This year, those of us who always gravitated to the picture books on library day have had two reasons to celebrate. Edward Tufte published his third magnificent work, Visual Explanations, and Richard Saul Wurman has favored us with this beautifully produced edition.
First and foremost, this book is about sheer visual delight. The delight we get when we discover new facts and relationships revealed in graphic ways by the information architects presented.
White text on black backgrounds notwithstanding, (See another review elsewhere in this section. I don''t find it difficult for my 45 year old eyes to follow) Wurman has the good sense to resort to extremely high quality design and printing methods to compliment the books contents.
Okay, after all that frothy introduction, what's this book really about? It's about information design and "the heart of a good explanation". It presents the work of 24 individuals or groups of designers, faced with a "Tsunami" of data, whose passion "is to make the complex clear."
The designs range from Alexander Tsiaras' computerized photographic medical visualizations and Clement Mok's web sites to David McCaulay's insightful freehand sketches and finished drawings. The presentation of the evolution of McCaulay's book, Underground, gave me the chills. I felt plugged into his brain as the concept develped into the finished book.
This book, like it's contents, is about discovery. The "rediscovery" of Richard Curtis' work for USA Today and Don Moyer's work for the Steelcase furniture catalogs are recognized for the style and clarity they brought to those media.
This is a book that I return to often both for it's sheer beauty and because each time I return, something new is revealed in it's illustrations.
Based on my experience with this book, I picked up Wurman's Access travel guide to Boston before a recent trip. Another revelation and very a well presented visual guide. I'll check for Wurman's Access guides before taking any more trips.
This book earns my highest recommendation (could you tell?)