Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.
















































































































































11.27.06
How Hollywood Nailed The Half-Pipe
Pixar
and Animal Logic have mastered a particularly persuasive (and as it turns out, rather literal) form of spin that makes Road Runner look like dryer lint.







09.21.06
Death 'N' Stuff
Smoking Kills: The label days it all. Or does it? Once the allegedly chilling skull and crossbones is marketed as a decorative pattern
on a silk bowtie, its credibility as an mark of peril seems, well, somewhat questionable, begging the question: have we become so bored by life that we've inadvertently become inured to death?

































06.22.05
The Adventures of Cynic Boy and Design Mom in 3D
Brainwashed I may be, but I distinctly noted an homage to
Salvador Dalí — with perhaps a gentle nod to René Magritte — last night while sitting through Robert Rodriguez's ludicrous, yet oddly luscious new movie, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D.




06.10.05
The Cut: When Life Imitates Art (I Mean Design)
CBS Television debuted its new series,
The Cut, (modeled after other reality shows such as NBC's The Apprentice)about "16 aspiring designers."







03.24.05
The Design Police
As unlikely as it sounds:  
Graphic Junkies is a photo blog by  "an active law enforcement officer in the state of Georgia." The photographs are remarkable; the context compelling.






02.18.05
My Friend Flickr
Flickr is a digital photo sharing website and web services suite that was developed by Ludicorp, a Vancouver, Canada company founded in 2002. It's a utopian oddity — a culture enabled by a technology that in turn enables a culture — and it's a brilliant example of socially networked software because it's free, its easy, and it makes sense.




02.16.05
The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block
On February 23,
Christies in New York will auction more than 1,000 items dating as far back as the early 17th century, all of it tracing the history of cyberspace.













09.24.04
Gentlemen Prefer Blogs
Watching Annie Duke beat out a half-dozen male competitors in the
World Poker Tournament this week, I experienced an odd case of déjà vu. It wasn't because of some Proustian memory of my own poker prowess — far from it, infact. Rather, what I felt was an odd sort of parallel universe with something I've been ruminating about for some time: namely, my presence here on Design Observer as the sole female contributor, and the scarcity of women who regularly participate in discussions here on this site.




































Observed | September 28

The relationship between design environments and cognitive function. Here’s the original study. [JH]

An exhibition in New York celebrates the accomplishments of the working designer while framing a larger conversation about a defining moment of creative syncretism. [JH]

Design fans? Look no further! [JH]

"When you start tinkering with things ... the consumer kind of gets a little testy.” A plea to return to the "vastly superior design" of Target (pill) bottles. [JH]

“Visually, anyway, there was a discernible arc to the event, with Mr. Trump growing more agitated as the night wore on, and Mrs. Clinton becoming almost giddy with what felt increasingly like genuine pleasure.” One reporter watches the first US Presidential debate—with the sound off. [JH]


Observed | September 27

Audi’s longstanding design flaw—and its failure to admit it. [JH]

Le Corbusier once said, “If you want to see bad taste, go into the houses of the rich.” On design—and disease. [JH]

Cory Doctorow explains design fiction. [JH]

Times Higher Education explains what a design degree is actually worth. [JH]


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]



Jobs | September 28