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thoughts and observations about design, information architecture and design history
Saturday 12|21|02
Mini Book Reviews

Quick mini reviews of over 60 books from the staff of Boxes and Arrows. I wrote several mini-blurbs for some of my favorite books that are listed in my Reading List. Check it out and support B&A by buying via the links from Amazon.

Posted by erin at 07:06 PM | in Books :: | Link

Tuesday 08|13|02
Small Pieces

We published a review today of "Small Pieces Loosely Joined", by David Weinberger, over on Boxes and Arrows. It's a good summary by Andrew Hinton of a really interesting book about the Web phenomenon. Over on Salon, Scott Rosenberg, compares the thoughts of Weinberger to those of John Motavalli who recently wrote "Bamboozled at the Revolution". The essay is very interesting and looks at the two views of the web revolution.

Posted by erin at 10:57 AM | in Books :: Magazines :: | Link

Friday 07|26|02
Herbert Bayer

Really nice article about Herbert Bayer's World Geo-Graphic Atlas designed for the Container Corporation of America in 1953 and the exquisite information design he did for it over on Boxes and Arrows this week. Accompanying that is a piece about designing maps from a very pragmatic point of view.

Posted by erin at 08:29 PM | in Books :: Herbert Bayer :: History :: | Link

Saturday 05|11|02
Graphic Design Novel

Eye Magazine online has a nice critique by Rick Poynor about Chip Kidd's novel "The Cheese Monkeys".

This was a terrific, fun novel - especially if you are a graphic designer who went to art school. I wrote a review about it for Amazon right after I read it and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be entertained for an afternoon.

Posted by erin at 05:46 PM | in Books :: | Link | Comments (1)

Tuesday 10|16|01
New Book to Read

Jessica Helfand, of Helfand | Drentel, and prolific writer of thoughtful essays on the topics of graphic design, screen design, typography, design theory and new media, has a new collection of essays out. Published this month, the book can be bought through the Princeton Architectural Press

The site promoting the book has some interesting quotes about the author by notable designers, educators and other practitioners.

I wonder though, about the implementation of a text heavy promotion site using only graphics. Seems anti-web. What if I had all my images turned off in my browser?

Despite that, I have always enjoyed her essays, finding them thought provoking and smart. She is probably one of the smartest writers out there in the space of graphic design and new media, yet she is not really well known within the online community (from what I can see).

Posted by erin at 11:43 AM | in Books :: | Link | Comments (2)

Friday 06|15|01
Moving Forward

If you are interested in managing your career and especially if you are a woman - I highly recommend Be Your Own Mentor: Strategies from Top Women on the Secrets of Success. It is filled with tips, strategies and advice on managing your own career. The book includes hundreds of quotes and anecdotes from many top female leaders out there including Ellen Hancock, Exodus; Anne Mulcahy, president and COO of Xerox Corporation and others. I have been working on my longer term career goals and this book was recommended to me. (It is good for guys too, but many of them get a lot this advice through the "old boys" network and much advice about dealing with the guilt of working with children is not necessarily as applicable.)

The act of thinking about my career goals has really made me stop and think about the path I have already travelled and the path I want to continue on. In school you are working hard to pull together that portfolio that will get you that first job. But they don't tell you much about what to do after that. After Grad school I had a clearer vision about the path - out of advertising art direction and into UI design - making applications and software. But what does that mean? Consulting? Working in-house? Running my own firm? What are the right steps to move out of individual contribution and into design management and is that the right path?

These are really important questions designers (of all disciplines) should ask themselves. I know I just serendipitously moved from one job to another - always looking for something interesting to work on. That is fine for awhile and may be fine forever for some. But I found myself wanting more. Wanting to lead and be in charge and I eventually began managing a team. I found I really liked mentoring other designers and directing projects. I had not planned this but there I was.

I have been writing down goals - both personal and professional - and believe they will help clarify some of the ambiguity. I still want surprises and still want to be able to change my mind but it has made me realize how I need to shape my interests and career direction. I have collected a few books on managing that have come in handy as well. Leading with Soul is a small book of insights. First Break All the Rules has a lot of interviews with managers who buck the system to lead successfully. Orbiting the Giant Hairball is a nice light insight into surviving corporate culture and staying creative. Written by the creative director at Hallmark, I found this one really interesting and useful to keeping perspective. I gave this to all my team members last year.

I would love to know how others in the design field (UI, IA, Graphic Design) have made the transition into managing other designers or even moving into higher corporate positions or running a firm where other disciplines report to you. Was it difficult? What about the desire to keep creating/designing as an individual contributor? What kinds of business info or education was helpful? Who helped you?

Posted by erin at 12:06 AM | in Books :: | Link | Comments (1)

Monday 03|26|01

Just got my first issue of dot-dot-dot, graphic design / visual culture magazine and am very impressed. This is the second issue and is devoted to design criticism and discourse. The second issue has an interesting article about Design Philosphy that looks at gender-oriented perception. I read it and thought I should really be absorbing this, but is is basically unintelligible and too theoretical for my tastes.

There is a very good article by Robin Kinross lamenting over the need to acknowledge and understand our failures as designers. The author talks about how the current trend in magazines and monographs is to gloss over the designer's career and show all the good stuff. Compare this to a passage about El Lissitzky that speaks about his fight with Tuberculosis and working as an artist in a tough political situation / time. This knowledge emphasizes the triumphs of the artist as designer and Kinross speaks to us about the importance and use of failure. The knowing of context is as important as the accolades and triumphs we are used to seeing.

The journal is worth seeking out (can be found at and I am on the hunt for issue one - which is sold out.

Posted by erin at 10:07 AM | in Books :: | Link

Saturday 03|17|01
Reading On The Train

I have spent the last three weeks consulting up in San Francisco. Since I live in San Jose, this means I either have a long drive or I do the train. After experimenting with driving and BART, I opted to take CalTrain the last two weeks of this gig.

What this left me was over 30+ hours of uninterrupted time to myself. So I have been reading and catching up on the pile of books that I had been collecting and wishing I had time to read.

Having large chunks of time to read like this has allowed me to move from one book to another fairly quickly and when you do that, it allows you to see parallels and contrasts in the nature of the content.

Posted by erin at 08:53 PM | in Books :: | Link

EM Design is home to the resume and portfolio of Erin Malone.
site updated every now and then :: copyright 1995-2007 Erin K. Malone
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DUX—Five Lessons Learned

Coloring Outside the Lines

Modeling the Creative Organization

Coming of Age

Talking With Jesse James Garrett

The Tool Makes the (Wo)man

AIGA Experience Design Summit #5 - Recap

AIGA Experience Design - past, present and future: An interview with Terry Swack and Clement Mok

Summit Beginnings: Saturday

Chicken Run: Summit Closing: Sunday

design history articles
Foreseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush

Learning from the Powers of Ten

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