Guest Curator Alice Rawsthorn invites twelve of her friends from the fields of contemporary art, design and other areas of contemporary culture to nominate books for Dublin Art Book Fair 2020.

The list includes twenty titles nominated by Alice and a further seventy-seven books suggested to us by her invitees. Collectively these books add another incredible, fascinating and diverse dimension to the books that DABF 2020, Design as an Attitude gathers together. The nominated books are available to purchase on our Shop and come with short notes of recommendation, written by their nominees.

Alice Rawsthorn (writer and design critic), Paola Antonelli (Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA), Alvaro Barrington (artist), Hilary Cottam (social designer), Michael Craig-Martin (artist), Es Devlin (artist and stage designer), Conor Donlon (owner Donlon Books, London), Marie Donnelly (philanthropist), Andrew Durbin (writer and editor of frieze), Helen Marten (artist), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London), Zoé Whitley (Director, Chisenhale Gallery, London).

Selection by Hilary Cottam, social designer

Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg, Hella Jongerius: Misfit (Phaidon Press)
This is a book about imperfections, open questions and what we can create if we lose our obsession with perfect objects and closed, finished systems. I love the content and Irma Boom’s design – both work together to provide a quirky insight into how we can think beyond mass industrial systems of any kind.

Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist (Random House Business)
‘The most powerful tool in economics is not money, nor even algebra. It is a pencil. Because with a pencil you can redraw the world’. In this book Kate Raworth re-draws the seven core rules of the economics discipline showing how we could live within the ecological boundaries of the planet. The design of the diagrams makes this profound economic re-think accessible to all.

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton University Press)
This ethnographic study of the Matsutake mushroom encompasses global market systems, our entanglement with forests, how we see and ultimately how we can draw on the patterns in nature to re-design our social and economic systems despite the havoc we have wreaked. The writing is poetic, and the mushroom drawings and photographs are integral to the work of this very special book.

Ezio Manzini, Politics of the Everyday (Designing in Dark Times) (Bloomsbury Visual Arts)
This book is about the design of democracy. Starting with a community meeting under a tree Manzini looks at how we design everyday choices and how we could re-think democratic systems bottom up. Manzini has practised and taught social design for some decades and this is a very human book full of insight.

Lucy Neal, Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered (Oberon Books)
This book by activist and artist Lucy Neal is about the art of the possible, about building a narrative of the world that could be, through writing, games and interventions in the urban fabric. The book is deeply participative in its creation and content and makes the re-design of our environments something democratic and full of joy.

Rita Indiana, Tentacle (And Other Stories)
Our social systems are designed around an imagined pattern of the human – to move forward we need to re-imagine that human shape and this novel by Rita Indiana mixes up the borders of gender, nature, technology and santeria in a truly original way. Strange and mind opening, it also has much to say about the ingrained designs of poverty and colonialism.

Hilary Cottam (born 1965, London, UK) is a social designer whose book Radical Help published in 2018, maps out a redesigning of the Welfare State. Her work in the UK has sought to reform the school and prison systems leading to her being named UK Designer of the Year in 2005 for her pioneering social design. Last year Cottam was honoured with an OBE for services to the Welfare State.