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Art by Lorena G

6 coffee table books filled with endless design inspiration

This post was originally published on Creative Market, the world’s marketplace for ready-to-use design assets.

As a designer, one of the best ways to get inspired is by looking at the work of other designers. Taking in visual inspiration from the world around you is a great strategy for coming up with new ideas that are uniquely your own. If you’re looking for a source of visual inspiration that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to get your hands on, one of the best sources is a coffee table book.

Coffee table books are large, carefully crafted, and often considered design feats of their own. They’ll also give you a condensed and cohesive inspiration source that you can flip through again and again. Here are a few coffee table books for designers that we highly recommend.

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Row 1: MUTI, Matt Newton, Lauren Castro for Rhyme & Reason Design.


1. Pantone: The 20th Century in Color

Pantone has long been considered the world’s leading authority on color. In 2011, the company created “Pantone: The 20th Century in Color,”
 a coffee table book that explores the colors of more than 200 seminal pieces of art and design over the preceding century. The book is a fascinating look at color trends and psychology, and it’s a must for designers who want a better understanding of how colors have changed as society has changed.

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2. The Collins Big Book of Art

It’s indisputable that classic works of art continue to have a huge influence on what’s created in the realm of digital design. So, to get a heaping portion of famous art, as well as an understanding of the trajectory of how art came to be, check out “The Collins Big Book of Art,”
 edited by David G. Wilkins. The book includes works created as early as 38,000 B.C.

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3. Mid-Century Ads

The 1950s and ’60s were the heyday of the American advertisement. To get a better understanding of the ads in this golden age of consumerism, browse “Mid-Century Ads,”
 by Jim Heimann and Steven Heller. The book is packed with photos, graphics and posters once used as advertisements, and is a fascinating look at what historically sold products in America. It’s a great source of inspiration for anyone looking for a mid-century aesthetic.

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4. Milton Glaser: Graphic Design

One of the most influential graphic designers of all time, Milton Glaser created iconic images like the “I Love New York” logo. In “Milton Glaser: Graphic Design,”
 you can page through a collection of Glaser’s best designs, including book covers, album covers, and billboards. This book includes text from the designer about his process, influences, and philosophies.

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5. Thinking with Type

Design is not just about pictures, but also about words and letters. For typographic inspiration, one of the best coffee table books available is “Thinking with Type,”
 by Ellen Lupton. The book explores the psychology behind fonts, as well as the history and theory behind the use of typography in design.

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6. Around the World in 125 Years

There’s no better source of visual inspiration than the natural world around you. So, for a broad look at the world over decades, across continents, and throughout countless civilizations and communities, browse “Around the World in 125 Years.”
 This set of three stunning books contains a compilation of the best photographs in National Geographic since 1888.

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Collecting coffee table books is a must for any designer who thrives on visual inspiration. Countless coffee table books are filled with stunning, artistic, and evocative images that can help get your creative mind flowing. And as a bonus, these books always make a great addition to your home’s decor!


Laura Busche About the author: Laura Busche is the author of the Lean Branding book. Her approach to branding is blended, combining insights from an undergraduate degree in business, master’s degree in design management, and Ph.D. in consumer psychology. Laura is a Brand Content Strategist at Creative Market.


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