At the MIT Press, we know nerdy
Our authors, loyal readers, and staff are all unapologetically enthusiastic about their niche interests. If that makes us nerds, we’ll wear the honorific proudly.
We’ve put together book recommendations for every type of nerd, from the peer-reviewers and scholars to the armchair intellectuals and budding aficionados. Explore books for the chic geeks in your life below. Happy holidays and happy reading.
Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art by Nancy J. Troy and Ann Marguerite Tartsinis
Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian dresses are among the twentieth century’s most celebrated and recognizable fashions, but the context of their creation involves much more than meets the eye. In Mondrian’s Dress, Nancy J. Troy and Ann Marguerite Tartsinis offer a fresh approach to the coupling of Piet Mondrian’s interwar paintings with Saint Laurent’s couture designs by exposing the rampant merchandising and commodification that these works experienced in the 1960s. The authors situate the consolidation of Saint Laurent’s fashion brand alongside the work of such Pop artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann, and show how conventional understandings of Mondrian’s avant-garde abstractions were transformed by the mass circulation of his signature style.
“…Glamorous yet scholarly.” —Art in America
Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook by Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall
From the excesses of world expositions to myths of better living through technology, modernist design, in its European-based guises, has excluded and oppressed the very people whose lands and lives it reshaped. Decolonizing Design first asks how modernist design has encompassed and advanced the harmful project of colonization—then shows how design might address these harms by recentering its theory and practice in global Indigenous cultures and histories.
“Tunstall gives step-by-step instructions for reducing bigotry’s impact on the built environment.” —The New York Times Book Review
An Anthology of Blackness: The State of Black Design edited by Terresa Moses and Omari Souza
An Anthology of Blackness examines the intersection of Black identity and practice, probing why the design field has failed to attract Black professionals, how Eurocentric hegemony impacts Black professionals, and how Black designers can create an anti-racist design industry. Contributing authors and creators demonstrate how to develop a pro-Black design practice of inclusivity, including Black representation in designed media, anti-racist pedagogy, and radical self-care. Through autoethnography, lived experience, scholarship, and applied research, these contributors share proven methods for creating an anti-racist and inclusive design practice.
“[An Anthology of Blackness] leads us to question design’s ability to challenge racial biases, forms of oppression, and establish itself as a truly inclusive social practice.” —Domus
Feminist Designer: On the Personal and the Political in Design edited by Alison Place
Feminist Designer brings together a constellation of voices and perspectives to examine the intersection of design and feminist theory. For decades, the feminist refrain within design has hinged on the representation and inclusion of women in the field. This collection, edited by Alison Place, however, is a call to move beyond this narrow application. Feminist design is not just about who does design—it is about how we do design and why. Feminist frameworks for design activism are now more relevant than ever, as they emphasize collaborative processes that aim to disrupt and dismantle power hierarchies while centering feminist ways of knowing and doing.
“Moving beyond narrow questions of representation and inclusion, Feminist Designer instead asks how we design and why.” —Fast Company
Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion by Elizabeth L. Block
French fashion of the late nineteenth century is known for its allure, its ineffable chic—think of John Singer Sargent’s Madame X and her scandalously slipping strap. For Parisian couturiers and their U.S. customers, it was also serious business. In Dressing Up, Elizabeth Block examines the couturiers’ influential clientele—wealthy women in the United States who bolstered the French fashion industry with a steady stream of orders. Countering the usual narrative of the designer as solo creative genius, Block shows that these women—as high-volume customers and as pre-Internet influencers—were active participants in the era’s transnational fashion system.
“This handsomely illustrated, anecdotal volume illuminates the symbiotic relationship between late-19th-century Parisian fashion houses and their well-to-do American clients.” —Washington Post
London Couture and the Making of a Fashion Centre by Michelle Jones
In the 1930s and 1940s, English fashion houses, spurred by economic and wartime crises, put London on the map as a major fashion city. In this book, Michelle Jones examines the creation of a London-based couture industry during these years, exploring how designer collaboration and the construction of specific networks and narratives supported and shaped the English fashion economy. Haute couture—the practice of creative made-to-measure womenswear—was widely regarded as inherently French. Jones shows how an English version emerged during a period of economic turbulence, when a group of designers banded together in a collective effort to shift power within the international fashion system.
“This fascinating account of London’s couture industry shows us that Paris was not the only city to define itself by its commitment to fashion.” —Penny Sparke, Kingston University, London; author of An Introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to the Present