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 | September 26

Design. And desire! [JH]

“The future is already here,” says Fiat design chief Ralph Gilles. ”It’s just not here. It’s in different places.” [JH]

The Art Directors Club, a fixture on the New York advertising and design scene since 1920, is closing down to be acquired by The One Club. [MB]

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fights censorship, protects First Amendment rights, and provides legal representation for comic creators facing prosecution. [JH]

One word: plastics! [JH]

A fashion guide for today’s stylish federal employee. [MB]


Observed | September 23

The reason your neighborhood increasingly resembles a boring shopping mall is because somebody’s banker prefers it that way [MB]

A pantheon of record sleeve designers pick their favorites. [MB]

Molly Young and Teddy Blanks team up to produce a periodic table of NYC trash. [JH]

The Financial Times, on the comfort—and value—of Gerrit Rietveld’s classic zig-zag chair. [JH]

A new book suggests that design is at the core of all innovation. [JH]

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text. [JH]

“In just a few years, understanding programming will be an indispensable part of active citizenship.” Reflections on the ethical dimensions of coding. [JH]


Observed | September 22

Farewell, Rollo Tamasi. Remembering the remarkably versatile director Curtis Hanson and his best movie, L.A. Confidential. [MB]

“Design to me is about improving our daily life—it is not about creating another lamp or another chair.” Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde wins the design innovation medal in London. [JH]

A deepening interest in helping to define what design in China actually means. [JH]

The EpiPen is just one more example in a long tradition of designers “solving” design problems by adding instructions, rather than fixing the underlying design itself. [JH]

TestLab Berlin—an immersive design program from ArtCenter in California. [JH]

The art schools Fidel Castro built—and then neglected. [MB]


Observed | September 21

In December, DC Comics and IDW Publishing will publish “Love Is Love,” a 144-page comic book whose proceeds will benefit Equality Florida and its fund for those affected by the June 12 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Florida. [JH]

Disney characters with a military aesthetic: painting as propaganda in (North!) Korea. [JH]

Can you get a patent for a paper bag? Apple can! [JH]

Valued at $246 billion, Tencent is Asia’s most profitable company. Here’s what went into designing their corporate headquarters. [JH]


Observed | September 20

“Design/Build” and why it’s good for everyone, especially the economy. [JH]

A new book brilliantly exposes the often overlooked relationship between architecture and the political process. [JH]

Frank Gehry redesigns Eisenhower memorial after a now-well publicized family critique. [JH]

Kickstarter projects, city by city, illuminate where creative communities live in the United States. [JH]

All 14 issues of legendary Herb Lubalin 60s magazine Avant Garde are now online! [JH]


Observed | September 19

Taschen’s new luscious book on vintage car brochures. [JH]

"Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.” Artist Maurizio Catalan has replaced the toilet in a public restroom at the Guggenheim Museum with a fully functional replica cast in 18-karat gold. [MB]



Jobs | September 26