PROFILE

Michael Bierut


About

Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, and has been a partner in the New York office of Pentagram since 1990. Michael is a Senior Critic in Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art.

Books

79 Short Essays on Design
Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design
Michael Bierut
Princeton Architectural Press, 2007

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“It’s not hard to see why innovation is becoming the design world's favorite euphemism. Design sounds cosmetic and ephemeral; innovation sounds energetic and essential. Design conjures images of androgynous figures in black turtlenecks wielding clove cigarettes; innovators are forthright fellows with their shirtsleeves rolled up, covering whiteboards with vigorous magicmarkered diagrams, arrows pointing to words like ‘Results!’ But best of all, the cult of innovation neatly sidesteps the problem that has befuddled the business case for design from the beginning. Thomas Watson, Jr.’s famous dictum ‘good design is good business’ implies that there's good design and there’s bad design; what he doesn’t reveal is how to reliably tell one from the other. Neither has anyone else. It’s taken for granted that innovation, however, is always good.” — From Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design

Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design brings together the best of designer Michael Bierut’s critical writing — serious or humorous, flattering or biting, but always on the mark. Bierut is widely considered the finest observer on design writing today. Covering topics as diverse as Twyla Tharp and ITC Garamond, Bierut’s intelligent and accessible texts pull design culture into crisp focus. He touches on classics, like Massimo Vignelli and the cover of The Catcher in the Rye, as well as newcomers, like McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and color-coded terrorism alert levels. Along the way Nabakov's Pale Fire; Eero Saarinen; the paper clip; Celebration, Florida; the planet Saturn; the ClearRx pill bottle; and paper architecture all fall under his pen. His experience as a design practitioner informs his writing and gives it truth. In Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design, designers and nondesigners alike can share and revel in his insights.

Interviews + Articles

Interviews

Facing Sideways
Step Inside Design
Adaptive Path: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


Articles

How to Make the Logo Bigger
Core 77, September 9, 2009

From Drawing Board to Desktop
New York Times, February 7, 2009

Stay Up Late
AIGA, October 7, 2005




Observed | December 09

Is there any accounting for taste? [JH]

The design team behind all things Harry Potter have a shop where their work is all on glorious display—much of it for sale! More here. [JH]

Need to explain the design process to someone who would prefer it in the form of a cartoon? Here you go. [MB]


Observed | December 08

Good design can also help the formerly homeless heal, and the socially isolated build community.” (Can it, really?) [JH]

Experience design! Service design! And now we have—wait for it—aggressive design! Samsung plans to remedy this with the Galaxy 8: no bevels, no home button, all screen. (Not aggressive at all.) [JH]

Christmas, and the incessant promotion that surrounds it, is still too weeks away—but there’s an antidote! Behold: The 2016 Haters Guide to Williams Sonoma. [JH]

How DNA technology can find out if your favorite bargain t-shirt was made with slave labor. [MB]

Pantone 15-0343—aka “greenery”—is named the 2017 color of the year. [JH]

“We’re ripe for a new cultural movement. Culture movements and art and punk rock thrive under bad presidents.” MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito on how Donald Trump is like the Sex Pistols. [MB]


Observed | December 07

A video by the American Museum of Natural History superbly demonstrates population expansion over multiple millennia. [JH]

A wonderful profile on design goddess Louise Fili—because we can’t get enough of her exquisite work, not ever! [JH]

A historic ruling by the Supreme Court on the Apple Samsung case explains what happened, and why. [JH]

“A sheet of parchment is the end product of a bloody, protracted, and very physical process that begins with the death of a calf, lamb, or kid, and proceeds thereafter through a series of grimly anatomical steps until parchment emerges at the other end. Like laws and sausages, if you love parchment it is perhaps best not to see it being made.” [MB]


Observed | December 06

Can design change the world? [JH]

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory introduce software that lets anyone design (and test) their own drone. [JH]

How a 40-year-old movie predicted today’s media dystopia. [MB]

Students and staff at RISD work with NASA to design for a new audience: life on Mars. [JH]

Best Christmas commercial of the season. Thanks, Poland! [JH]


Observed | December 05

In India, the Design Yatra is a pan-India initiative that aims to touch people’s lives through design. [JH]

How humans became consumers: a history. [MB]

From Carissa Carter at the Stanford d-school: let’s stop talking about THE design process. [MB]

Design and healthcare: a story from the UK. [JH]

How design thinking turned the Rotterdam Eye Hospital into a bright and comforting place. [MB]

The largest 3D printed object in the world debuts at Design Miami. [MB]


Observed | December 02

Design is the best weapon we have against fake news. [MB]

Frank Gehry’s design for Washington DC’s Eisenhower Memorial, long resisted by the former president’s grandchildren, inches towards approval. [MB]

“I myself am a color man; I love colors. When I see colors, my heart and emotions are taken.” Swiss design takes Shanghai! [JH]


Observed | December 01

Intentionally ugly design! Discuss amongst yourselves. [JH]

Forget the cyborg. Meet the eyeborg! [JH]

Windows new design language, set for release in 2017, is being described as a cross between holographic and augmented reality. [JH]



Jobs | December 09