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Designing for the Common Good
Book by Kees Dorst, Lucy Kaldor, Lucy Klippan and Rodger Watson
BIS Publishers (softcover, 216 pages)

What if our public sector could break free from knee-jerk controls to help prevent crime? Fresh thinking could open up cities to new ways of living that address safety, yet maintain individual freedoms. In this visually engaging book, the team behind Sydney’s Designing Out Crime research centre shares 21 projects that do just that, from reducing theft in stores through a better shopping experience to ensuring that young revellers get home safely along bike routes.

The authors contend that a barrage of security scares from the media makes personal safety a big concern in our collective conscious, but more laws or security cameras aren’t always the fix. For the local government of Sydney’s party-central Kings Cross neighbourhood, it was borrowing ideas from music festivals to support a vibrant nighttime economy: taxi stands, outdoor lounges, bright signage and a “safe space” for info, help or first-aid. Changing perceptions and embracing human nature are common threads in the book’s case studies – and its cup-half-full philosophy. By Catherine Sweeney

Twenty Over Eighty
Book by Aileen Kwun and Bryn Smith
Princeton Architectural Press (softcover, 224 pages)

“I want to die at my desk. The idea of retiring – even the word itself – it’s terrible.” Such was Milton Glaser’s response when asked by the authors of this insightful book if he had ever considered retirement. Still going strong at 87, the graphic designer, illustrator and educator is one of 20 notables – each over the age of 80 and still engaged in their
fields – who explain in this inspiring read why and how they keep the creative juices flowing.

Other profiles include industrial designers Charles Harrison and Richard Sapper, architects Ricardo Scofidio (of Diller Scofidio + Renfro) and Phyllis Lambert, furniture designer Jens Risom, and urban planner Jane Thompson. Many also offer insights into how they perceive their own influence, both past and present. Kwun and Smith manage to temper their “nerdish adoration” to deliver intimate and absorbing interviews that, at a time when we are always looking for the new and the next, remind us of the value of experience. By Kendra Jackson

Podcast by Jaime Derringer and Amy Devers

It’s billed as “a podcast about design,” but Clever is really about designers. Rather than explore issues facing the industry, amiable hosts Jaime Derringer and Amy Devers get to know the people who shape it. A typical episode spends the better part of an hour in dialogue with a single designer, beginning with childhood, then moving on to life and career milestones. The approach leads to deep conversations, and that’s where Clever shines: the discovery of who a designer is as a person – their influences, their take on life – can reveal their work in a whole new light.

Joe Doucet’s concerns about what he’s losing to the digital revolution, for instance, give insight into his BlackBox concept piece, which makes a printed record of text-message conversations. And Jonathan Adler’s revelation that pottery was his way of finding peace amid a difficult youth helps explain why he pursued it with such single-mindedness. Clever may be somewhat uneven as a result of its dependence on these stories, but it’s satisfyingly thorough. By David Dick-Agnew

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