Whether you see them as an invaluable source of creative inspiration or little more than a self-indulgent exercise in vanity publishing, there's no doubt that designer monographs have always attracted their fair share of attention from the global design community.
For some creatives, it's all about distilling the essence of their design approach and philosophy onto paper; others are cover-to-cover eye candy; most are somewhere in between.
The books collected here cover the spectrum, and between them get inside the heads of some of the most iconic and respected designers of the last 50 years.
You'll find this book on the must-read list on every self-respecting graphic design course, and with good reason. Neville Brody may now be president of D&AD and head up Research Studios' global studio network, but it was arguably his 1980s heyday that had the biggest impact on contemporary graphic design.
First published in 1988, The Graphic Language of Neville Brody explores the thought process behind some of his best-known work, including his genre-defining art direction of The Face magazine.
Like Brody, Peter Saville famously built his reputation in the 1980s with iconic album artwork for Factory Records-signed bands such as Joy Division and New Order - but this 2003 publication was the first to chronicle his career.
Starting in 1978, it inevitably covers the Factory era in detail but also explores Saville's design and art direction for the fashion and advertising industries, taking in brands such as Dior, Stella McCartney and London's Whitechapel gallery.
If Brody and Saville defined the 1980s, Carson conquered the 1990s with his unconventional approach to page design, using distorted type and fragmented imagery that played with notions of legibility - particularly during his tenure as art director of Ray Gun.
He went on to work with a stellar client list that includes Pepsi, Nike, Armani, Levi's, Sony and MTV. While the approach outlined in The End of Print is very much of its time, the insight that the book provides into the iconic surfer/designer's process is unrivalled.
An iconic studio for the modern age, Non-Format is a fruitful transatlantic collaboration between Oslo-based Kjell Ekhorn and US-based Brit Jon Forss. This 2007 monograph is packed with awe-inspiring imagery and insight into the duo's creative process over five years between 1999 and 2003, from advertising work for Coke and Nike to stunning art direction for The Wire magazine.
Austria-born, New York-based designer Stefan Sagmeister has hit the headlines a couple of times in the last year with his nude promotional shenanigans, but these two monographs, published in 2008 and 2009, are all about his creative approach and output.
The former revolves around 21 thought-provoking phrases, transformed into typographic works for various clients around the world. The latter, fully illustrated with a red PVC slipcase, spans 20 years of his graphic design in depth, and the two complement each other excellently.
Alan Fletcher, the legendary co-founder of Pentagram, penned various thought-provoking tomes during his illustrious graphic design career, but The Art of Looking Sideways is perhaps the best known – questioning the way designers think about everything from colour to composition.
Picturing and Poeting explores the link between imagery and meaning through a series of visual mind-teasers, games and visual puns, assembled from his personal notebooks and diaries, while Beware Wet Paint is a more conventional monograph, looking back over 35 years of inspiring work and putting it all in the context of Fletcher's remarkable thought process.
Heralded by many as one of the fathers of modern branding, Paul Rand has several inspiring books to his name. Design, Form and Chaos is unfortunately out of print, but if you can track down a copy it's worth it to immerse yourself in his talent for simplicity, and to explore the thinking behind some of his best-known identities.
A Designer's Art, meanwhile, probes more deeply into the process of graphic design in general: why it's important; the impact it can have on society; what works, what doesn't, and most importantly, why.
Written by Tibor Kalman and edited by Peter Hall and Michael Bierut, this is another notoriously hard-to-obtain volume which, like Rand’s Design, Form and Chaos, is sadly out of print. Dedicated to the visionary editor-in-chief of Colors magazine and creative director of Interview, Perverse Optimist is a weighty tome by any standards, and packed with high-impact images and insightful analysis of the art direction process behind them.
13. Pentagram: Marks
Unsurprisingly, given its status as arguably the world's most famous design agency, Pentagram has attracted its fair share of monographs over the decades: seven so far and still counting.
The first two - The Work of Five Designers and Living By Design - were both published in the 1970s, followed by Ideas on Design in 1987, The Compendium in 1998 and Book Five the following year. They’re all packed with case studies and analysis of the partners' fascinating work across the globe.
The most recent two have a very different approach. Published by Phaidon in 2004, Profile: Pentagram Design is a collection of critical essays exploring the inner workings of the bureau, while Marks simply reproduces four hundred of the hugely diverse identities that the agency has created since 1972. Collect all seven for an incredible cross-section of design history.
It was a long time coming, but this definitive 528-page monograph of the iconic Parisian duo Michaël Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak, aka M/M (Paris), was worth the wait.
Chronicling two decades of stunning work spanning the worlds of music, fashion and fine art, it's presented as a reshuffled alphabetical dictionary, starting and ending with M. The studio's highly distinctive, unique approach to type, print design, drawing and photography shines throughout.
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Have we missed your favourite book off our list? Remind us about it in the comments!