Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Listening to Design

A Guide to the Creative Process

Listening to Design takes readers on a unique journey into the singular psychology of design. Drawing on his experience as a teacher, architect, and psychotherapist, Andrew Levitt breaks down the entire creative process, from the first moments an idea appears to the final presentation of a project. Combining telling anecdotes, practical advice, and personal insights, this book offers a rarely seen glimpse into the often turbulent creative process of a working designer. It highlights the importance of active listening, the essential role of empathy in solving problems and overcoming obstacles, and reveals how the act of designing is a vehicle for personal development and a profound opportunity for self-transformation.

With clear, jargon-free, and inspirational prose, sections on “Storytelling and the Big Idea,” “Listening and Receiving,” “Getting Stuck,” “Empathy and Collaboration,” and “Presenting and Persuading” signal a larger shift in design toward staying true to creative instincts and learning to trust the surprising power and resilience of the creative process itself. This enlightening and timely book is essential reading for designers, architects, and readers working in all creative fields.

208 pages | 6 1/4 x 8 1/4 | © 2018


Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


"[One of] three new graphic design books to perfect your technique. . . . Levitt combines his background as an architecture professor and certified Jungian psychotherapist into a guidebook for those who want to create. From start to finish, the creative process is examined through a psychological lens, which will be sure to inspire new ideas and reduce stress. Levitt pays particular attention to the importance of active listening and approaching creative problems with empathy."

Applied Arts

"Most insightful and instructive are Levitt’s stories about students’ struggles and how Levitt, as their teacher, assists them in managing the challenges inherent in the creative process. . . . Levitt offers sound advice."

Virginia Feher, head librarian and assistant professor, University of North Georgia, Oconee Campus | ARLIS/NA Reviews

"Birth is not a one-off occurrence. Life often requires us to be repeatedly reborn, particularly if we have strong creative impulses. Artistic creation is itself existential; an idea can pass through phases of gestation, nourishment and finally, birth. But an idea can also be abandoned, killed off. In his new book, Listening to Design, Levitt examines the profound psychological journey that often accompanies the design process. As an architect, teacher and psychotherapist, Levitt’s interests lie at the intersection between successful design and emotional development, a link perhaps not immediately obvious, but one that he convincingly argues is of critical importance. . . . Levitt’s book is recommended to anyone with an interest in the connections between creativity in design and psychology."

Lucia Giombini, King's College | Psychologist

“Levitt’s unusual background as a teacher of architecture and a psychotherapist has inspired him to write a book describing many practices which I did not realize were part of my own creative process. The act of drawing as a way of communication, meditation as a way of opening oneself to a higher power, ‘listening to feedback from your head, heart, and gut,’ openness to collaboration and overcoming ego, as well as the demands of others in order to be true to yourself—these are all important lessons to learn. Not just for designers and architects, but for everyone in all walks of life.”

Mira Nakashima, creative director of George Nakashima Woodworkers

“Of all the subtle creative tools available to the architectural designer, listening may be the most difficult to portray. In this book, Levitt provides a unique window into this practice. Using autobiographical narrative, experiential examples, his integrated role as an architect and therapist, and his simple humanity, Levitt helps us understand the nature of listening in the creative design process. This he does with a magisterial progress through the body, mind, and hearts of his students.”

William Woodworth, principal, William Woodworth Architectural Design, Toronto

“Levitt has a rare ability to integrate insights from the fields of architecture and psychology, revealing the internal processes that enable creative design. Using beautifully narrated vignettes drawn from his teaching and design practice, Listening to Design describes techniques for overcoming creative impasses and finding your own inner passion. It also provides valuable insights for art, design, and architecture educators as well as therapists working with creative clients.”

Esther Sperber, founder of Studio ST Architects, New York

Listening to Design offers a rare insight into the psychology of the design process, particularly the special relationship that exists between tutor and student. Levitt is a wonderful storyteller whose tales will be relevant to those in all fields of design, as well as the general reader interested in creativity. Through his immersion in the way of design thinking, Levitt gives us an eloquent and sympathetic portrait of the design community—its poignancy, frustrations, and pleasures.”

Gregory Votolato, course director and lecturer, Victoria & Albert Museum; tutor, Royal College of Art

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press