Five free design books, courtesy of Rationale

Five free design books, courtesy of Rationale

Rationale, a San Francisco-area design studio, has released downloadable PDF versions of five books, including several brand standards manuals, the first issue of Dot Zero, and a monograph by Rationale’s founder, Sean Wolcott. All these books are free for personal and educational uses; you can download them on the Rationale website.

Graphic Design for Non-Profit Organizations

This 52-page booklet was designed by Massimo Vignelli and Peter Laundy in 1980 for AIGA. It covers much of the same information as the Vignelli Cannon; although, it includes extra guidelines and examples for non-profits. The book explains everything from grids and logotypes to stationary and invitations—it even includes a list of suggested typefaces, with Vignelli-favorites Helvetica, Bodoni, and Times Roman making appearances.

Dot Zero—Issue 1

Another Vignelli design, this book is actually a magazine—the first issue of Unimark’s in-house magazine. Produced in 1966, just one year after the founding of Unimark, the magazine was the first of only five. Spanning 29 pages, the PDF includes pieces by Marshall McLuhan, Arthur Drexler, Eugene Feldman, and Bruno Munari. Munari’s contribution, “Variations on the Face,” reads like a sample spread from his book “Design as Art,” which came out five years later.

Erscheinungsbild Deutsche Bank Typografie

Anton Stankowski’s 1978 design manual for Deutsche Bank includes 69 pages of colorful guidelines on layout, stationary, logo placement, and more. Unfortunately, the entire book is printed in German; that said, its expert imagery defies language barriers.

New York Botanical Garden Manual of Graphic Standards

One final contribution by Massimo Vignelli, this 1973 graphic standards guide spans 32 pages and succinctly explains the golden ratio, how to use Times Roman, the proper placement of the Botanical Garden’s logo on a manila envelope, and more. This book proves how richly dense a graphics manual can be.

Sean Wolcott: Graphic Design 2008–2014

A 172-page monograph comprises only a few years of Rationale-founder Sean Wolcott’s career, including “identity, promotion, publication, user interface, packaging design, previously unpublished works, and more.” Wolcott skews toward simple shapes and clean, flush left type, emblematic of the influence the previous four documents have had on his design sensibilities. Rationale also sells an offset-printed version for $40 in their store.

You can download all five of these books for free on the Rationale website.

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