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There's Nothing Funny About Design
David Barringer

ISBN 9781568988283
Publication date 6/1/2009
6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm), Paperback
256 pages, 160 b/w illustrations
Rights: World; Carton qty: 28; (586.0)

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"...no one has ever written about graphic design in quite this way. The title sounds more like a short story, and at times I found myself reading it as though it were a fictional exploration of a designer's consciousness. When I did, its energy, relentlessness, emotion, and abundance of detail made sense, as did its literary style. Barringer writes entertainingly and has a gift for intricate metaphor...Designers who enjoy ambitious writing will find plenty to admire...--From Rick Poynor's I.D. Magazine review of American Mutt Barks in the Yard (Emigre 68 )

By winning the 2008 Winterhouse Award for Design Writing, David Barringer firmly established himself as the freshest and most interesting writer on the subject. His articles, which have appeared in publications from Print to Emigre, are notable for his strong personal point of view, literary style, and even humor, not always attributes associated with writing about design. In this collection of essays, Barringer's first, he wonders why drug names have so many X's in them, ponders the rise of gory DVD covers, and ruminates on his father's business card collection, pythons, and the human skull--proving again and again that design is everywhere you look for it (but may not have seen), without the powerful magnifying lens of this talented and exciting observer and writer.


David Barringer is the author of the novels American Home Life and Johnny Red and the book of design criticism, Emigre 68: American Mutt Barks in the Yard (co-published by Emigre and Princeton Architectural Press). He has written for Emigre, I.D. magazine, Eye magazine, AIGA's Voice, Details, Mademoiselle, The American Prospect, Nerve, the Detroit Free Press, the ABA Journal, and many others. His writing has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes and the StorySouth Million Writers Award, has appeared in Looking Closer 5, Designing magazines, and Design Entrepreneurs, and has been recognized as notable in the Best American Non-Required Reading 2005 and Best American Essays 2007.

Unlike many other critics of design, Barringer was not trained as a designer (went to U of Michigan for law and passed the bar in Michigan). Though hired as a writer for a UAW-Ford quarterly magazine, he quickly assumed all responsibilities of project coordination, photography, layout, and writing for the magazine there -- and learned about design. He is the designer of the quarterly magazine Opium.


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Editorial Reviews


Designed for Summer Reading, AIGA Voice:
"More than gleaning factual histories, however, readers learn from Barringer a particular stance, one that acknowledges the flux of cultural context, and that design invariably entails the often neglected or acknowledged practice of ideological and cultural Frisbee, grabbing an icon and flipping it back, with a good twist. Barringers real achievement, then, is laying bare some of the rules of this game in essays that never, ever use words like ideological." — Holly Willis

(Un)Funny Business: David Barringer on Design, mediabistro:
"Our highly unscientific survey of designers' summer reading revealed rave reviews for David Barringer's There's Nothing Funny About Design(Princeton Architectural Press) and its Felix Sockwell-designed cover. To read the full review on mediabistro.com click HERE. " — Stephanie Murg

Virb:
"(Barringers) got a way of writing about design like Mickey Rourke might talk about acting: raw, real, and sure as hell ain't pretty." — J. Tyler

Jacket Mechanical:
"the author tells us (in a truly virtuoso essay) everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, about the letter/symbol "X," including the fact that it stands for both everything and nothing, a point that harmonizes nicely with what I had already learned during Salomon Kalou's ill-advised goal celebration."

Funny Ha Ha, Print Magazine:
"Randy J. Hunt of Citizen Scholar Inc interviews David Barringer on the launching of Theres Nothing Funny About Design for PRINT magazines June, 2009 issue.Randy: Your writing definitely uses an autobiographical slant. What's your take on "neutral" design?David: Shift into "drive" and run the light." — Randy J. Hunt

The Midwest Book Review:
"Author David Barringer recieves the 2008 AIGA Winterhouse Award for design writing and his articles on design have reflected both humor and literary criticism. This first collection of his essays considers a range of design puzzles and inquiries and is an outstanding survey of a wide range of design puzzlers perfect for any general or college-level library strong in arts and design." — Diane Donovan

Ellen Lupton: A Conversation With David Barringer, Design Observer:
" Read Ellen Luptons full interview with David Barringer by clicking HEREDavid Barringers book, Theres Nothing Funny About Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) is actually very funny. This collection of new and revised essays presents the graphic design world with a kick in the literary pants. Barringers writing is bluntly personal yet rarely narcissistic; his prose often bristles with the excitement of an angry porcupine, yet its always grounded in rigorous thinking. No one else in our field is producing writing quite like this. As a self-taught designer, freelance writer, and work-at-home dad, Barringer is both an insider and outsider to the design discourse. He makes sense of what designers do and then takes us apart with his needle-sharp verbal tools." — Ellen Lupton

For Your Bookshelf, How Magazine:
"Fresh and funny essays from the winner of the 2008 AIGA Winterhouse Award for design writing."

Architects Journal (UK):
"...a collection of observations on the curious mind of the designer." — Riya Patel

ReadyMade Magazine:
"Turns out there are plenty of funny things about design--and David Barringer expounds on many of them in this thought-provoking collection of essays that covers everything from the ubiquity of skulls to the multifunctional letter X."

Swiss Miss:
"Heres my latest read that had me miss subway stops: Theres Nothing Funny About Design by David Barringer. Davids articles, which have appeared in publications from Print to Emigre, are notable for his strong personal point of view, literary style, and even humor, not always attributes associated with writing about design. In this collection of essays, Barringers first, he wonders why drug names have so many Xs in them, ponders the rise of gory DVD covers, and ruminates on his fathers business card collection, pythons, and the human skullproving again and again that design is everywhere you look for it (but may not have seen), without the powerful magnifying lens of this talented and exciting observer and writer." — Roth Eisenberg

What's a Culture Snob To Do?: Pity the culture snob, as Kindles, iPods, and flash drives swallow up the visible markers of superior taste and intelligence. With the digitization of books, music and movies, how will the highbrown distinguish him- or herself from the masses, Vanity Fair:
"Jacket design is what helped emboss books with a cool factor hitherto lacking. In an essay from his collection Theres Nothing Funny About Design - devoted to book designer Chip Kidd - David Barringer writes, The marketing of hardcover books has gone hard-core consumerist, tricking out books into luxury objects and personal accessories. A designer fit for the times, Chipp Kidd makes books into coveted objects and conversation pieces, seducing the consumer and flattering the reader." — James Wolcott

For Your Bookshelf, How Magazine:
"Fresh and funny essays from the winner of the 2008 AIGA Winterhouse Award for design writing."



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