Mike Monteiro’s Ruined by Design is the perfect weekend book for any practicing designer and design leader. At a couple hundred pages of breezy, punchy, caustic, and funny prose, it goes by quickly (maybe 3 hours of reading time?), and that includes the time you will pause to reflect. Because you will occasionally put the book down and think about how it applies to your work, and what you’re doing (or not doing) to practice design in an ethical manner.
I’ve known Mike for over 20 years, and we don’t always (don’t usually?) agree, so reading his book was validating in that, through the distinct journeys of our respective careers, I found that he and I are in extreme agreement about the role of design (and it’s responsibility to humans and the planet), the power of designers (to drive organizations to engage in more ethical practices), and the need to seriously consider some form of professionalization for the work (licensing, certifications, and unions), the last because it has become clear that designers’ efforts can have massive societal impact.
Mike even wades into the ‘Everyone is a designer’ morass, and I will quote him at some length:
“Everyone who influences the final thing, be it a product or a service, is designing. Yet if you were to click through and look at the replies to [Jared Spool’s] tweet, what you’d see is the evisceration of Jared Spool in defensive bite-sized little vitriolic thoughts still covered with the spittle of ego. Even more sadly, it quickly turns into a discussion of titles. We are happy to give away all the responsibilities that come with the job, but please don’t take our titles!”
In a world of design books that mostly rehash what we already know, Ruined by Design is important for how it advances our community’s broader conversation in necessary ways.