50 Books | 50 Covers

50 Books | 50 Covers

Established in 1923 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as “Fifty Books,” the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition is now the longest continually running design competition in the United States. Since 2012, Design Observer has hosted it. To see the 2011–2015 winners, click here. The AIGA Design Archives are here.

Enter now! The 2016 competition is open. The early entry deadline is February 10. The competition will close February 24, 2017 (late fees apply)..


Observed | January 18

“They’re the spiritual successors to the visual metaphors of early graphical user interfaces, but there’s a big difference between an icon shaped like a trash can and the tilt of a robotic eyebrow.” Visualizing AI—and why it may not be as ‘user-friendly’ as you’d think. [JH]

Trump, His Gilded Taste, and Me, a strange and prescient piece by the late Herbert Muschamp (via Paul Goldberger). [MB]

From the Department of Thespian Schadenfreude: when good actors have bad auditions. (Spoiler alert: they’re still pretty good.) [JH]

From The Amplifier Foundation—an extraordinary initiative that needs to be funded, now—before it’s too late. [JH]

From our friends at Continuum, a cogent, level-headed argument explaining why so many corporate-level design thinking initiatives are inevitably doomed to failure. [JH]

Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena launch a campaign to fund public art to protest the inauguration and beyond. [MB]


Observed | January 17

Extraordinary motion graphics from the French motion graphics genius Maxime Causeret, with music by Max Cooper. [JH]

The long lost connection between and Marilyn Monroe’s most famous scene and Design Observer’s own Bonnie Siegler. [MB]

Juventus—an Italian soccer team— reveals its pared down, minimalist new logo. You know what happens next. [JH]

“I want to create new things.” A New York Times profile of legendary book designer Irma Boom. [MB]

Peter Mendelsund on family, memory, and W.G. Sebald. [MB]

The suit is dead. Long live the suit! [JH]


Observed | January 16

V&A Head Designer Annabel Judd is taking on science. And here’s what’s happening Stateside. [JH]

Wells Fargo rejects a Black Lives Matter debit card. [JH]

Richard Prince disavows his appropriated Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump and returns the money they paid him for it. [MB]


Observed | January 13

Yves Béhar designs a robot for the elderly he’s calling a “companion”. [JH]

Mr. Poopie explores the uncanny visual relationship between poop and ice cream. (Via Modes of Criticism.) [MB]

Shepherd Fairey’s protest posters. [JH]

Beautiful data: NYC-style but open and available to all. [JH]


Observed | January 12

The newly-minted field of “behavioral design” looks to have pretty much nothing to doing with design. Is taking design’s name in vain OK? I’m starting to wonder. [JH]

Sleep Mode is an exhibition on the art of the screensaver at Het Nieuwe Institute, Rotterdam. [MB]

Engineers at UCLA have come up with a design that offers unlimited phone bandwidth. [JH]

Everything you ever wanted to know about publishers, design, and newsletters. [JH]

Forget about robots taking our jobs: in Australia a new fashion startup lets customers design their own products. [JH]

The irresistible narrative behind the legendary napkin sketch that upended US tax policy. [MB]


Observed | January 11

The folk power of Jamaican dancehall signs. [MB]

Seven ways for architecture and design firms to attract top talent. [MB]

Is Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic update to the London double decker bus being discontinued? [MB]

The shopping experience at every mall in America can be traced back to one second-tier city in the Midwest. [MB]

In honor of his 86th birthday, a quick overview of Massimo Vignelli‘s enduring NYC subway legacy. [MB]



Jobs | January 19