The Observatory

Recent Episodes







Archive

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 | March 27

The smartphone with a mission to be used less often. [MPL]

Mike Monteiro: Ethics can‘t be a side hustle. (Thanks to Ashleigh Axios.) [MB]

Target is redesigning to take on Amazon. [MPL]


Observed | March 24

A history of the zipper. [MPL]

Designer vs Developer: Google‘s YouTube and podcast series aims to help bridge understanding. [MPL]

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on the early days of design at Apple. [JH]


Observed | March 23

Norway has redesigned its banknotes: here’s a preview. (Via Kevin Hicks.) [JH]

Gurafiku founder Ryan Hageman on Japanese graphic design. [MPL]

How a photo of a tour van became a “lovely graphic tool” in the hands of Harry Pearce. [JH]

The US Supreme Court rules that design elements can be copyrighted ... if you’re a cheerleader, that is. [JH]


Observed | March 22

10 notebooks for designers. (And they‘re not all Moleskines.) [MPL]

All of Frida Kahlo‘s anguish, beauty, and pain in, what else, 160 FridaMoji. [BV]

A collection of East German beer and drink labels. [MB]

"The standards of good design don’t change when designing for doing good.” Why the Resistance doesn’t need another logo. [MB]

“So now is a good moment to think about how protest works and what it can achieve.” An exhibition on the visual history of protest opens tomorrow at the Imperial War Museum in London. [JH]


Observed | March 21

Why Christopher Gray was the witty architectural historian everybody loved. [BV]

The Resistance has a logo. [MB]

Chicago gang business cards from the 70s and 80s. [MB]

Roman Mars ranks government logos. [MPL]

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, artistic expressions of mathematics over seven centuries. [MB]


Observed | March 20

Black + blue + swoosh = space logo. Cosma Schema wants to blast this to outer space. Meanwhile, SpaceX wants to have internet in space. [MPL]

“That is the great learning tool and the great joy of life: this idea that you sit down and out of nothing, you create something.” On the 50th anniversary of his iconic poster for Bob Dylan, an interview with Milton Glaser. [MB]

Trump’s budget is an assault against creativity in America. [MPL]

A mesmerizing data visualization of educational attainment in America. [MB]

Boot, wheelbarrow, thimble: out. Penguin, ducky, Tyrannosaurus rex: in. [MB]


Observed | March 17

Groovy textiles. [MPL]

Forget the spoonful of sugar. It’ll taste better in a spoon shaped like this. [MPL]

Subversive design ideas for a Trump border wall. [JH]

Elevating junk food, by design. (Via Ken Gordon.) [JH]


Observed | March 15

The articulate and thoughtful Toby Bottorf on “consilient” thinking in design. [JH]



Jobs | March 27