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The Shape of Design's video poster

The Shape of Design is a short, accessible book about the creative process & the intersection of storytelling, craft & improvisation. Read more

Portland, OR Design
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pledged of $27,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on March 2, 2011.

The Shape of Design is a short, accessible book about the creative process & the intersection of storytelling, craft & improvisation.

Portland, OR Design
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About this project

EDIT: Updated details on shipping, especially for our international friends.

Book Summary

Hi. My name's Frank Chimero. I've spent the better part of the last two years writing and speaking on design and thinking about the topics that orbit the practice: storytelling, concept, craft, and improvisation. I want to take all of the ideas I've had and connected these past few months and capture them in a book format.

I've been teaching for the past 5 years, and I've always been a bit frustrated that there isn't a nice, concise book that overviews the mental state of a successful designer while they go through their creative process. For instance, many say that graphic design is visual communication. A cornerstone of communication is storytelling, and yet you'd be hard-pressed to find any discussion of how to tell stories with design in any design book. This should be remedied.

There are new challenges in the world that need to be discussed, and I think design is a prime lens to consider these topics. As our world moves faster and as things become less stable, it becomes more important for individuals to embrace ambiguity, understand paradox, and realize that two things can conflict and still somehow both be true. We must realize that logic doesn't always work, and that sometimes nonsense is the best answer. These are the topics I intend to address in the book.

The Shape of Design isn't going to be a text book. The project will be focused on Why instead of How. We have enough How; it's time for a thoughtful analysis of our practice and its characteristics so we can better practice our craft. After reading the book, I want you to look at what you do in a whole new light. Design is more than working for clients.

But really, this book aims to look at the mindset and worldview that designing develops in order to answer one big, important question: How can we make things that help all of us live better?

A Video

As I said, these aren't new topics for me. Most of the ideas are already developed. In fact, I've given several lectures on the subject. Fortunately, the good people at the Build Conference in Belfast recorded one of these talks, so I'd like to show it to you. It's also called The Shape of Design. The video is about 40 minutes long, so you might want to come back to it later, but I think it should give you a great idea of how the book will be. I consider this talk the book's little brother, the seed-form of the ideas that will be in The Shape of Design.


See right for the specifics on how to get each, but here's a bit of a preview:

The Book!

Donor Special Edition Book (with the "Shape Jacket")

Midnight Oil Poster (18x24")

Paper Cuts Original Art Pieces by Frank Chimero (previous works, you'd be getting new work)

"Shape Art," Original Art Pieces by Frank Chimero (previous works, you'd be getting new work)

The Artifact

I love books. If I'm going to write one, I want it to be beautiful, inside and out. My current intentions are to have it be a cloth-bound hardcover book. I'm a designer by trade, so I'll be working hard to have this title be a gem on your bookshelf. I want to be proud of it. I want you to be proud of it too.

I'm currently planning on the book being between 150 and 200 pages. I'd like not to ramble on. The longer the book becomes, the less impact it has. (And the less likely you are to read it, which is the point of all of this, right?)


There are going to be three digital versions of the book:

  1. Free, full-content HTML-based web edition of the book optimized for the iPad.
  2. A "no-glow" edition specifically made for the Kindle
  3. Standards-compliant, open EPUB version for general reading on the iPad and other devices.

I'll be doing considerable work on how to craft more pleasant reading experiences on all these devices. The same care and attention to detail in the physical book will also be brought to these digital editions. There's no reason the digital version of a good book should be a ghetto.


Where's this money going? Most of it will be sunk into production costs, and after that a small bit will be used to allow me to focus exclusively on writing for a few months. Additional money is going towards the production the book: things like hiring a professional editor, further refinements on the digital editions, and maybe a few surprises in the print edition as well.

Thanks for your time and consideration!


  • Don't fret! I haven't asked for shipping information yet. I'll send out the survey as close as possible to the shipping date, so no one has to worry about having the wrong address on file.

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  • Right now, it looks like April of 2012

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  • Of course! But, the perks (such as the special edition of the book, prints, or original art) are only available to the project's backers.

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  • Yes, but not quite yet. Preorders for the book will open once it is closer to its completion. If you're interested in signing up for a mailing list to be notified, go here:

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  • Sure! I think this particular project was successful because it offered a book of familiar writing to a preexisting audience. I've been blogging about the topics in the book for the past two years, and along the way, the writing has gathered a bunch of people who enjoy it. I'm extremely grateful for them, and honored that they'd take the initiative to back this project. Kickstarter is a wonderful way to formalize that relationship further, and to allow them to feel like they're a part of the process of producing something. So, to those that have backed, THANK YOU! And to those embarking on their own projects, I can't offer much help outside of my own experience, but good luck!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    278 backers

    Access to project updates and the free web-based digital edition of the book.

  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    147 backers

    All of the above + All 3 digital editions: Web-based, iPad, and Kindle

  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    900 backers

    All of the above + hardcover edition of The Shape of Design

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    Pledge $50 or more

    566 backers

    All of the above + a signed copy of the book

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    156 backers

    All of the above + name in back-of-book credits as a patron + special patron edition of the book, with "Shape Jacket"

  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    50 backers All gone!

    All of the above + Limited Edition "Midnight Oil" screenprinted poster.

  • You selected
    Pledge $450 or more

    2 backers Limited (18 left of 20)

    All of the above + Original papercut by Frank (See examples)

  • You selected
    Pledge $750 or more

    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    All of the above + Original piece of Shape Art by Frank. (See examples)

  • You selected
    Pledge $3,000 or more

    3 backers All gone!

    All of the above + I'll come out to wherever you are and do the Shape of Design lecture for your studio, business, or school. (English only, please.)

Funding period

- (30 days)