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Regulars / Bookshelf

Studio Output’s bumper bookshelf full of design and art inspiration

London-based design agency Studio Output works with brands to deliver a range of creative services including strategy, design, content, experiential and production. It’s worked with the BBC, Pottermore, YouTube, Penguin Random House and Sony Music among many others.

We’ve shared the agency’s work countless times on the site, so it only seemed right that we got Studio Output founders Dan Moore, Rob Coke and Ian Hambleton to share the multitude of books that have inspired them along the way. It’s a bumper edition this week with a mix of early design and art inspiration, and some more practical books around business and leadership that have helped guide the trio.

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Mary Richards: Ed Ruscha

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Mary Richards: Ed Ruscha

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Mary Richards: Ed Ruscha

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Mary Richards: Ed Ruscha

Mary Richards: Ed Ruscha

My favourite painter from my favourite era of art: 60s American painting. It took me a long time to connect the dots between his work and my passions – typography, words, the outdoors, still life – and this succinct book sums it up very well. There’s a general sense of lingering in his work which I like, a kind of forced reflection. His show at the Hayward Gallery many years ago blew me away, and seeing the craft that went into his vast paintings up close gave me a new appreciation of his work.

– Dan Moore, managing director

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Ben Drury: Futura

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Ben Drury: Futura

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Ben Drury: Futura

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Ben Drury: Futura

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Ben Drury: Futura

Ben Drury: Futura

I think this was the first non-“fine art” book I bought after my fine art degree (and I remember it costing me a fortune at the time). Big things that were new to me were the die-cut sections, different stocks, the grey board, the yellow cloth – I could go on (all things I tried to bring into our work later down the line at some point). It was the bridge between music, record sleeves and the painters I’d studied – it’s always something I dip into at home (and Rob’s a big fan too).

– Dan Moore, managing director

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Hipgnosis and George Hardie: The work of Hipgnosis: Walk Away René

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Hipgnosis and George Hardie: The work of Hipgnosis: Walk Away René

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Hipgnosis and George Hardie: The work of Hipgnosis: Walk Away René

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Hipgnosis and George Hardie: The work of Hipgnosis: Walk Away René

Hipgnosis and George Hardie: The work of Hipgnosis: Walk Away René

We’re big fans of Hipgnosis in the studio and have gone back into this many times over the years. Like lots of my books, this was picked up at a charity shop or car boot somewhere, and I like the serendipity that comes with those kind of finds. My favourite Hipgnosis work over the years was and still is Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here LP – bold, iconic imagery with a surrealist twist.

– Dan Moore, managing director

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Gas Books: Blue Source, H5, Tom Kingston, Work In Progress

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Gas Books: Blue Source, H5, Tom Kingston, Work In Progress

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Gas Books: Blue Source, H5, Tom Kingston, Work In Progress

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Gas Books: Blue Source, H5, Tom Kingston, Work In Progress

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Gas Books: Blue Source, H5, Tom Kingston, Work In Progress

Gas Books: Blue Source, H5, _ Tom Hingston_, Work In Progress

I’ve put this lot in as one because this series of books were so inspirational to me in terms of what design could be, where it could go and how it could manifest itself outside of Swiss graphic design. I also liked the minimalist design of the books themselves and their rarity at the time. All three studios’ work was and still is timeless – which is a real challenge in this day and age especially. They’re also mementos of a nearly lost time, the pre-digital music age.

– Dan Moore, managing director

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Herminia Ibarra: Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Herminia Ibarra: Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Such a clearly written and empowering book, that does so much more than the title suggests (which is quite a lot!) This book has really helped re-energise me as a person, as well as look at our agency and my role – now I focus on the business and not the work. I appreciate it’s a bit out of place from the rest of the selection, so see it as an update on where we’re at now as people and as a business. The music is still there, the art is still there, and the inspiration is still there.

– Dan Moore, managing director

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Cynthia Rose: Design after Dark

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Cynthia Rose: Design after Dark

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Cynthia Rose: Design after Dark

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Cynthia Rose: Design after Dark

Cynthia Rose: Design after Dark – the story of dancefloor style

This book from 1991 tells the story behind the record sleeves, magazines and flyers that inspired me to get into design. I pored over the interviews with Swifty – who designed the Talkin’ Loud sleeves and Straight No Chaser magazine – and Ian Wright – whose illustrations and paintings often graced the same sleeves. It’s a great history of London’s underground design scene, from mid-80s Bolshevik symbolism through to the explosion of acid house. Looking back now, I’m struck by how much of an influence the book had, not so much aesthetically, but in terms of a “do it yourself” attitude.

– Rob Coke, executive creative director

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Graham Marsh: The cover art of Blue Note Records

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Graham Marsh: The cover art of Blue Note Records

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Graham Marsh: The cover art of Blue Note Records

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Graham Marsh: The cover art of Blue Note Records

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Graham Marsh: The cover art of Blue Note Records

Graham Marsh: The cover art of Blue Note Records

Another one from the BTEC days. I knew that a lot of the records I was buying were heavily influenced by Blue Note, but it was only when I found this book I realised how brazenly they wore that inspiration on their sleeves. It’s an exploration of Reid Miles’ incredible artistry and invention with typography, imagery and colour. The sheer range of expression, from stripped back refinement, to iconic scale and borderline psychedelia is an eduction for any designer.

– Rob Coke, executive creative director

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Adrian Shaughnessy: How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul

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Adrian Shaughnessy: How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul

Adrian Shaughnessy: How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul

As a student we used to talk about how the natural goal for a designer is to run your own thing. Places like Intro inspired that ambition for ownership, and this book is pretty much the manual on how to do it. Adrian Shaughnessy covers all aspects of the industry, from finding a job and freelancing, to setting up and running a studio, promoting yourself and winning work. Although it came out two years after we started Studio Output, the book reassured us we were on the right track, but challenged us to get things right. Its friendly, conversational advice stands up today. If you haven’t read it, you really should.

– Rob Coke, executive creative director

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Elon Musk: How the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our future

Elon Musk: How the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our future (Audiobook)

It’s been a while since I’ve read (well actually listened to!) a book that’s had such a big effect on me. It’s caused me to reframe some of my thinking around what “success” is and how commercial businesses can do things that governments can’t. While many of the subjects covered are monumentally big, there is transferrable thinking we can take into our day-to-day work, around leadership, motivating a team around a goal and overcoming incredibly difficult situations.

– Ian Hambleton, chief executive

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Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference

Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference

I’m obsessed by economics and the ways in which channelling people’s motivations can change human behaviour. I pretty much think any problem can be solved by approaching it from this outlook. There are some big subjects in there, like how Singapore deals with a problem like the NHS, but more close to home there are also some really interesting marketing and brand themes around how best to understand audiences, people and their motivations.

– Ian Hambleton, chief executive