem-solving often rely on linear and analytical thinking, which can be limiting when it comes to addressing complex and multifaceted challenges.

Brown presents a framework for design thinking that emphasizes empathy, experimentation, and collaboration.

I found numerous examples of individuals and organizations in the book that have successfully used design thinking to create innovative solutions to a wide range of problems, from improving healthcare to redesigning public spaces.

I found practical strategies of applying design thinking in life and work.

By Tim Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Change by Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The subject of "design thinking" is the rage at business schools, throughout corporations, and increasingly in the popular press-due in large part to the work of IDEO, a leading design firm, and its celebrated CEO, Tim Brown, who uses this book to show how the techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of business.

The myth of innovation is that brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations come from a process of rigorous examination through which great ideas are identified and developed before being realized as new offerings and…


Book cover of The Psychology Of Everyday Things

Marian Petre Author Of Software Design Decoded: 66 Ways Experts Think

From my list on foundational perspectives on design.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ‘pick the brains’ of expert software developers to understand what makes them expert. I’ve spent decades studying how professional software developers reason and communicate about design and problem solving. Informed by the seminal books I’ve highlighted (among many others), my research is grounded in empirical studies of professionals in industry and draws on cognitive and social theory. Observing, talking to, and working with hundreds of professional software developers in organisations ranging from start-ups to the world’s major software companies has exposed actionable insights into the thinking that distinguishes high-performing teams.  

Marian's book list on foundational perspectives on design

Marian Petre Why did Marian love this book?

This book is a delightful example of what happens when someone engages eyes and mind: it provides important insights into the cussedness of things people design, by looking thoughtfully at simple, ‘everyday things’. 

In doing so, Norman both illustrates the constructive application of cognitive science in understanding design, and provides a compelling argument for user-centred design.

By Don Norman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Psychology Of Everyday Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure our which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this fascinating, ingenious,even liberating,book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology.The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The book presents examples aplenty,among them, the VCR, computer, and office telephone, all…


Book cover of Japanese Design: A Survey Since 1950

Naomi Pollock Author Of Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook

From my list on the best of Japanese product design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I came to architecture through classical archeology, writing about design was kind of like coming home. I made the switch to journalism after moving to Tokyo. At that time, Japan’s economy was going strong, boom cranes were everywhere, and the worldwide appetite for information about new construction was robust. An outgrowth of my success documenting architecture, my interest in design was sparked partly by the chairs and teapots created by Japanese architects but also by the superb array of daily-use goods available in Japan. The dearth of information about these items and their designers led me to cover design at various scales. 

Naomi's book list on the best of Japanese product design

Naomi Pollock Why did Naomi love this book?

I first encountered this book many years before I began my own.

It accompanied a marvelous exhibit launched by the Philadelphia Museum of Art which, sadly, I did not see in person. Arranged by decade, the body of the book features individual products from the 1950s to the 1990s.

This reveals the overlap between different design disciplines and the cross-fertilization of ideas. I love the large photos which pull you in and make you want to read the texts. The supporting essays were contributed by many of the most important design luminaries at work in Japan.

By the time I was working on my book, many of them were already gone. 

By Kathryn B. Hiesinger (editor), Felice Fischer (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shows the evolution of Japanese commercial designs over the last five decades


Book cover of Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

Abby Covert Author Of How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

From my list on for becoming a stronger sensemaker.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an information architect, writer, and community organizer on a mission to make information architecture education accessible to everybody. I started practicing IA in pure pursuit of stronger visual design, but in the two decades since have developed an insatiable appetite for understanding and teaching the practical skills that make people better sensemakers, regardless of their role or medium. The books I chose for this list are all foundational to me becoming the sensemaker that I am today. I offer them as suggestions because they are not the books you will find should you search for “Information Architecture” yet they have all become my go-to recommendations for helping others to strengthen their own sensemaking.

Abby's book list on for becoming a stronger sensemaker

Abby Covert Why did Abby love this book?

A mental model is our unique map of all our knowledge. Each person has their own, and we can’t see each other’s mental models or even see our own. Yet those maps dictate everything about how we show up and how we interpret the world around us. 

Mental Models by Indi Young is the best deep dive into this subject and stands as a must-read for anyone making things for other humans to make sense of. If you are going to succeed in practicing information architecture, you must become increasingly adept at understanding how other people think about the world. 

I recommend this book because it takes something theoretical and presents a solid methodological approach that anyone can grasp and adapt to their process as long as they are curious. This book also served as a major inspiration when writing How to Make Sense of Any Mess, as it…

By Indi Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mental Models as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is no single methodology for creating the perfect product—but you can increase your odds. One of the best ways is to understand users' reasons for doing things. Mental Models gives you the tools to help you grasp, and design for, those reasons. Adaptive Path co-founder Indi Young has written a roll-up-your-sleeves book for designers, managers, and anyone else interested in making design strategic, and successful.