I was going to recommend Haptic as my book of the year. A beautifully designed book that accompanies an exhibition of design work that toured the world recently, it features the work of Naoto Fukasawa, Shigeru Ban, Jasper Morrison and others who were each challenged to explore the design experiences of senses other than sight (although inevitably this too plays a role). The work is beautifully sensitive, although the book seems very hard to get hold of. I accidentally came across a copy at the RIBA bookshop in London. They seem to sell them online through the Lighthouse in Glasgow.
I said I was GOING to recommend this book, but it’s been trumped by another book which is visually very similar, Designing Design by Kenya Hara. Hara is a very well known designer in Japan, and art director at Muji, the famously minimalistic “no label” brand that sells products primarily for the home. He also organized the Haptic exhibition. His book is far more widely available, and contains not only most of the Haptic work but also design pieces from a variety of other exhibitions, including re-design, an exhibition he organized in 2000. In this event he invited 32 designers to rework established, everyday products.
So the book is full of examples of wonderful product design, in addition to giving a sense of the deep philosopyy and thoughtfulness that drives Hara’s work.
If you’re a fan of Fukasawa, Ban, Morrison or any of these other subtle workers of the design arts then this book is a must have.