What we make, makes us. These words begin Artful Design, a manifesto of how we shape technology, and a meditation on how technology shapes us in turn. Investigating design through the vehicle of music and technology, the book begins with a simple question: What is design? In pursuit of that answer, Artful Design takes the reader on a journey of discovery — of the nature, meaning, and purpose of design in this age of technology, and the many related questions that arise. Why should we design beauty into useful things? What does it mean to design well? To what extent can (and should) the things we engineer embody our values as human beings? Why does design... matter? This book is for anyone who has ever been curious (excited or concerned) about technology — both what it does for us, and what it does to us.


Artful Design is meticulously designed in the medium of a full-color photo comic book. It is uncompromising (it requires some thinking) yet accessible (due to its unconventional visual format). A book about "the soul" of design, it is itself an artifact of design.

The world of Artful Design is revealed both conceptually and concretely through the design of tools, toys, games, mobile apps like Ocarina, musical instruments, and social experiences. It contains over 100 principles of artful design, and "design etudes" (i.e., expressive exercises) for the reader to explore and enact in everyday life. Across its eight chapters, the book articulates an overarching practical philosophy of design that seeks to understand us as human beings.


A Stanford Music professor with a Ph.D. in Computer Science, a designer/engineer/artist hybrid working at the intersections of disciplines, and an accidental entrepreneur (he co-founded Smule), Ge doesn't neatly fit any profile. He designs programming languages for music, instruments and apps (like the award-winning Ocarina) for mobile devices and virtual reality. He directs the Stanford Laptop Orchestra. He loves food. He plays Starcraft (but is still a noob after 20 years). He shoots a lot of photographs. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and has spent three years writing this book. (During this time, he has become good friends with the excellent people of Stanford University Press.) | Learn more about the author.

Based on Artful Design, Ge teaches a Stanford Continuing Studies course DSN100 | Artful Design: How We Shape Technology and How Technology Shapes Us (online and open to all), THINK66 | Design that Understands Us (a critical thinking course at Stanford), and MUSIC256a / CS476a | Music, Computing, Design (a creative design course at Stanford). He also hosts Artful Design TV, a weekly online series exploring coding, music, critical making with helpings of history and philosophy.


The things we design with technology, designs us. We cannot unmake technology. But we can shape it more artfully. No matter your walk of life or what you think about technology or design, this book invites you to venture into a realm where the technological meets the intangible. Welcome to the realm of...

Buy This Book! Read the Prelude Now!


Check out the book chapters, learn more about the author, see (or set up) upcoming book-related talks and performances, tune in to Artful Design TV, and more. Do you know someone how might be interested in this book? Let them know (or get them this book!)

"Happy explorations — I'll see you in the book."