• 04.29.10

about the “ah ha” moment

A book review; One thing can certainly be said about Warren Berger’s new book Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even the World: he leaves no recent design stone unturned in his search to understand what design is all about. This well-researched book is full of dozens of stories virtually ripped from the headlines, as it were, of the current global design zeitgeist. Many of the passages provide an interesting and provocative collection of factoids and observations. The title of the book, Glimmer, is meant to highlight the moment of inspiration that every designer experiences when the answer to a problem presents itself. Throughout the book the author wisely uses the Canadian-born design luminary Bruce Mau as a centering device, returning every third or fourth story to Mau’s view on design and design thinking. Having recently staged the provocative and hugely influential design show Massive Change and having penned a number of influential manifestos around design thinking and change in the world, Mau’s insights are impressive. One of the true delights of this book are Mau’s small sketches that capture the essence of and give validity to many of the author’s key observations. Throughout the rest of Glimmer most of the examples are told from a designer’s point of view and most are success stories. Not a bad way to spend a few hours of reading, but to this reader at least perhaps also not as enlightening as stories of hardship and constructive failure might be. In addition to Mau, the book includes a wide range of creative thinkers, including non-designer design thinkers such as Lee Clow from the world of advertising to CEO Ray Davis from banking. From Umqua to OXO most of these stories we’ve heard before, but how can we not revel once more in their telling, especially in such an earnest and well-articulated context. P&G, Lafely, Claudia, they are all here. Design is the new advertising. Advertising is the price to be paid for not being creative. Let’s acknowledge that for many these stories are new, even though they’re not for the design community. For me the most interesting part of the book is the third section on social responsibility. It feels fresh and new and names new original personalities and examples. At the end of the day how can it hurt to have another well-written book on design out there ready to assail any unsuspecting business type who has never heard the OXO Good Grips story? Assuming there is someone on the planet that hasn’t, it really can’t. The book has its charms, every now and then injecting a sense of humor and filled with the idea that design is magic and that designers are a special breed. Glimmer is a potpourri of design nuggets told by a capable and respectful fan. Despite some missteps, not a bad way to spend a bit of free time and definitely a worthwhile primer for someone unfamiliar with the practice. —Mark Dziersk, FIDSA Brandimage – Desgrippes & Laga

About the author

Mark Dziersk is Managing Director of LUNAR in Chicago. LUNAR is one of the world’s top strategic design, engineering and branding firms.