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 | 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]

Design doesn’t scale. [BE]

The IBM Think Pad duly recognized in an exquisite cover from the new Phaidon book on industrial designer Richard Sapper. [JH]


Observed | August 19

From AIA, initial resources for architects and designers to respond to the flooding in Baton Rouge. [MB]

Ivanka Trump’s unpaid intern explains how to survive as an unpaid intern. Really. [MB]

Instagram photos and depression. [BE]

In the UK, studies show that more University-level students are studying design. [JH]

Former MIT Media Lab guru, RISD President and the first design partner at Kleiner Perkins, the latest chapter in John Maeda’s excellent adventure. [JH]

Why thinking different might be thinking wrong. [JH]


Observed | August 18

A guided tour of the typographic history of the New Yorker, led by the magazine’s creative director Nicholas Blechman. [MB]

Three stories in the news today about innovation through design education, beginning with a new partnership from the Eastman Innovation Lab []

... design-based learning in Neil Gershenfeld’s Fab Lab []

... and a story about the impact school design has on academic achievement. [JH]

Is a "design-driven" concept vehicle a car that’s powered by typography? (If only!) This just in from Cadillac. [JH]

Pines Modern celebrates the architectural legacy of Fire Island’s legendary gay enclave. [MB]

If you love to hate the ugly houses that became ubiquitous before (and after) the bubble burst, be sure to check out the overblown world of McMansions 101. [MB]

Edel Rodriguez’s pitch-perfect illustration of a meltdown, for the cover of Time Magazine. [JH]


Observed | August 17

Douglas Axe’s new book proposes that design is intuition—and confirms it with biology. [JH]

That iconic picture of a grinning Usain Bolt? Two photographers took their own versions. [[BE]]



Jobs | August 23