The Observatory

Recent Episodes







Archive

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 58: The Family Circus
Green lights for the Paris Climate Accord, NY Times Magazine comics issue, Lynda Barry in Family Circus, knitting as spycraft, Jim Russek’s poster for Our Town


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 57: Communion and Commerce
A record-breaking Basquiat; design, life coaching, and therapy; Thomas de Monchaux reviews Wendy Lesser’s biography of Louis Kahn; a neural network names paint colors


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 56: All the Presidents’ Libraries
Presidential libraries, Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles for Good Design 2017 Tech Industry Edition, Ai Weiwei, I.M. Pei


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 55: Sea and Sky
Earth Day, the March for Science, EPA Graphic Standards Manual, Design and Exclusion, Big Little Lies, Five Came Back


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 54: Egos, Eggs, and Half an Onion
Twitter’s default avatar, border wall submissions, Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, School for Justice, the Uline catalog


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 53: On Writing Well
#trypod, Dan Brown cover contest, Design in Tech, writing for designers, The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 52: Dictator Style
Peter York on autocrat chic, Sunday in the Park with George, BBC interview with Robert Kelly, Jessica Dimmock’s The Convention


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 51: Vintages
Behance Design Trends of 2017, George Nelson’s How to See, Michael K. Williams, W.E.B. Du Bois’ infographics


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 50: What Democracy Looks Like
The Women’s March, Parker Palmer, The Young Pope, Oreos, Girl Scout Cookies


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 49: My First Tattoo
Tattoos, Type 1 diabetes, ID cards, taking MBA students to the art gallery, Kerry James Marshall, Mark Rothko, Mike Mills, the 2017 Citizen Designer Pledge


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 48: Lella and La La
Lella Vignelli, John Berger, Second Avenue Subway, Jackie, La La Land


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 47: True Colors
Pantone’s color of the year, Time’s Person of the Year, Arrival, The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog, Seinfeldia


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 46: TV Party
TV party: Search Party, The Crown, Fleabag, Crisis in Six Scenes, Highston, I Love Dick, Daniella Zalcman, the fallout shelter sign


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 45: I’m With(out) Her
Election night, Brand Trump and the presidency, Design That Matters, Facebook’s flawed news feed


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 44: In Dreams
Marcin Wichary visits the Technology Museum of Emporda, Vine, Grand Central Station vistas, deluxe composition notebooks, Errol Morris on Elsa Dorfman, bad ballot design, Grilli Type’s GT America, Transparent, Elaine Lustig Cohen.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 43: The End Is Near
Campaign fatigue, advertising and viral video, voting technology, intellectualism in the design community, the art of David Pease, the 1986 Mets


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Doors and Perception
Bathroom signs, MBA students, Mozilla and open logo design, The Commissar Vanishes, Masters of Sex


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Memory Loss
The Napalm Girl photo on Facebook, 9/11 out of context, Apple stores and the iPhone 7 launch, the Doctor Strangelove trailer, Wiener-Dog, Pantsuit


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Food for Thought
Samsung v. Apple, the International Style v. capitalism, Sausage Party, mozzarella sticks


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Passing the Torch
Olympics, cursive handwriting, NASA’s secret art studio, gun sales on Facebook, #firstsevenjobs


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Rough Sketches
Trump-Pence, Clinton-Kaine, Black Lives Matter, The Four Seasons, mapping the brain, the video essay


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Border Control
Brexit, borders, naming, Fiorello La Guardia and his airport, robot dogs, though leadership, Snapfax


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
A Seat at the Table
The President needs a Cabinet-level Secretary of Design — or a design consigliere


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Mind-Body Problems
Nutrition Facts, Mark Bittman’s food rating system, colon cancer screening, Time Well Spent, Peter Arno, Flat File


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Good, the Flat, and the Ugly
Instagram, rainbows, digital brutalism, Design: The Invention of Desire, the Freewrite.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Prisons and Paradise
Solitary confinement, virtual reality, design thinking for prisoners, Drew Hodges’s Broadway, The Paradise, Prince’s unpronounceable glyph


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
High Maintenance
Innovators and maintainers, Bernie and Hillary, mapping and infrastructure, algorithms and Rembrandt


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Shapes and Japes
Corporate design humor from Mic Drop to bland.ly, photoviz, remembering Zaha Hadid


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Crowd Control
Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Logosphere
The Met and the logosphere, designing with scientists, the Clinton-Sanders graphics race


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Magic on the Page
Matthias Buchinger, Beyonce, Mohawk Superfine at 70, Umberto Eco



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Guys and Dolls
Barbie and Rey, food and design, 30 years after the Challenger disaster



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Working-Class Heroes
British art schools, Bowie, Alan Rickman, the State of the Union, cannabis chocolate


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
State of the Chart
Data visualization, The Big Short



Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Hello
Michael finally gets an iPhone, the Pirelli calendar, Amy Schumer, design and TV 



Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Brute Force
Behind the Bataclan, pigeon pathologists, Design Thinking at IBM, the Coke bottle at 100, Michael Gross



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Magnitude
Climate change, Drake’s take on James Turrell, an IKEA horror catalog


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Opposite of Ugly
Michael Bierut’s monograph, the lost art of album art, ugliness


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Basic Human Needs
IKEA and Facebook efforts for refugees, e-reading, Adrian Frutiger, Phil Patton



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Moving Pictures
Aylan Kurdi, photojournalism, airline posters, early television


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
September Issues
Google’s new logo, design thinking, and lessons from Oliver Sacks



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Over the Rainbow
Rainbows, selfie sticks, and the flag of New Zealand


Jessica Helfand + Andrew Howard
New Horizons
Pluto is at the outer limits of the solar system. Porto is at the end of Europe.


Jessica Helfand + Willy Wong
Places and Faces
Art, nostalgia, and community


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
M Is for a Million Things
Milan, Mario Batali, Michelle Obama, Moshe Safdie, Modernism, MOO (our sponsor), Michael Erard, metaphor design, Macintosh icons, Massimo Vignelli....


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Knockout
Are boxing and photography hipster pleasures? Are they past their prime, or do they have a bright future?


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
150 Years, 7 Minutes, 6 Seconds
Visualizing business data, a logo to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and more.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
East Meets West
Or collaboration vs. “one person making one thing at one time”


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Inside the Lines
Michael and Jessica discuss the The Grid, which uses artificial intelligence to design websites, the history of grids, and the unlikely success of coloring books for adults.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: The Inevitable
On this episode, Michael and Jessica talk about death (not taxes): how designers have to think about preventing death and representing death, and whether death is “just another design challenge.” Also, the color blue.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Land, Rand, Mad Men
Michael and Jessica talk about a panel they participated in at the Paul Rand exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, plus the return of Mad Men and the fate of photography giants Kodak and Polaroid.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Such Watch
On this episode of The Observatory, Michael and Jessica talk about Jonathan Ive, the rollout of the Apple Watch, and Michael Graves


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: FYI We Are Graphic Designers
This week, Michael and Jessica talk about graphic designers on screen, highlights from What Design Sounds Like, and Michael’s trip to Design Indaba.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Words, Pictures, Sounds
A few things on our minds


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Our Favorite Things
On this episode, Jessica Helfand talks about her Paris 140 series, and Michael Bierut describes his 100 Day Project + some of the cultural highlights of the year.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Dollars and Change
On this episode of The Observatory, Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand discuss the midterm election and currency design.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Epidemics and Theater
On this episode of The Observatory, Jessica and Michael talk about design, performance, and fear of Ebola. 


The Editors
Announcing The Observatory
A new monthly podcast with Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand



Observed | July 20

Inside the high-profile Gilded Age resort you never heard of. [BV]

Some science to start your day: your brain doesn‘t contain memories—it is memories. [BV]


Observed | July 19

In the eye of the beholder: 2 photographers shoot radically different portraits of Detroit. [BV]


Observed | July 17

Karrie Jacobs discovered a manhole in the meadow in Prospect Park, a 526 acre park in Brooklyn and America’s premiere example of man-made nature. [BV]

It‘s World Emoji Day. Seriously. So what are the most popular emojis? [BV]

In case you missed it, there’s a woman’s name on the Declaration of Independence: Mary Katharine Goddard. She was the printer. [MB]


Observed | July 14

Rethinking prison design: the rise of the “justice hub”. [JH]

All hail the pepper mill! [JH]

Proving there is indeed no accounting for taste, Paris Hilton brags about her boyfriend’s tattoo “in a Disney font”. [JH]

Alan Kay on Quora: what you probably don’t know about Steve Jobs’s legendary 1979 visit to Xerox PARC. [MB]


Observed | July 13

Invaluable: a commonsense guide to PR and media relations from the brilliant Paul Ford. [MB]


Observed | July 12

The Mayor of London, announces the formation of a new social enterprise, Public Practice, to place talented designers and planners in local authorities for up to a year. [JH]

Just in case you need it: copyright law for balloon artists. [MB]


Observed | July 11

What’s the line between sampling ... and stealing? [JH]

Disability as design outcome. [JH]


Observed | July 10

Revealed at last: the world’s favorite color. [MB]


Observed | July 07

Leaving your footprint in nature, literally. [BV]

The creator of McMansion Hell on a new strain of modern houses for the masses. [BV]

Great piece: in the age of streaming TV, who needs title sequences? [MB]


Observed | July 05

Why do architects design furniture? [MB]

Steven Heller and Gail Anderson talk about their new book, ‘Type Tells Tales,’ a fascinating tour of books in which typefaces plays an active part in visual storytelling. [BV]

Design and exclusion. Full transcript here. [JH]


Observed | July 04

Why does the NRA hate modern architecture? [MB]

I wish Thom Browne had been around when I wore a grey uniform to school in the 1970s. Yikes! [JH]

Daddy, why are airplane windows round? [MB]

The alarmingly beautiful wiring inside the human brain. (Via Peter Lloyd Jones.) [JH]


Observed | July 03

Rethinking design in the age of fake news: how journalism is changing. [JH]

The extraordinary and mesmerizing detail of paper artistry. [JH]

Hats off to Claire Robinson, a design professor in New Zealand who wasn’t afraid to criticize the navy for crowdsourcing a design problem! [JH]

In defense of White House calligraphers. [MB]



Jobs | July 22