Our own Bonnie Siegler takes your questions
Diffident in Detroit
Frightened in Fort Lauderdale
The benefits of being scared
Su Mathews Hale
Debbie talks to Su Matthews Hale about her efforts to bring more attention to female designers
A Designer Runs For Office
Matt Tomasulo was a successful tactical urbanist. Then he ran for public office.
Unsure in Utica
Measuring up — or not
Design Matters From the Archive: Noah Brier
Design Matters From the Archive: Clement Mok
Design Matters From the Archive: Bob Gill
Design Matters from the Archive: Michael Donovan + Nancye Green
Michael Donovan + Nancye Green on their partnership in marriage and design.
How Rotten Apple’s human-scale design interventions use built-environment cast-offs to enhance the built environment
Design Matters From The Archive: Massimo Vignelli
Debbie talks to Massimo Vignelli about his favorite typeface, his fight against vulgarity in his design, and what he means by forceful design.
Baffled in Buffalo
Food for (the Designer's) Thought
Design, food, and teaching today—and where they intersect.
Design Matters From The Archive: Marian Bantjes
Debbie talks to Marian Bantjes about her daring typography and her highly ornamental designs.
Design Matters From the Archive: Tina Roth Eisenberg
Design Matters From The Archive: James Victore
The Observatory: Land, Rand, Mad Men
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman speaks with Louise Sandhaus about her macrobiotic past, her new book, and her struggles to get it published.
License to Risk: The Square Revisited
Jessica Helfand shares her MFA thesis
Dear Bonnie: Lost in London
Are you as good as you think you are? Is your job?
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Justin Ahrens about designing for social change and his book.
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks with designer Ji Lee about why he hates most advertising, but why he loves the idea of advertising on Facebook (where he works).
"Bap, barm, or cob?"
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Ben Schott about the importance of failing early in one’s career, about how to take a politician’s picture, and about writing and designing his own books.
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Petter Ringbom about his years at the creative agency Flat, and how he moved away from graphic design into filmmaking.
Ideas Come First
The observations of a graphic designer as client
Dear Bonnie: Lost in Louisville
Celebrating Labor Day
Assignments for Yourself
A designer's book of self-assignments prompts us to learn by going "beyond what is asked" in our workaday professional lives.
Dear Bonnie: Deals in Dillon + A Giveaway
Dear Bonnie: Nervous in Nantucket
This week Dear Bonnie encourages a new-ish employee to speak up!
Dear Bonnie: Dissed in Denver
This week Dear Bonnie reminds a 19 year old intern what it means to be a 19 year old intern.
Dear Bonnie: Partnering in Peoria
What questions do you ask to start a business partnership off right? Dear Bonnie has a few.
Dear Bonnie: Wondering in Westport
Dear Bonnie: Aggrieved in Atlanta + Bumming in Brooklyn
Dear Bonnie: Lost on Long Island + Stuck in Schenectady
This week Dear Bonnie tackles what to do when your client stops returning your calls, and how to get your brain moving.
Dear Bonnie: Cringing in Charleston
This week Dear Bonnie gets to the heart of the conundrum that is graphic design. Designers represent the needs of both art and commerce, which means they serve many masters.
Steven Heller on Mentors
One minute of insight on Former Managing Editor of the NY Times Arthur Gelb, the most inspiring and infuriating editor Steven Heller ever worked with.
Noah Brier on brands, design and content in the age of social media.
Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award
Sylvia Harris is widely recognized as a pioneer, a generous mentor and a vital inspiration to the field of social impact design. In that spirit, the Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award has been established to honor her legacy by supporting other vanguards dedicated to public design.
Building a Design Culture in an ‘End-Up’ Technology World
Yourselves: Declaring Ourselves
Dear Bonnie: Reeling in Rotterdam + Apprehensive in Austin
This week Dear Bonnie tackles clients who don't pay and clients who think you've stolen a logo. Excellent advice from Bonnie Siegler.
Steven Heller talks about graphic design before it was called graphic design, and about whether design magazines have a future in print.
Dear Bonnie: Taunted in Tehran
This week Dear Bonnie answer Taunted in Tehran about proper credits when you've collaborated with a group, but one person runs off with the idea.
How operating a searchlight influenced Alexander Isley's approach to design.
Dear Bonnie: Mixed up in Martinsville
This week Dear Bonnie answers Mixed up in Martinsville about how to deal with clients without burning bridges. The key: written agreements.
Maria Giudice talks with Debbie Milliman about the early days of design on the internet, and what it's like to work for Facebook.
Critical Graphic Design: Critical of What?
A review of the current state of critical graphic design.
Michael Donovan + Nancye Green
Debbie talks to Michael Donovan + Nancye Green about their life and work partnership and how good business is good design.
There's an empty shipping container at Future in Half Moon Bay, CA and Future is looking to fill it with some summer design interns for their program: Future Mavericks.
Dear Bonnie: Frustrated in Florida
This week's advice from Dear Bonnie focuses on how to handle on those people who think graphic design is as easy as a 1-2-3 click.
Design Director of More Magazine, Debra Bishop discusses her career designing for magazines, including her years working for Martha Stewart, and the tension between designers and editors.
2014 Porto Summer Editorial Design Course
Herewith, why you should seriously consider the 2014 Porto Summer Editorial Design Course.
Inalienable Rights, Wolfsonian-Style
Joe Marianek talks about decisions that shaped his career and about the process of getting hired at Apple.
The Design Office 2014 Summer Fellowship
The Design Office fellowship exists to encourage recent graduates of bachelor's and master's programs in design (or fields related) to continue their own body of work within our community of independent practitioners.
Designed by: Lella Vignelli
To celebrate 50 years of their partnership, Massimo Vignelli published a book of the work of his partner and wife, Lella.
Susan S. Szenasy with Debbie Millman at The Museum of Arts and Design
Thursday, March 20th Susan S. Szenasy will talk with Debbie Millman at The Museum of Arts and Design about her distinguished career as a design critic, journalist and educator.
Open Source Politics/Open Source Design
Dear Bonnie: Confused in Connecticut
You’ll Never Guess the Amazing Ways Online Design Writing and Criticism Has Changed
Design Matters Spring 2014 Schedule Announced
We are thrilled that Design Matters will be returning for it's spring season on Monday, March 10. The episodes will air each Monday afternoon at 3pm.
Dear Bonnie: Women of Washington + Young in Youngstown
This week's advice from Dear Bonnie focuses on women: are there enough women represented on jury panels, in board rooms, anywhere; and is there any specific advice for young female designers?
What Bill Knew
Dear Bonnie: Cheated in Chicago
This week Dear Bonnie — our truth-telling advice column from Bonnie Siegler — advises independent artist "Cheated in Chicago" on the best course of action when her work is being used by a large brand without her permission.
Dear Bonnie: Trapped In Toledo + Desperately Seeking Designers
Dear Bonnie: Tips for Toyland
Dear Bonnie: Bullied in Brighton
Amanda Michel + Amy Webb, co-founders of Spark Camp
Debbie Millman talks to Spark Camp founders Amanda Michel + Amy Webb about redesigning the traditional conference and its lasting effect on participants.
No, No, No, No, No, Yes
In this excerpt from his book No, No, No, No, No, Yes. Insights From A Creative Journey, Gideon Amichay pushes past no to yes.
Designer’s Cookbook: Jake Tilson
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks to Matteo Bologna about his early years in Italy, his addiction to typography and the question of self-confidence.
The Trifecta of Feedback
The value of feedback and a proposal for the best ways to receive it.
Dear Bonnie: Interested in India + Window Dressing in Wisconsin
This week Dear Bonnie tackles online vs. offline design studios, client retention and the future of retail window dressing.
Lead designer for CocaCola's Vitaminwater and Powerade Alex Center talks about his love of brands.
Rise of the DEO
An excerpt from the book Rise of the DEO by Maria Giudice & Christopher Ireland.
Steven Heller on Panic
Dear Bonnie: Troubled in Techworld + Befuddled in Buffalo
We are auctioning off a baseball signed by 21 designers at the 2013 AIGA National Conference.
Jeff Miller on Timing
Cheryl Heller on Words
On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Cheryl Heller discusses valuable words.
Megan Whitmarsh on Originality
On this episode of Insights Per Minute Megan Whitmarsh considers originality.
Alexandra Lange on Performance
Announcing Dear Bonnie, a new truth-telling weekly advice column from Bonnie Siegler.
Designer’s Cookbook: George Lois
George Lois designs iconic Esquire covers, but you should hear him talk about food.
The Frontier Fellowship provides creative professionals the opportunity to live and work in Green River, Utah. From this rural place, and in the context of the frontier, Fellows have the opportunity to generate new work that is informed by the surrounding desert landscape and the residents of Green River.
Firebelly Design founder Dawn Hancock discusses what it means to be a socially conscious designer.
Jennifer Kinon + Bobby Martin
OCD Designers Jennifer Kinon + Bobby Martin talk about their design philosophy — and their general willingness to do the unexpected.
Krista Donaldson on Users
On this episode of Insights Per Minute Krista Donaldson comments on users of design.
Mariana Amatullo on Honesty
On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Mariana Amatullo speaks on honesty.
Typographer Oded Ezer talks about the idea of a universal language — and how his limitations as a musican and poet led to his extraordinary typography.
Debbie Millman talks to interior designer Sheila Bridges about being one of the only prominent African Americans in her industry, about losing her hair and having Bill Clinton as a client.
Remembering Alvin Eisenman
Alvin Eisenman received the AIGA Medal in October, 1991. Chris Pullman, a student in Eisenman's class of 1966 — and a member of the faculty ever since — gave these remarks at the event.
Status Quo or Transformation? A False Choice
An open letter to AIGA.
Legendary book designer Chip Kidd on why his TED talk was the 19 most frightening minutes of his life.
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.
New Season of Design Matters with Debbie Millman
Today begins a new season of Design Matters with weekly broadcasts every Monday afternoon through the end of the year.
Enrique Allen on Introductions
On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Enrique Allen, co-director of the Designer Fund, gives advice on introductions.
Sean Adams on Typography
On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Sean Adams comments on typography.
Design Observer: Ten Years
Steff Geissbühler on Color Blind
On this episode of Insights Per Minute Steff Geissbühler recalls being told he was color blind.
Design Is One
Opening Friday at the IFC center: Design is One — Lella and Massimo Vignelli.
Shaping Design Education at LEAP Symposium
A review by Andrew Shea of the recent, September 19-24, 2013, LEAP symposium at Art Center College of Design.
The Millennial Designer
Young designers and design students today pursue the rewards of creativity
Heteronormative Design Discourse
The question of sexual identity, a central focus of a great deal of thought in recent decades, has received scant attention in the design world.
Steven Heller on Recommendations
Mark Lamster on Complaining
Alice Twemlow on Home
Rob Walker on Seeing
This Insight Per Minute features Rob Walker on seeing.
Jessica Helfand on Brevity
A World of Paste and Paper
One Idea. One Minute. One Voice.
On Monday, Design Observer will debut a new podcast series. We're calling it Insights Per Minute.
A Manifesto for Higher Learning
Andrew Howard, MA course director in Communication Design at ESAD — Escola Superior de Artes e Design in Matosinhos, Portugal — shares this with his incoming graduate students each year.
The Trip From Bountyful
Ralph Caplan on his first job: staff writer on a putatively satirical magazine just being formed.
Working For Free
A designer posts an ad on Craigslist for other professionals to provide work for free.
How To Unforget
The straightforward logic of “A Handbook of California Design” makes it the first step in unforgetting two generations of makers.
Michael Rock about self-hatred in design, the benefits of being an outsider, and his new book.
Special Summer Series of Design Matters with Debbie Millman
The special series will include interviews with Michael Rock, Jean-Louis Cohen, Brenda Danilowitz and Phillip Tiongson, Harmut Essinger and Leon Krier.
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 2
In the mid-1990s, Inkahoots became a graphic design studio with its sights set on social causes.
Organizations most responsive to change are often the ones that replace the orchestral model with a new one — the jazz combo.
50 Books/50 Covers 2012 Winners Announced
Continuing a tradition that dates back to 1922, we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show.
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 1
The Australian design team Inkahoots is a model of community-based graphic design practice.
From the Archive: Upgrade Yourself!
If appearances matter more than ever, as we are constantly told, the personal makeover has become our most fundamental design task.
AIGA (Re)design Awards
The AIGA (Re)design Awards is an international graphic design competition celebrating the most influential designs that advocate for strong communities, sustainable environments and thriving economies.
Designer, educator and author Maggie Macnab talks about what designers can learn from nature — and what they can give back.
Be an AIGA Design Star
Command X — the AIGA live design reality show that happens on stage at the biennial design conference — is back for its fourth season.
Jessica Walsh once sold moss-covered rocks to her elementary school classmates. Today, she's Stefan Sagmeister's partner in Sagmeister + Walsh.
Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America
Michigan was an epicenter of modern design in postwar America, this summer the story will be told through a symposium at the Cranbrook Educational Community and an exhibition at the Cranbrook Art Museum.
8 Ways to Grow New York’s Design Sector
New York City is home to more designers than any other U.S, city and a top location in the world for cutting-edge design. NYCxDESIGN — the city’s first citywide design festival, launching this week —builds on much of that activity to increase awareness about what design is and what it can do. But there is more the city can do to solidify New York’s claim as a capital of design.
Saul Bass Google Doodle
Google celebreates Saul Bass with a Doodle.
Wendy MacNaughton + Caroline Paul
Wendy MacNaughton and Caroline Paul on a journey from advertising to Rwanda to illustration, and from Stanford to firefighter to author.
counter/point: The 2013 D-Crit Conference
The 2013 D-Crit Conference will take place on Saturday, May 11, 2013.The lineup includes Paola Antonelli, Andrew Blauvelt, Fiona Raby, Mark Foster Gage, Toni Griffin, and Michael Sorkin.
The 99 Factor: A Man About Town + Country
Emily Oberman's three acts — from Tibor Kalman at M&Co, to Number Seventeen with Bonnie Siegler, to becoming a partner at Pentagram.
AIGA Medal for Design Excellence
Design Observer co-founders Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel are recipients of this year's AIGA Medal for Design Excellence.
Architecture Without Signs
If you can't find the entrance, there's a problem with the architecture.
Jennifer Sterling on her process, how money should be designed, and the way teaching has influenced her career.
Digital strategist and author Amy Webb on how she gamed online dating to find her husband.
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman interviews Cliff Sloan about everything marketing.
Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders
“Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders” is a weeklong AIGA professional development program that gives senior-level designers valuable insights into the issues faced by corporate executives.
Free Desk Here
Free Desk Here is a collaboration initiative set up by Nick Couch to encourage collaboration between design professionals.
We The Designers
“We the Designers” is a national exhibition of self-authored graphic design on view through April 5 at the AIGA National Design Center in NYC.
The Original Paradox
The value of creating new designs, rather than being "original".
Envisioning Design: Education, Culture, Practice
The Department of Art at the University of Northern Iowa is hosting a symposium April 26-27 called Envisioning Design: Education, Culture, Practice.
Steven Heller discusses his new ebook, Design Cult, and reflects on what designers have in common with Harvey Weinstein.
Clement Mok on the early days of Apple computer, the joys of working for Steve Jobs and starting his successful businesses.
Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich
Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich discusses growing up in Brazi, the role of art versus design, and why it is so important to be witty.
Unit Editions interview with Ronald Shakespear.
When Less Was More
Jessica Helfand reminisces about her first graphic design job.
Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport
Marion Deuchars on the expressiveness of hand lettering, how drawing is an intensive form of looking, and the need to be messy when creating art.
Positively Michael Patrick Cronan
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Jason Kottke talks about blogging for over fourteen years and what it means to be "old" online.
Christopher Simmons discusses his lastest book, Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes, and reflects on why designers should be continually redefining their profession.
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Jake Barton discusses wanting to be a doctor, how he became a media designer and how to get people to interact.
Lunch With The Critics: Third-Annual Year-End Awards
Louise Fili discusses the importance of sketching, her obsession with typography and why she prefers working with small organizations.
Rafael Esquer discusses growing up on a farm, working with the city and what it takes to make it in the design business.
Bosnian-born designer and illustrator Mirko Ilic discusses his early career behind the iron curtain, his prolific drawing and his current career in New York.
Debbie Millman talks to her colleague Austin McGhie, who explains why brand could be a four letter word.
“I Have Seen the Future”: Designer as Showman
The exhibition ldquo;I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America,” hits all the high spots of industrial design within a single man’s oeuvre.
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Aaron Draplin talks about being comfortable in his own skin, midwestern pragmatism and why Oregon beats the shit out of SoCal.
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Chris Ware discusses his influences – including sending a Valentine to Charlie Brown – and explains why empathy figures so heavily into his work.
Merle Armitage: Daddy of a Sunbaked Modernism
New Season of Design Matters with Debbie Millman
Design Matters returns for a new season on Friday, October 19, 2012.
Let’s Talk About Women in Architecture
A panel on Women in Design, and questions about whether such panels should exist.
Just Keep Typing
An excerpt from the new book Breakthrough! Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination that involves Post-It notes, legal pads and baking.
London Design Festival 2012
Overview of the tenth London Design Festival.
Designing Design into Society
A report on the Design Ethos 2012 DO-ference.
What Is, Or Is Not, a ‘Green Job’?
Gene & Jackie Lacy
Gene and Jackie Lacy, Indianapolis-based graphic designers and illustrators practicing from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions
How a disruption in routine (potentially by design) can alter the environment.
Randy J. Hunt
Etsy creative director Randy J. Hunt discusses working for Milton Glaser, his record label and the challenges of managing a brand as diverse as Etsy.
James Victore's Q&A Tuesday
James Victore is presenting a weekly YouTube series – Q+A Tuesday – in which he addresses a questions about working in a creative industry.
The Closed Shop of Design Academia
Shouldn’t it be part of a design academic’s brief to communicate more widely with the design profession and public?
Why is it that countervailing facts don’t change things in our evidence-based world? And what might we do about it?
Woody Allen, Creative Management Genius
Designing for Social Change
Designing for Social Change is a toolkit of strategies, case studies, and stories, offering new opportunities for approaching social design in our communities.
NYC Design Schools: Catalysts for Economic Growth?
Design schools may be the real engines of New York City’s innovation economy, according to a new report published by the Center for an Urban Future.
Design Indaba 2012
Design Indaba 2012 gathered creative people from graphic and product design, architecture and landscape, film and video, not to mention Danish gastronomy and Bollywood movies.
When Less Really Does Mean Less
Since the banking crises of 2008, designers fromWestern nations are learning painfully to adapt to the new reality: less is the new normal.
Designers Leap, Users Lag
Trying to meet the challenges designers and engineers set for us is pretty much hopeless, though we can have a lot of fun trying.
Designing an Educational Breakthrough
A new initiative recruits young adults to create ways to promote adolescent literacy
Lunch With The Critics: Second-Annual Year-End Awards
From Twitter to Apollo, Barbie to Occupy Everywhere: The best and worst moments in design for 2011.
Better Service Through Consultmanship
On a neglected area of design education
Architecture's Internship Requirement Needs a Redesign
An argument for rethinking architecture's internship requirement
Design and the Social Sector: An Annotated Bibliography
This bibiography surveys the literature of social design — the spectrum from design process and thinking to the zones of social innovation.
Remembering Richard Hamilton as Design Critic
Alice Twemlow remembers Richard Hamilton, artist and design writer.
An Interview with Laurence King
Mark Lamster interviews Laurence King, the publisher.
From the Archive: Down with Innovation
What We Can Learn from Project Runway
As 'Project Runway' launches its 9th season, a designer muses on what she's learned.
Ten Ways to Redesign Design Competitions
How to improve design competitions aimed at social good.
Welcome to the Hall of Femmes
How should we celebrate women in design, past, present, future?
Winterhouse: A Video
A short film about Winterhouse, the studio of William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand. It was made for the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2010. Film written and directed by Andrew Sloat.
Seven Things Designers Can Learn from Stand Up Comics
Stand up comedy, a high-risk creative enterprise, has interesting lessons for designers.
The Only Thing There’s Just Too Little Of
What parenthood and artistic endeavor have in common: not enough time.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Cub
Is design strictly a set of rules?
IDEO announces a new nonprofit organization.
Work Faster, India!
Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists
It was not until 1958 when Lester Beall’s Freedom of the Press was issued, that a (future) AIGA Medalist would design an official government postage stamp.
What Kind of Design Institutes for India?
An influential group of design thought-leaders has launched a campaign called VisionFirst that calls for a “rigorous co-creation process to bring clarity to the models of design education that India should seek.”
Like the Word or Not, the Era of "Sustainism" Is Here
Hester Street Collaborative
Report on Hester Street Collaborative's pro-bono design model.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mentor, Or, Why Modernist Designers Are Superior
Does a strict upbringing make you a better designer?
Mensch at Work
Review of The Power of Pro Bono
Michael Bierut on Clients
A video of Michael Bierut giving a talk on the subject of clients.
How to Chew Gum while Walking
UnBox: Where Next for Design in India?
Plastics: An Apoplexy
I woke up in the middle of the night stewing about plastics. In particular, the continuing, insidious use of excessive and totally unnecessary plastics in packaging.
Designer Finds History, Publishes Book
Andrew Blauvelt takes stock of the graphic design history movement that began in the 1980s.
The Meek Shall Inherit the Market
Phil Patton writes in praise of frugal engineering, and not just for developing markets.
Design Ethos: A Bugle of Change
Essay endorsing a new definition of graphic design practice.
James Victore: Straight Up
"Few designers have done more to render typography foundries irrelevant than Victore. The human hand, his hand, is always in evidence." Michael Bierut on James Victore's work.
Death to Design Awards
Essay attacking design awards for stifling innovation
Michael Bierut on 86 Notebooks
Michael Bierut video of a talk on the 86 notebooks he's kept over the course of his career and design lessons derived from them.
The Bakers Table
Those tables taught me something. I realized that by designing them I had turned impoverishment into enterprise. I had transcended my own inhibiting academic world and briefly explored the material presences of daily life.
Publishing in the Age of the Internet
Design/Research, published by Unit Editions, are collectable "papers" which, focus on design and visual communication, from the past, by placing it in a future context.
The Language of Design Imperialism
Essay on the flawed language used to describe humanitarian design efforts and what it indicates.
The Dream Job Project Part II
How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? The results of these questions, part II.
Humanitarian Design vs. Design Imperialism: Debate Summary
Bruce Nussbaum started a firestorm with the question "Is humanitarian design the new imperialism?" — and the conversation has spread through the blogosphere. Here, a digest of essays and related posts on this subject.
Teaching in a Time of Uncertainty
Meditation on the doubt creeping into today's design practice.
The Next Great Graphic Designer
Tonight on Bravo's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" the winning Penguin book cover design will be unveiled, which begs a few questions. We hope our readers will weigh in with their opinions.
“We Can’t Really Pay”
All of you print people who scorned bloggers but have moved into blogging and helm publications that “blog,” earth to you: You don’t pay.
Catapult Design: How to Run a Design Firm for Social Change
Catapult Design’s nonprofit model offers a new way to think about how designers can engage social innovation projects.
New Meaning at ICFF
A review of the 2010 International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
Bellagio Design Symposium: Core77 Report
Allan Chochinov of Core77, sums up his experience at the Bellagio Design Symposium, the annual Salone Del Mobile Furniture Fair in Milan and being hostage to the whims of a volcano.
On Inksie: Good Design is Aesthetic
I was asked by the editors of Inksie to write about Dieter Rams and his ten principles for good design. Luckily they assigned me my favorite
Design for Change Contest
Kiran Bir Sethi is a designer, teacher, principal, advocate and social entrepreneur. Now her “Design for Change Contest,” a recent initiative that swept India in 2009, is expanding globally.
Design Thinking Comes to the U.S. Army
Design is almost overnight the centerpiece of military doctrine and the U.S. Army has gotten design thinking quite right. The struggle to get design thinking ensconced in Army doctrine, though, is no easy feat.
The Lines That Divide
The debate continues over who will be the new Head of Department for the Communication Art & Design course at London's Royal College of Art.
Peter Bilak & Satya Rajpurohit: Interview on Typography
Dirk Wachowiak interviews Peter Bilak and Satya Rajpurohit on their recent collaboration, the Hindi version of Bilak’s Fedra.
The Volunteer Design Chronicles (Lincoln, NE)
Community-focused pro-bono design activities in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Better Living Through Artistry
SEWA, a cooperative textile manufacturing company in Ahmedebad, India, is a network of self-employed women.
Aspen Design Summit: Film
This short film by GoodFocus Films captures participant perspectives at the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009.
DesigNYC is the latest grass-roots organization to match socially minded designers with nonprofits.
Who Owns Student Work?
The prevailing opinion at many design schools is that faculty and the university have some “ownership rights” in the output of any class. In other words, students don't own their own work. An opposing viewpoint.
Hands-On: The Gropius Touch
I couldn’t believe no one else had noticed that Ati Gropius Johansen was coming to the MoMA, and it seemed like a piece of history.
Prepared for Haiti
Tony Whitfield meditates on the assistance designers should give in Haiti following the earthquake, and in future catastrophes.
Aspen Design Summit Report: Sustainable Food and Childhood Obesity
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Sustainable Food Project focused on accelerating the shift from a global, abstract food system to a regional, real food system via a robust portfolio of activities — including a grand challenge and a series of youth-engagement programs.
Aspen Design Summit Report: CDC and Healthy Aging
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the CDC Healthy Aging Project began with the initial premise to enhance the ability of public health entities to determine whether adults 50 and over have received recommended preventive health services. The Project developed a “5 over 50” concept and brand name, and a new goal: to double the current number of people who are “up to date” with these preventive measures.
Aspen Design Summit Report: Hale County Rural Poverty Project
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Hale County Rural Poverty Project conceived of a socio-economic model of resource allocation through an online platform for accelerated regional development in the Black Belt counties of rural Alabama.
Aspen Design Summit: Participants
The Aspen Design Summit, November 11-14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, involved 64 participants — designers, experts, researchers, educators, and representatives of NGOs, foundations and businesses. This the complete attendee list of participants.
Holiday Books 2009
Recommended books by Design Observer writers for the 2009 holiday season.
The Value of Empathy
Andy Chen responds to the debate between David Stairs and Valerie Casey on the recent surge of social design activity.
Not the Same Old Same Old
It’s hard not to agree that cars, though better designed and engineered than ever, are often pressed into plebian duty.
The Kindness of Strangers
Debate between graphic designer David Stairs and Designers Accord founder Valerie Casey about designers' roles and limits as social activists.
What is Design Thinking Anyway?
Most companies today rely on analytical thinking. Roger Martin applies these principles to business practices.
Design & Development: Interview with 4baq
John Thakra discusses sustainability, design and development with 4baq.
Compulsion: Where Object Meets Anxiety
At the age of 30, my brother turned to our mother and said, “I never thought I’d make is this far.” In his early 20s, he was officially diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
When Design Gets in the Way
When it comes to fulfilling simple human desires, can design get in the way? A call for more incrementalism in design.
Open Letter to Design Students Everywhere
Make Sense, Not Stuff
John Thackara presents a three-step plan to connect design schools to the green economy.
McSweeney’s Founder Dave Eggars is also the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity! and What Is The What.
Dee Dee Gordon
Dee Dee Gordon is a renowned youth culture expert whose research has been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times Magazine.
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie speaks with Allan Chochinov, editor-in-chief of Core77.com, the widely read design website.
Former principal of the interaction design firm io360, Gong Szeto is Director of design and product design at Peak6 Investments.
An interview with Patrick Coyne, editor of Communication Arts, with special guests Milton Glaser and Cheryl Heller.
Natalia Ilyin is a design critic and educator and ithe author of two books — Blonde Like Me, and Chasing the Perfect: Thoughts on Modernist Design in Our Time.
Joe Duffy + Nate Voss
The Reflex Blue's Nate Voss interviews Joe Duffy about his work for some of the most highly admired companies in the world, including Coca-Cola, Toyota and Sony.
An interview with former Face Magazine art director Neville Brody who has been at the forefront of design for more than two decades.
Jessica Helfand discusses growing up in a family of collectors, her love of visual biography and why history should be more important to designers than it seems to be.
Designing Through the Recession
Here are three things that happen to designers in a recession, and five things they can do about it.
A Design-Oriented National Endowment for the Arts
A proposal for a design-oriented National Endowment for the Arts.
What I've Learned
After 35 years working for the same company, WGBH in Boston, legendary design director Chris Pullman reveals the ten things he learned.
Towards Relational Design
Is there any overarching philosophy or connective thread that joins so many of today’s most interesting and increasingly diverse designs from the fields of architecture, graphic, and product design? I believe we are in the a third major phase in modern design history, moving towards an era dominated by relationally-based design activities.
26 Years, 85 Notebooks
Since 1982, I have never been without a marble-covered composition book. I am now in the middle of Notebook #85. Together, these notebooks create a history of my working life that spans three decades.
Mad Men: Pitch Perfect
AMC’s ad agency drama Mad Men, from the producer of the Sopranos, is beginning its second season. Like The Sopranos, the show finds human drama in an unexpected setting. And where The Sopranos had whackings, Mad Men has client presentations.
We Are All Emerging Economies Now
I recently received an invitation to discuss design and development with a wonderful group of design peers in a beautiful location. But I have decided to decline the invitation. Why?
Credit Where Credit Is Due...Or Not
Dmitri Siegel explores the various practices of design attribution.
The Passion of George Lois
How adman George Lois chronicled the sixties with his cover designs for Esquire magazine, with a peek behind the scenes at the legendary famous Muhammad-Ali-as-St. Sebastian photoshoot.
Robynne Raye + Michael Straussberger
Robynne Raye and Michael Straussberger are graphic designers and co-founders of the acclaimed Seattle-based firm Modern Dog.
Michael Hodgson is a DJ and a designer and is co-founder of the design firm Ph.D.
The Cuckoo Bird and the Keyboard
Designers are famously nauseated by novices' use of neutral quotes — or dumb quoes — in place of true quotes. Why do we care so much? Should we?
Fail Again, Fail Better
So, what of productive failure with respect to graphic design and typography? The idea of failing again and again for a reason? Does it somehow help to define the limits of professional practice?
An interview with graphic designer, illustrator and Daily Monster creator Stefan Bucher.
Petrula Vrontikis is a graphic designer and educator at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.
The Smartest Logo in the Room
The birth, death, and debate around one of Paul Rand's last logos: the "crooked E" he created for Enron.
Legendary graphic designer Vaughan Oliver is also an artist and the author of several books, including Exhibition/Exposition and This Rimy River.
Book designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd is also the author of several books including The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners: A Novel.
Design Thinking, Muddled Thinking
What does it mean when Harvard Business School makes a list of top design schools? Two words: muddled thinking.
Modernism in the Fly-Over Zone
The story of Peter Seitz provides one example, and we can rest assured that there are many more stories just like his in cities across the country — modernism in the fly-over zone, if you will — which add a critical human dimension to design's rich cultural heritage.
How To Be Ugly
Whether reactionary spasm or irrevocable paradigm shift, the new trend is making design that looks ugly. The trick is to surround it with enough attitude so it will be properly perceived not as the product of everyday incompetence, but rather as evidence of one's attunement with the zeitgeist.
What If Uncle Sam Wanted You?
What if I decided to apply design thinking to the U.S. military? What roles could design thinking play in war? A recent The New York Times article, "Army Enlists Anthropologists in War Zone," makes these questions especially relevant today.
The Designer's Virus
Perhaps he was right and I was wrong? Perhaps it is dumb of me to believe that the only design worth bothering about is design born out of a mixture of personal enquiry and intelligent intuition? I realized I was suffering from the designer's disease: empathy.
May I Show You My Portfolio?
My art school portfolio has sat in a box, largely untouched, in the closets and basements of the three places I've lived in the last 27 years, sort of like a slowly decaying design time capsule. A few weeks ago, I opened it up for the first time in a long time.
You're So Intelligent
Wanting to be taken seriously, designers yearn to be respected for their minds. Yet they take their real gifts — a miraculous fluency with beauty, an ability to manipulate form in a way that can touch people's hearts — for granted.
Design for (Im)mobility: Interview with Domus
John Thackera defines and explains the importance of ethnoecology.
Martin Weber in the Third Dimension
You may not have heard of Martin J. Weber, but he was a graphic artist, typographer, art director, and most important, inventor of various photographic techniques that gave two-dimensional surfaces the illusion of being reproduced in three dimensions.
Bad Boys of Design IV
Designers Marc Alt, Mike Essl, Alberto Rigau and others.
Everything I Know About Design I Learned from The Sopranos
Last night, after eight years, 86 episodes, and untold quantities of gobbagool, The Sopranos finished its run on HBO. And this is what we've learned, from a design point of view.
Josh Liberson + Ethan Trask
Josh Liberson and Ethan Trask are designers and the founders of the firm Helicopter.
An interview with former Kate Spade Design Director Alan Dye who is currently Creative Director at Apple.
Al Gore for President
Writing as a designer, as a writer, as a husband and father, but most of all, as a human being I believe we should draft Al Gore to run for the Presidency of the United States.
Jan Wilker + Hjalti Karlsson
Jan Wilker and Hjalti Karlsson are partners in karlssonwilker and the authors of Tell Me Why.
British-born Alice Twemlow is a design critic and the author of What Is Graphic Design For? She also chairs the Design Criticism department at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Previously Design Director at I.D. Magazine, Brill’s Content,Travel + Leisure, and New York Magazine, Luke Hayman is now a partner in the New York office of Pentagram.
An interview with Janet Froelich, former Creative Director at The New York Times Magazine, who is currently Design Director at Real Simple.
An interview with American artist Barbara Kruger.
Our Little Secret
The documentary Helvetica premieres in a world where everyone knows how to do something that once only very few did: how to set type.
An interview with award-winning illustrator Luba Lukova, whose work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress and Bibliotheque Nationale in France.
An interview with the remarkable Maira Kalman — the closest thing we in the United States have to a National Treasure.
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, an interview with designer and filmmaker Jakob Trollback — who is also a DJ.
An interview with designer, artist and educator Andrea Deszo.
On this episode, Debbie Millman interviews Minda Gralnek, Executive Vice President for Creative Services at the Target Corporation.
Marty Neumeier is a brand consultant and the author of Brand Gap, Zag and The Brand Dictionary.
Master typographer Doyald Young is also the author of The Art of the Letter, Logotypes, and Letterforms: Handlettered Logotypes and Other Typographic Considerations.
Designers, Writers + Magazines
A conversation with Print’s Joyce Rutter Kaye; Dwell’s Michela Abrahms; Barbara DeWilde of House Beautiful and Laetitia Wolff of Surface.
The State of the Union Address is tonight. Messages, big ideas, careful details, second-guessing, refinements and revisions, anonymity: graphic design has a lot in common with political speechwriting. What kind of client do you suppose the President is?
Debbie Millman interviews Ze Frank — writer, designer and host of The Ze Frank Show.
The Graphic Glass Ceiling
A week ago, I was the moderator of a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y with Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd and Dave Eggers. Afterwards, someone asked, "Why do you — all three of you — suppose there are so few female graphic designers — or at least so few female 'superstar' graphic designers?" There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. What would your answer be?
This is My Process
Designers often describe our work processes in terms that are dated and ill-suited for the activities that we actually undertake. Is there a model for the way that artists work that would be intelligible in a business context?
The Road to Hell, Part Two: That Elusive Silver Bullet
An online offer to teach anyone to do graphic designer raises the ultimate question: can we conclusively prove the value of design to the general public? We can't? Now what?
I've heard endless definitions and descriptions of graphic design: I can recite them all, and on any given day I can identify with one essentialism over another: e.g., "Today, I'm a conceptualizer." I can even be swayed by the argument that, in fact, we work in a moment when graphic design is devolving as a practice identifiable by any common standards. It makes me think of a woman who I have always found completely annoying in her assuredness — Beatrice Warde.
A disussion with former MIT Media Lab Director John Maeda, who is currently the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design.
Steve Sikora, Thomas R. Wright + Charlie Lazor
Steve Sikora, Thomas R. Wright and Charlie Lazo discuss the finer points of pre-fab houses and modern design.
The Mysterious Power of Context
Some of the most effective graphic design is neutral and open ended, and acquires its effectiveness only through use and association. Is it possible to anticipate the power of context in design?
On this episode, Debbie Millman interviews Stanley Hainsworth, former Design Director at Starbucks and the founder of Tether in Seattle.
The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?
A new magazine from Business Week on design and innovation was created through an unpaid competition. If this is innovation, to hell with it.
Debbie Millman interviews Ann Willoughby, president and creative director of Willoughby Design Group, a brand, innovation and identity design firm she founded in 1978.
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman interviews William Lunderman, Vice President for Global Design at the Colgate-Palmolive Company.
Bad Boys of Design III
This group of Bad Boy designers are: Josh Chen, Manuel Toscano, Alan Dye and Layne Braunstein.
Brian Collins led the brand and innovation division of Ogilvy and Mather for nearly a decade, before founding his own firm — Collins — in 2007.
Ed Fella is an artist, graphic designer and educator whose work has had a critical influence on contemporary typography in the United States and in Europe.
Jessica Helfand + William Drenttel
Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel work in partnership at Winterhouse and are co-founders, with Michael Bierut and Rick Poynor, of Design Observer.
Steven Heller + Veronique Vienne
A conversation with writer Véronique Vienne, writer and prolific design historian Steven Heller.
When Design is a Matter of Life or Death
When structural engineer William LeMessurier realized that his work on Manhattan's Citicorp Center was flawed, he was faced with a choice: he could keep quiet and gamble with thousands of lives, or he could speak up. What would you do?
Peter Buchanan-Smith, founder of Buchanan-Smith LLC, is the author of Speck and The Wilco Book.
Artist, educator and writer Kenneth FitzGerald is currently Associate Professor of Art and Graduate Program Director in the art department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Grant McCracken is the author of Culture and Consumption I, Plenitude, Big Hair, Culture and Consumption II: Markets, Meaning and Brand Management, The Long Interview, Flock and Flow, and Transforming Selves.
The Persistence of the Exotic Menial
25 years ago, writer Ralph Caplan said that designers are exotic menials: exotic because of the presumed mystery inherent in what we do, and menial because whatever we do is required only for relatively low-level objectives. Has anything changed since then?
Carin Goldberg was a staff designer at CBS Records and Atlantic Records before establishing her own firm, Carin Goldberg Design, in 1982.
Hillman Curtis has designed motion graphic spots for clients such as MTV, Rolling Stone and Adobe and his innovative design solutions have garnered him numerous awards all over the world.
Graphic designer, illustrator and author Paul Sahre established his own design company in 1997. His office is part design studio and part silkscreen lab: he designs book covers and prints posters.
Bill Grant founded the Atlanta-based Grant Design Collaborative in 1996 and has worked with clients including Adobe Systems, Georgia-Pacific Papers and Steelcase, among many others.
Jonathan Hoefler + Tobias Frere-Jones
Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones are partners in their own eponymous type foundry where they developing and digitize original typefaces.
An interview with Ellen Lupton — writer, educator, designer and a Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Rick Valicenti, founder of the Chicago design firm Thirst and author of the book Emotion As Promotion, talks to Debbie Millman.
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks to Chip Kidd, award-winning book designer, musician and author.
Innovation is the New Black
Innovation is the latest buzzword to overtake the design profession. What does it mean?
"Can you make the type bigger?"
You May Already Be a Winner
Are graphic design competitions worthwhile?
An interview with Emily Oberman, formerly senior designer at M&Co and now partner, with Bonnie Siegler, in the New York design firm Number Seventeen.
Bad Boys of Design II
A new group of (very) bad boys: Rodrigo Corral, Marc English, Tan Le, Bennett Peji, Felix Sockwell and John Zapolski
Credit Line Goes Here
Design is essentially a collaborative enterprise. That makes assigning credit for the products of our work a complicated issue.
Paula Scher — arguably the most successful and influential woman working in design today — began her graphic design career as a record cover Art Director in the 1970s. She has been a Pentagram partner since 1991.
A candid and revealing discussion with design innovator Stefan Sagmeister, whose work has been hailed as “intense, cunning and evocative.”
Debbie Millman interviews Winterhouse Writing Award winner David Barringer, who discusses his new book and his views on the state of contemporary graphic design.
Design Blogs: The Good, the Bad and the Nasty
Rick Poynor, Armin Vit, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Jen Beckman, Adrian Hanft and Bennett Holzworth discuss the finer points of design blogging.
Sean Adams + Noreen Morioka
Los Angeles-based graphic designers Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka work with a range of clients including MTV, VH1, Sundance and Nickelodeon.
A discussion about branding, design and cultural anthropology with leading practitioners in each discipline.
Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. and worked for a decade at Vignelli Associates before joining Pentagram as a partner in 1990.
Debbie Millman interviews Steven Heller — art director, educator and the author of more than 100 books on design, design history and contemporary culture.
Bad Boys of Design
Designers Michael Ian Kaye, Mark Kingsley, Petter Ringbom, James Victore and Armin Vit.
Designing Under the Influence
The similarity of a young designer's work to that of the artist Barbara Kruger provides the starting point for a discussion of the role of influence in design, and whether it is possible for someone to "own" a specific style.
Cheryl Swanson, founder of Toniq, applies her background in anthropology and psychology to the visual task of branding.
The World in Two Footnotes
Writing in Eye Magazine, Nick Bell observes that designers too often act as "agents of neutrality" or "aesthetes of style" and suggests that they focus more on their work's content.
What is Design For? A Discussion
Rick Poynor and Michael Bierut discuss the purpose and promise of graphic design, in a conversation moderated by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne.
The Idealistic Corporation
American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.
Michael McDonough’s Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School
Architect Michael McDonough delineates the difference between educational theory and professional practice with “The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School.”
Graphic Design and the New Certainties
Graphic designers claim to want total freedom, but even in this intuitive, arbitrary, "creative" profession, many of us secretly crave limitations, standards, certainties. And certainties are a hard thing to come by these days.