In the 21st century, commerce and culture are ever more closely entwined. This collection of essays by design critic Rick Poynor takes a searching look at visual culture to discover the reality beneath the ultra-seductive surfaces. Poynor explores the thinking behind the emerging resistance to commercial rhetoric among designers, and offers critical insights into the changing dialogue between advertising and design. Other essays address the topics of visual journalism; brands as religion; the new solipsism; graphic memes; the pleasures of imperfect design; and the poverty of "cool". The worldwide dominance of huge corporations is invariably expressed by visual means. This book challenges this mono-culture critically. It offers inspirational evidence of alternative ways of engaging with design, and it will appeal to any reader with a questioning interest in design, advertising, cultural studies, media studies, and the visual arts.