Books on Interaction Design and Design Theory

Here’s a list of the books that I have read recently whilst researching for an essay (or perhaps thesis chapter?) on the theory of both design and interaction design. The books are listed below in the same order as they are stacked in the photo above. Although I won’t claim that this list is in any way comprehensive, I feel that there is a good range of books here for anyone interested in researching design, and interaction design.

  1. “Thoughtful Interaction Design: A Design Perspective on Information Technology” By Jonas Löwgren, Erik Stolterman. I recommend this to anyone interested in interaction design. This book is both readable and thought-provoking.
  2. “Thoughts on Interaction Design” By Jon Kolko. This book gives a great overview of what it means to be an interaction designer without delving into the theory.
  3. “The Laws of Simplicity” By John Maeda. This book should be a compulsory read for all interaction designers.
  4. “Principles in Design” By W. H. Mayall
  5. “What is a Designer: Education and Practice: A Guide for Students and Teachers” By Norman Potter
  6. “The Nature of Design” By David Pye
  7. “Notes on the synthesis of form” By Christopher Alexander. A design classic.
  8. “Technology as Experience” By John McCarthy, Peter Wright
  9. “How Designers Think: The Design Process Demystified” By Bryan Lawson
  10. “Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change” By Victor Papanek
  11. “The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action” By Donald A. Schön
  12. “Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency” By Jay David Bolter, Diane Gromala
  13. “Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices” By Dan Saffer
  14. “Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design” By Bill Buxton. This book helps to clarify amongst other things the difference between a prototype and a sketch. Very useful, and a good read.
  15. “Developments in Design Methodology” By Nigel Cross
  16. “Design: History, Theory and Practice of Product Design” By Bernhard E. Bürdek
  17. “Designing Interactions” By Bill Moggridge. This seems to be the place to start as an introduction to interaction design, particularly for the history of the field.
  18. “What Designers Know” By Bryan Lawson
  19. “Interaction Design: Beyond Human-computer Interaction” By Jennifer Preece, Jenny Preece, Yvonne Rogers, Helen Sharp
  20. “Taking Software Design Seriously: Practical Techniques for Human-computer Interaction Design” By John Karat


This is the Emotoscope, made by Kenichi Okada. In his own words:

Emotoscope is a device that gives you an experience of missing time.

Recent digital recording devices such as digital cameras or video cameras make it possible for us to take thousands of pictures or videos with high quality image, but as much as it becomes convenient, we are losing the opportunity of looking at things more carefully.

For this reason, I sometimes use an analog film camera to shoot my everyday life and play the films with a projector. Every time I watch film, it gives me nostalgic and emotional feelings. Then I start to miss the moment that I was there. The experiences become very precious to me. Why couldn’t I see that the moment was precious to me? If I can see present time as if seeing past experience, how would I feel by that?

It is this engagement on the emotional level that I would like to explore further in my own designs of new musical instruments. Perhaps one way would be to superimpose record crackle and hum on top of day to day sounds?


The first full-size BeatBearing body has been machined in the Engineering Workshop (Many thanks to Jim Knox and David Magill). Now just need to wire it up to an Arduino.

The photo above shows a mock-up of the BeatBearing in action (currently the washers aren’t wired up, so the balls can’t trigger anything).

BeatBearing mkII video

This video shows the prototype Beatbearing in action. Sounds are triggered by placing the ball bearings in the recesses. Unfortunately due to handling the steel ball bearings have become slightly rusty so they make a less reliable contact as a switch. Hopefully this can be remedied with the use of stainless steel bearings.