The Shape of Design

A short, accessible book about the creative process and the intersection of storytelling, craft & improvisation

Written by Frank Chimero

Frank Chimero

Frank Chimero is a digital designer. In 2010, he received the Art Directors Club Young Guns award. Also in 2010, he was selected by Print Magazine for its annual New Visual Artists issue, highlighting twenty designers under the age of thirty.

Frank also works as a teacher at Portland State and Missouri State University teaching typography, design systems, information design, and thesis courses. He has also taught graduate students at SVA’s Masters of Interaction Design department.


About the book

If you are interested in solving problems through design thinking, this book is for you. Instead of focusing on technical approaches to design, Frank focuses on philosophical approaches. This makes the book a bit harder to understand than other design books, but his casual writing style makes for an understandable and enjoyable read.


Frank Chimero crowdfunded this book via Kickstarter in March 2011. He pledged over $100,000 of his $27,000 goal and the book has remained very popular ever since.

A spread from The Shape of Design


Frank has designed, illustrated and published the book all by himself. It is set in FF Quadraat and the illustrations accompanying the chapters are absolutely beautiful.

Illustrations for The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero

A short review

The Shape of Design is a book about solving problems with design. It doesn’t talk about typography, grids or logos but focuses on storytelling and craft. It doesn’t offer tutorials or tips but answers to the Where, Who, What and Why. It answers big questions: how does it feel to make things for other people, and, how can we do so in a meaningful way?


“From the very first line, Frank grabs you by the neurons and heartstrings, and doesn’t let go until the very last.”
Maria Popova Brainpickings


Frank provides valuable insight spanning everything from the How and Why (‘questions about How to do things improves craft and elevates form, but asking Why unearths a purpose and develops a point of view’), to the role of storytelling within design and the magic of creativity. The book is packed with wonderful quotes and is not like any design book I have ever read.

The book is, without a doubt, a great read for creators in every discipline. It is available to read online for free and Frank just did another print run. You won’t regret buying it — I finally got my hands on a physical copy and I’m re-reading it. Again.