Caps Lock

Ruben Pater’s 2016 book The Politics of Design arrived at the perfect moment: just preceding the 2016 election and the reckoning that came alongside it about the designer’s role in society. In The Politics of Design, Pater, a designer and researcher, dissects notions of design from typography to color to layout revealing the biases and political nature of the work designers too often like to think of as neutral.  Caps Lock, Pater’s follow-up book, continues this critique with a specific focus on the development of graphic design alongside the expansion of capitalism. A revisionist history of sorts, Pater looks at the role of labor, reproduction, branding, marketing, and social media in how they transformed the design industry. Pater isn’t interested in artifacts or celebrity designers as much as systems; especially the often invisible systems that have an outsized influence on the work we make. I always hesitate to declare something required, but upon finishing Caps Lock, my first thought was: “this should be taught in every design program.”