I received some excellent books for my birthday this year, including The Grammar of Ornament, a stunning mixture of design knowledge, history and inspiration. The book, first printed in the middle of the 19th century, discusses a wide swath of ornamental styles and design from a wide array of sources and eras, including ancient Byzantinium, Greece, and Egypt, Imperial China and the European Renaissance.
While I have already spent a lot of time flipping pages, marvelling at the color reproductions, I have also started reading the book from cover to cover, just as I do with any other history source. The Grammar of Ornament provides an amazing opportunity to learn more about the history of those design elements we see throughout our day. All the better that it proves to be a great fount of ideas, even for those of us who design for an electronic medium.