Creatives, if you’re looking for some fresh sources of inspiration, this one’s for you. We’ve rounded up a shortlist of new and upcoming releases that we think would be exciting additions to your bookshelf. Some will give you literary and visual relief from the rollercoaster that 2020 has been. Most will light a fire under your seat, handing you the dose of optimism and urgency you’ll need to forge ahead. All will offer you tools to become better humans and designers — just what the doctor ordered. Keep reading for all the details, and feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments!

Bruce Mau: MC24

by Bruce Mau

About the author: Canadian designer Bruce Mau is a world-leading visionary and co-founder of Massive Change Network, a cross-disciplinary project committed to exploring ways in which designers can ‘do good’.

About the book: Developed over the past three decades, this expansive, thought-provoking book explores 24 “global, generous, and galvanizing principles to overhaul the way we think and to inspire massive change.” It features essays, observations, and work by Mau and other game-changing architects, designers, artists, scientists, environmentalists, and thinkers of our time. 

Why we picked it: Mau’s first book in over a decade, MC24 is a rousing call to action which promises to be both practical and playful. If you’re a designer looking for an antidote to boredom and cynicism, this is it.

Learn more: uk.phaidon.com/store/design/bruce-mau-mc24-9781838660505/

The Art of Disruption: A Manifesto for Real Change

by Magid Magid

About the author: Magid Magid is a Somali-British activist, writer and former elected politician. A fierce advocate for migrant rights and climate justice, Magid was recently named one of TIME’s 100 rising stars shaping the future of the world. 

About the book: Magid arrived in England as a child refugee of the Somali civil war. In 2018, he became the youngest-ever Lord Mayor of Sheffield, making headlines for his creative and unapologetic approach to politics. The Art of Disruption is his first book, and reveals the 10 commandments he swears by in his life and work, offering a guide to active citizenship in the 21st century.

Why we picked it: 2020 has been a year of wake-up calls. Many of us are determined to rethink the broken systems that no longer serve us, and build a fairer world in its place. Magid’s book offers some valuable insights into the kind of creative leadership it takes to make social and political revolutions accessible to all.

Learn more: amazon.co.uk/Art-Disruption-Magid/dp/1788702905

Next Nature: Why Technology is our Natural Future

By Koert van Mensvoort

About the author: Dutch artist and philosopher Koert van Mensvoort is one of the most fascinating and forward-thinking figures in the design field today. As creative director of the Next Nature Network, he is best known for his speculative design fictions, which fuse together art, biology and technology.

About the book: “To cope with the immense challenges facing the world today, we need to go forward, not back, to nature,” says Koert van Mensvoort. In this book, he uses creative examples and scientific insights to explore the changing relationship between nature and culture, probing at some of the weird and wonderful ways that humans are evolving along with our biosphere and technosphere. 

Why we picked it: Sometimes we need books like this — spirited, poignant, full of unique ideas and provocative solutions — to shake loose our understanding of design and its role in human survival. We also want to read about rainbow tulips, designer babies and wild machines.

Learn more: nextnature.net/shop/next-nature-book

Design Emergency

By Paola Antonelli and Alice Rawsthorn

About the authors: Paola Antonelli is the award-winning Senior Curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Alice Rawsthorn is a heralded design critic who has authored such iconic volumes as 2018’s Design as an Attitude.

About the book: Okay, so this one isn’t a book just yet, but hear us out. Last May, Paola and Alice launched Design Emergency as a collaborative initiative exploring design’s role and impact on the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath. The project currently lives on Instagram, sharing live talks and resources around the most ingenious solutions that creatives have developed to help protect the public from the pandemic and prepare us for the future. As we speak, the duo are working on a Design Emergency book, which will collect all the highlights from the project in one place.

Why we picked it: Paola and Alice are two of design’s most vocal champions. As curators and conversationalists, they are at once razor-sharp, warm, and thoughtful; and every discussion we’ve seen on Design Emergency has been more insightful than the last. Guest speakers have included Hillary Cottam, the British social scientist; Michael Murphy, co-founder of MASS Design Group; Tala Mortada, Lebanese designer and activist; and Marco Ranieri, the Italian doctor who successfully hacked the ventilator. We’d put our money on the upcoming book being just as diverse and challenging as the rest of the project has been.

Link: instagram.com/design.emergency/

DIY Decadence

by Bompas & Parr and Friends

About the authors: Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are part experience designers, part jelly connoisseurs. The enigmatic duo are best known for their food art installations, which blend together architecture, performance and eating design with the ultimate goal of “feeding minds and stomachs.”

About the book: Last April, as the world retreated into lockdown, Bompas & Parr invited creatives to join them in cooking up fantastical at-home feasts and socially-distanced feats of dining. DIY Decadence is the result of this project: a spectacular documentation of quarantine creativity and what can be realised with whatever’s left in the back of your cupboard. This book captures 136 culinary experiments from 72 collaborators, featuring everything from meat draped in jewellery to explosive baking. 

Why we picked it: We wanted to end this list with some serious fun. This book serves exactly that, and on a glittering silver platter to boot. We love that it features work from creatives all over the world, and that it celebrates pleasure and innovation in times of isolation and anxiety. Dining in has never looked so good!

Learn more: loremnotipsum.com/product/diy-decadence/  

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