Entries in Maker Culture (1)


Design Direct: Roger Ball's New Book


Roger Ball sent me a copy of his new book, Design Direct, the other day. I'd been aware of Roger's work on the Size China project, and also through my friend Lorraine Justice the work that Hong Kong Polytechnic students were doing in the area of designing products, having them manufactured, and selling them. 

Roger's book starts with a brief history of mass production and the traditional ways designers have worked with manufacturers, and then outlines the current technologies - from digital design and manufacturing to social-media-based marketing and sales channels - that designers can leverage to design, manufacture, and sell products to customers. This isn't news to us (we've watched Scott Wilson's TikTok and LunaTik Kickstarter project, and others like it, with interest), but Roger's book is a start-to-finish, thorough examination of the background, issues, and possibilities of this space for designers.

Some of the material will be known to designers, but not necessarily to design students, which makes me think that this will be a very popular book for beginners in our field.

Other chapters, like Chapter Two: "Why are there no designers who are CEOs?" would interest all of us (I should quickly add that Ball qualifies this provocative question - of course there are examples of designer-led companies - but they are few, and his discussion of why this is is valuable). 

Currently, a team of students in my research course are taking on the topic of the DIY / Maker culture and the potential opportunities there for designers, and this book seems like it will be a good resource for them. 

It looks like others think so as well. Don't know what Roger's initial run was, but currently the paperback edition is sold out on Amazon. The Kindle edition is not, however (though there don't seem to be any illustrations in the Kindle edition - what a mistake!! Kindle readers can see some examples here).

I'd be interested in what you all think.

Update: The illustrations are included - at "location 2384." But I still ask Kindle - Why not put links in the text where Roger references the plates? Sheesh.

Another update: Whereas Amazon says they're sold out of the print version, it looks like you can buy a copy directly from here.