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 | August 26

Two conferences on design and health: the Transform Conference, at the Mayo Clinic and this October at Cornell, a symposium on Hospitality, Health and Design. [JH]

New museum explores the relationship of possession to loss, the madness inherent in love, and the undeniable importance of the individual’s voice in recording and interpreting history and its sweep. [JH]

Design first. Act later. [JH]

Smart design in The Hague leads to an actual conviction. Maybe design can save the world after all? [JH]


Observed | August 25

Great discoveries in the annals of UI: boosting empathy through Botox? (Yes, you read that right.) [JH]

In Washington, Federal agencies are starting to use design thinking to creatively address mission objectives and improve processes. (Not sure whether this is a good thing.) [JH]

Open to any resident of one of the 16 UNESCO “Cities of Design”a design competition focused on eliminating homelessness. [JH]

Design as a synonym for feelings? Forbes India says so. [JH]

The Rational Dress Society introduces Jumpsuit, an ungendered, multi-use monogarment for everyday wear. [MB]

Sci-fi typography obsessives, look no further! [JH]


Observed | August 24

177 film critics from around the world pick the 100 greatest films of the 21st century (so far). [MB]

Collage is cool again. (Was it ever not?) A new book from Thames and Hudson tells us why. [JH]

The amazing Anne Trubek on handwriting, and why it matters. [JH]

Susan Gardner started "gluing things" to the front of her Cobble Hill home as a therapeutic exercise after 9/11. Fifteen years later, it’s a Brooklyn landmark. [MB]

Boston’s Museum of Science announces a design competition launched by the U.S. Department of Defense. [JH]

Looking for something meaningful in these last, dog days of summer? Help San Francisco design its future transit system! [JH]

A visit with Jennifer Kinon, design director of Hillary for America. [MB]

When bad design leads to bad things. [JH]


Observed | August 23

Engineers at Princeton University have designed a scalable microchip that promises to boost efficiency and slash energy consumption. [JH]

Forget 3D Printing: at MIT’s aptly-named Self Assembly Lab, they’re onto the fourth dimension. [JH]

The Huffington Post alerts the public to the value of white space in design. Cue the modernists! [JH]

True to form, Mozilla is (sort of) open sourcing their new brand identity, inviting the world to comment on seven possible directions developed by Michael Johnson of Johnson Banks. [MB]

While in NYC, Pratt gathers kids from low-income neighborhoods to tackle tough, current issues through design. [JH]


Observed | August 22

This is the last week to see Beatriz Colomina and Pep Aviles’s Playboy Architecture: 1953-1979 at the Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House at the Elmhurst Art Museum, a mere 18 miles from the original Playboy Building. [MB]

Shocker: T.G.I. Friday’s, the most over-decorated restaurant chain in the world, goes minimalist. What will become of all that clutter? [MB]

Back to School! University of Nebraska-Lincoln adds graphic design major to compete with the “big ten”. [JH]

This is a book, but it screams to be a movie. Who doesn’t want to watch the scene where 40 of the world’s most famous architects are sequestered in a Stanford White hotel, only to be interrogated (about their creative genius) by a group of brainiac psychologists? CUT TO: the war room at the US Department of Defense—who funded part of the study. Unbelievable—but true. [JH]

"Now, everyone at MoMA PS1 probably has more to think about than a couch, but this couch is very important.” [MB]


Observed | August 20

Northeast Ohio is built like New England because it used to be owned by Connecticut. [MB]

Modernism goes to the movies: director Kogonada is currently shooting “Columbus,” a film inspired by the Indiana town’s modern architecture and starring Parker Posey and John Cho. [MB]



Jobs | August 27