Around the Studio: Must-Reads For Citizen Designers

by Juhan Sonin

As designers, we inhabit the everyday world.

Though our visions might occupy a different realm, we live in the same orbit as those for whom we design. Innovation requires us to understand what came before us, what lies around us, and the part we play in making the world a better place.

Enchanted Objects


Great products are magical—they make you smile and wonder how they work, and they are beautiful to use. MIT Media Lab-er David Rose goes through his checklist on the makings of enchanted services.

Think Like a Commoner


David Bollier’s fantastic primer on the global commons movement. Know thy history of open source, the commons, and the alternative to the corrupt Market/State.

The Men Who United the States


Simon Winchester is a local Massachusettsian (like another favorite history writer, James Carroll, author of House of War) who reveals many of the lost inventors, explorers, engineers, and designers that shaped our country over the past two hundred years.

Concierge Medicine


Many of my doctor friends are sick of healthcare, bored by their jobs, and tired of the grind. Patients want a more personal experience with their clinicians versus the 6 minute drive-bys with our PCP. Steven Knope maps out the anti-outsourcing of our health care through the kinder, gentler, and better outcomes-based concierge service, which proves healthier for patients and doctors. Where has this been all my life?

The Remedy


Thomas Goetz unfolds the charming story of Robert Koch and his discovery of how bacteria work and tuberculosis. This fabulous sleuthing into the lives of experimentalists and scientists dovetails with Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map.

Next up:

Finishing This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Naomi’s last book, Shock Doctrine, was enthralling. I started her latest rant, became sufficiently pissed at the climate deniers (who ultimately are anti-education) and had to put the book down. It’s now next up on my finish-list, along with The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr The Citizen Patient by Nortin Hadler.

Topics: Design, culture of learning