The Observatory: Words, Pictures, Sounds
A few things on our minds
The Observatory: Epidemics and Theater
On this episode of The Observatory, Jessica and Michael talk about design, performance, and fear of Ebola.
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Fritz Karch on being a stylist for Martha Stewart, owning an antique shop, and what it means to be a collector.
On the eve of a historic vote for independence DO’s resident Scot explains his position
On Bias, Tolerance — and Taste
The unconscious mind responds with Darwinian brutality to anyone not “like us”.
The Art of Redaction
The Mysteries of France:
A Gothic Guidebook
Guide de la France mystérieuse, illustrated by Roman Cieslewicz, is a surreal beast of a travel book.
Tracks of My Tears
As Rose-Lynn Fisher’s photographs make clear, your tears are yours alone and each one is different.
An End of Things
Whirlwinds, Snowdrops, and Big Bangs: Vintage Fireworks Labels
Happy 4th of July!
Exhibition as Inquiry: An Interview with Kieran Long
Guns, shoes and cheap jeans: Kieran Long has added all of these to the Victoria & Albert Museum’s permanent collection.
Black, Red + Gold
A conversation about colonization and visual resistance in Australia.
Adam Harrison Levy attended Kill Screen’s Two5Six conference on video gaming. His intention, as someone who cares about visual culture, but knows nothing about gaming, was to see what he could divine from this emerging form.
The Falling Man: An Interview with Henry Singer
The Falling Man is a 90-minute documentary that tells the story of a controversial image. Who took it? Why was it censored? And who was the man in the photograph?
A Mother’s Work is Never Done
This year, for Mother's Day, Design Observer collected photos of women designers and their offspring in varying forms: we received entries in the form of then-and-now contemporary photos, of generational divides, of mothers as children (next to their children, as — no surprise —children) and even, because we're impatient and couldn't wait, one father and his lovely brood.
Critical Graphic Design: Critical of What?
A review of the current state of critical graphic design.
The Focused Obsession of Photographer Rob Amberg
Sandra Nuut on Fashion
The Public Library
Angela Riechers on Banks
Brigette Brown on Umbrellas
The Greenville, NC Daily Reflector: 1948 to 1967
Employee ID Badges
A deeper look into WWII era employee ID badges.
Blues, Baptisms, and Prison Farms: The Lomax Snapshots of 1934-1950
Blues, Baptisms, and Prison Farms: The Lomax Snapshots of 1934-1950
Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
Shoe Designs Before 1900
Having never really taken the time to look at ancient shoes (I have only three pair of shoes myself — black, brown and a pair running shoes), I was very impressed with the creativity and design of shoes from centuries ago.
The Private World of Martina Kubelk
Playing With Design: Fredun Shapur
Add Fredun Shapur to the pantheon of modern designers making winning and sculptural objects for children.
Native American Design
Martin Sharp: People, Politics and Pop
Martin Sharp rediscovered: drawings and collages from the book People, Politics and Pop: Australians in the Sixties.
For Better or Worse, This Design Endures
Owen Edwards on the enduring qualities of the AK-47.
Designer’s Cookbook: Jake Tilson
Only in the layered, interconnected culinary world of graphic designer, artist, cookbook author Jake Tilson could huevos rancheros eaten in Los Angeles inspire someone to cook Baid Masus, or Baghdad Special Eggs, a 13th-century Arab dish.
Year of the Women
Fairy Tale Architecture
A roundup of our holiday Fairy Tale Architecture posts.
Designer’s Cookbook: Louise Fili
Japanese Municipality Logos
A look at the forward-thinking, abstract logos that symbolize Japanese city municipalities.
Debbie Millman on Sleep
On this episode of Insights Per Minute Debbie Millman discusses sleep.
Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards
Our intrepid critics, Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, celebrate (and castigate) the best and worst architecture and design of 2013.
John Bertram on Silence
On this episode of Insights Per Minute, John Bertram contemplates silence.
Cheryl Heller on Words
Saul Leiter: Remembered
Saul Leiter taught himself to paint, but his father did not approve. These early abstract works, dating from the 1940s, show a remarkably confident use of line, color and composition.
Alexandra Lange on Performance
Collage Culture: Nostalgia and Critique
An interview with David Banash, author of Collage Culture: Readymades, Meaning, and the Age of Consumption.
Feeding Young Brains
AIGA Portland and The Right Brain Inititative have partnered on a new project to encourage kids to think creaively.
Where We Work
Enrique Allen on Introductions
On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Enrique Allen, co-director of the Designer Fund, gives advice on introductions.
Giraffe Houses of the Ozarks
The Open Eye: The Home Collection of Ray Yoshida
Sara Ivry on Language
On this episode of Insights Per Minute Sara Ivry comments on language.
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.
Learning New Tricks
Harvard doesn't have any design courses, but I've found new friends in "material culture." What it's like for a critic to go back to school.
Barkcloth Art of the Omie
Accidental Mysteries for September 22 focuses on art of the Ömie people of New Guinea — powerful, graphic works on barkcloth that they call nioge.
Marvin Heiferman on Photography
Wendy MacLeod on Fasting
On this episode of Insights Per Minute Wendy MacLeod considers food and fasting.
High Net Space: The New International Style
High Net Space: The New International Style
Ricky Jay on Collecting
Alice Twemlow on Home
On this installment of Insights Per Minute Alice Twemlow speaks about home.
Ralph Caplan on Titles
Signs of Labor
Collage Now, Part 1: Sergei Sviatchenko
In a crowded field, Sergei Sviatchenko’s highly reductive photo-collages look like his own and no one else’s.
Collage Now, Part 2: Cut and Paste Culture
Cut-and-paste culture is booming and collage-making is rampant: paper-based, digital, and all points between.
Folk Funeraria of the South
Accidental Mysteries for August 18th focuses on folk funeraria of the South.
Artist Nikcolay Lamm asked what Barie would look like as an average woman.
Guns and Design
Firearms are culturally significant objects and complex tools of meaning that can, perhaps, provide insight into the interconnection of people, objects, and society.
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.
The Mighty Shirt Kings
Back in the 1980s, a group of artists calling themselves The Mighty Shirt Kings set up shop at the Jamaica Coliseum, in Queens, offering “custom air-brushed and original artwork,” which could be had on canvas, but also pants, jackets, and of course T-shirts. They are the subject of a new book: The Shirt Kings.
Object Lessons is a new project that concerns itself with “the hidden lives of ordinary things.”
The Best Management Memo … Ever!
Owen Edwards on the most effective eight words he's ever read.
A Philatelist’s Dream
Preliminary sketches, production notes and overlays that tell the backstory of more than a century of Dutch postage stamps.
The Fork and the World: Design 101
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?
A Nod to Surrealism
Finding The Story
Anxiety, Culture and Commerce
Is the museum store a distraction or an enticement?
The Imagination of Playgrounds
How to Design an Iconic NY Fast Food Joint
Design secrets of New York fast food icons.
Flickr Collection of the Week: Curatimus Maximus
“Curatimus Maximus” is a beautifully curated group of imagery dedicated to color street photography.
Flickr Collection of the Week: Bladerunner Magazines
The world of Bladerunner showcases some of the most elaborate production design in film history, all the way down to its magazine covers.
My Month as a Mocker
A remembrance of London in the 1960s. Rockers rode motorcycles and Mods rode scooters.
SVA/BBC Design Film Festival
Overview of the second annual SVA/BBC Design Film Festival.
Flickr Collection of the Week: Signs of Pittsburgh
Bright cursive hope and rust-covered despair, sigils of titans and corner store shingles, the quick and the decaying done for, encomiums to vanished glory and the name of an immortal beer-and-a-shot bar.
After the Museum: The Tumblr
The Proper Art of Writing in 1655
Accidental Mysteries for March 03, 2013 focuses on the proper art of writing in 1655.
Flickr Collection of the Week: Manhole Covers
Sometimes the mundane is really beautiful, and that's especially true in this week's Flickr collection: Manhole Covers.
Dual Perspective Videos
Two videos that show two stories happening simultaneously in different places to different people.
Flickr Collection of the Week: Construtivist Posters
Ben Perry's Flickr photo collection showcases almost 1500 Soviet posters depicting propaganda, advertising, theatre and movies througout the 20th century.
Accidental Mysteries for February 17, 2013 focuses on the material culture of the Cold War.
A Campaign to Save The Post Office
Tucker Nichols is campaigning to save the Post Office.
Unorthodox suggestions and unsolicited advice for V-Day.
A closer look at the cryptic, compelling world of the mask.
Jen Bilik on being a certified entrepreneurial badass: she's the founder of the company Knock Knock.
Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City
Why Bernadette Fox Is Scary
The extraordinary magic of the ex-voto.
Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport
Michael Bierut on logo redesign outrages, what they mean, and why we should demand more.
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Jason Kottke talks about blogging for over fourteen years and what it means to be "old" online.
Peter Vogel's mysterious aging techniques are highly guarded, and for good reason.: as works of art, his handmade signs are nothing short of spectacular.
Why We Buy, Why We Brand
Rob Walker recommends Debbie Millman's talk "Why We Buy, Why We Brand".
Reintroducing the Tilletts
If you are interested in textile design, mid-century style, or creative partnerships, I would urge you to go visit “The World of D.D. and Leslie Tillett” at the Museum of the City of New York.
@Hungry_birds are real birds from Latvia typing on the keyboard made from fat.
3rd Annual Holiday Card Review
In the early days of science, poisons were usually kept in colored glass bottles that were various hues of dark amber or cobalt blue, as an immediate warning to read the label.
Change — the kind with monetary value — sheds new light on art made from altered objects.
Once you use time, it is gone forever. Maybe that’s why we spend so much time looking at clocks.
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.
Killing for Beautiful Objects
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun from Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen features 350 pages of projects, games, and information for kids aged 8-13, and their parents.
Having Fun at the Museum
The World’s Smashing-est Kids’ TV Show
A review of Karambolage, a kids’ television show produced by ARTE, a French-German arts and culture channel.
Minneapolis-based Thesis is a design collective whose efforts to raise awareness about health care reform has led them to creat the Amend wrist band.
Someone Else’s Shangri La
An exhibition of Doris Duke's Honolulu mansion, Shangri La, proves a “Spanish-Moorish-Persian-Indian complex” works as theater.
Accidental Mysteries is an online curiosity shop of extraordinary things, mined from the depths of the online world and brought to you each week by John Foster, a writer, designer and longtime collector of self-taught art and vernacular photography. This week's focus is Thoughtful Ephemera.
Critics Critical Criticism
Meta-criticism all over the blogosphere (but why only about books?)
Accidental Mysteries is an online curiosity shop of extraordinary things, mined from the depths of the online world and brought to you each week by John Foster, a writer, designer and longtime collector of self-taught art and vernacular photography. This week's focus is Occupational Photographs.
The Critical Olympics
What the best sports commentary does is just like criticism: it makes you care about the previously abstract.
Accidental Mysteries: 07.01.12
One of the most recognizable faces in American history is that of President Abraham Lincoln.
The Shape of Lunch
"Lunch Hour NYC," a new exhibition at the New York Public Library, defines the midday meal as an urban invention.
Accidental Mysteries: 06.24.12
Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities curated by John Foster, highlights images of design, art, architecture and ephemera brought to light by the magic of the digital age. This week's focus is Zippos from VietNam.
The Charismatic Megafauna of Design
Identifying the "charismatic megafauna" of design and the critical uses of their popularity.
Dress Your Family in Formica and Faux Bois
Dancing About Ruins
‘Deco Japan’ + Designing Women
Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities curated by John Foster, highlights images of design, art, architecture and ephemera brought to light by the magic of the digital age. This week's focus is vintage clothing labels.
Audrey Real Helfand: Designer Manquée
Motif Magazine: The World Made Visible
Want to Buy A Valentine?
You can buy a valentine handmade by someone else. You can send your beloved a vintage card using an app. But where's the romance in that?
A History Of The World In 100 Objects
Adam Harrison Levy reviews the book A History Of The World In 100 Objects.
Demythologizing Design: Another View of "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES"
David Stairs reviews "Design with other 90%:Cities"
The Infinite Warehouse of Images
The more photos we collectively produce, the more ruthless we need to be about bestowing our attention.
Report from a Japanese Maid Café
Globetrotting IDEO designer Elle Luna writes of her adventures among crazed anime addicts.
Did We Ever Stop Being Postmodern?
Should We Look at Corrosive Images?
What do violent photographs of war do to us as viewers?
Jan Svankmajer and the Graphic Uncanny
Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design opens at the Kunstal in Rotterdam on September 24.
Richard Hamilton, the Great Decipherer
My new blog collects the best arts & culture criticism, essays and reviews.
90 Years of Chinese Communism: A Multimedia Celebration
How the Chinese Communist Party designed its 90th anniversary commemorations
Funerary Portraits: Snapshots in Stone
The Politics of Desire and Looting
The part designers have played in the London riots.
From the Archive: Down with Innovation
Designers have too readily accepted the caricature of themselves as airheaded stylists. Visual form is a vital expression of culture.
Notes on Getting the Daily Newspaper
Michael Erard tells of the experience of sharing the physical newspaper with his son.
The Dictionary as Art Concept
The Look of Freedom
It was the American novelist William Faulkner who once observed that we must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. So who am I to take issue with more contemporary interpretations of commemorative form?
A Tattoo, A Toothbrush and A Pipe
Adam Harrison Levy writes three stories for Father's Day: about being a father, about father-hood and about his own father.
The vainglorious Mediocrity displayed by “artists” of every stripe.
Let’s Go! World’s Fairs of the 1930s
"Designing Tomorrow" at the National Building Museum showcases the optimisim, futurism and dreamy design ideas of the 1930s.
Lost Inside the Collector’s Cabinet
The Collector’s Cabinet at the Frederic Marès Museum in Barcelona is a mind-bending, sense-bedazzling palace of artifactual wonders.
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?
A Dream World Made by Machines
Vicarious Thrifting, via Twitter
On the lively, effective and erudite thrifting community on Twitter.
A Smooth Journey
Two images have preoccupied me in recent days.
The Royal Tweet
On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
John Heyer’s The Back of Beyond, made for Shell Australia in 1954, is one of the country’s finest films.
The Only Thing There’s Just Too Little Of
Starowieyski’s Graphic Universe of Excess
Meditations on the Middle Eastern incense burner.
Wim Crouwel: The Ghost in the Machine
An Unknown Master of Poster Design
Karel Teissig might just be the best poster designer you have never heard of.
Collapse of Civilization Tango
They say that the last days of Rome were culturally rich — and the same seems to be the case in our own times.
Slicing Open the Surrealist Eyeball
Surrealism codified a poetic principle that has always existed as a possibility and still exists in life and art.
Work Faster, India!
“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop. It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced during my stay that India's economy will grow by nine percent next year.
Africa: Where Events Are King
John Thackara interviews Mugendi M’Rithaa.
Architect Barbie: the world's most famous doll has a new career.
Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
Why has the dinner party become an endangered species of entertainment?
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Rob Walker discusses how our digital records remain online even after we die, and his desire to brand the idea of being “happy for what you have”.
Grandma’s Matchbook Collection
My grandma collected matches. She scooped them up on business trips from the 1940s through the 80s, while buying ladies’ dresswear for a department store in Louisville, Kentucky.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Hype
Bring In Da Ponk!
There is a reason that most Americans don't think of roasted millet as a dietary staple, and it may have something to do with the fact that extracting it requires actually thrashing the wheat stalk from which it hails.
How the Banks Want to Make China Sick — and Broke
My Big Fat Fast Food Feast at Eataly
A comparison of the vast differences of Italy's Eataly to New York's.
Ghosts in the Machine
Everyday we are busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff. What happens to this “stuff” when we die?
UnBox: Where Next for Design in India?
Lunch With The Critics: Year-End Awards
Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange pick the best and worse moments in design for 2010.
Everything has Become Science Fiction
Is science fiction's most crucial task to envision the future or to understand the present?
Rob Walker’s Collection of Bicentennial Quarters
Rob Walker shares his collection of bicentennial quarters.
The Would-be Words of 2010
Has Venice Cracked the Bottled Water Conundrum?
Italians are the leading consumers of bottled water in the world, the solution to the waste was to created a brand name for Venice’s tap water — Acqua Veritas.
Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048.
Where Is Art Now?
Leaving the art world to decide what art is doesn’t resolve the issue of quality.
Adam Lowe and Peter Greenaway at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City; Justin Partyka and Sir Terry Farrell at Eleven Spitalfields in London,
Pretty Pictures, Bad Judgment
If a picture's worth a thousand words, a publically broadcast picture is amplified, multiplied and cast out into a world where it can go anywhere.
My Marimekko Uniform
Minotaurs in Suburban England
English designer Vaughan Oliver met Adrian Shaughnessy to show him preliminary work on a deluxe Pixies box set called Minotaur.
Danzig Baldaev’s Prison House of Flesh
On My Shelf: Surrealism Permanent Revelation
This post is the first in an occasional series. The idea is to revisit a book from my bookshelf.
Laura Tarrish’s Collection of Miniature Chairs
Laura Tarrish shares her collection of miniature chairs.
The Library: A Museum
The library at North Carolina State University is laden with gold. Books that seem "rare" or simply too special for public shelving have been, in my mind, erroneously stacked and "dewey decimaled".
Not Queer, But Human
As a gay man and a designer, Andy Chen believes that part of the solution of homophobia lies in creating images that redefine the very way sexual orientation is understood and discussed.
In this podcast with Debbie Millman, Bill Moggridge discusses the future of the laptop, human-centered design and the future of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
A slideshow containing images from Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters 1985–2010, now on view at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
It’s the 16th Ed. of the Chicago Manual of Style and I Feel Fine
Michael Erard reviews the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.
The Wood Stacker
All his work, freed him from a dependency on oil. His heat is local.
If These Walls Could Talk
On the ABC sitcom Modern Family, three different families are visually defined by their living rooms.
I have seen the future of rock and roll, and it’s merch. Of course, band-branded merchandise has been a major part of the music business, big and small, for years.
There's a long grounding for the appreciation of zaftig beauty in painting and sculpture — from the baroque beauties of Peter Paul Rubens to the geometrically rotund figures of Fernando Botero. So why is it so difficult to talk about people who are really fat?
The Real Skinny on the Real Skinny
The is the first of two essays on the visual nature of body image.
In the Palm of Your Hand: Dexterity Puzzles
A selection of rare dexterity puzzles from the personal collection of Jessica Helfand.
Two Rupees Worth
Now that the dust has settled on India's launch of their rupee symbol we are starting to see its application beyond the initial fanfare.
Culture War Begins at Home
I got this polite but slightly alarming email in response to my Opinionator piece "Easier Living, By Design," on the influence of Mary and Russel Wright.
Viva The Villain: A Review of Despicable Me
In an age in which last week’s Bernie Madoff is next week’s BP oil spill, villains are no longer the stuff of fiction. So when a really juicy fictional villain comes along — let alone two — it’s time to go to the movies.
Bukhara: A Traveler’s Notes
Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of the legendary Silk Road. Presented here is a slideshow of design and architecture from one traveler's visit.
Where Have All the Windchimes Gone?
What is a beach rental coming to when the dishes are without fish?
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.
Rome’s MAXXI: Force Field as Field Space
The MAXXI center in Rome opens with a glorious, international exhibition and showcases a building that is likely to be as controversial — and as celebrated — as its designer.
The Subtle Technology of Indian Artisanship
How India's craftsmen offer lessons in design thinking.
Jugendstil: The Youth Style of Viennese Book Art
Turn-of-the-century Vienna was a magical, infectious brew. Viennese children’s book illustrations at the time were no exception.
The Maddening, Rewarding World of Design People
Most design people I know — don’t feel guilt over knowing what is priceless and what is junk. The film Please Give also thinks they know what it is worth.
Icon Review: Attila
At the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Attila, the applause starts before the curtain rises.
The Leisure of Looking: A Pedestrian View in a High-Speed Era
The current exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography comes from a huge private collection of vernacular group photographs.
Carolina On... (No, I Just Can't Do It)
Everything cool that has happened in Durham and environs has happened since I left.
Bent by the Sun
What a longtime American-born resident of Japan has learned about his adopted country's ancient practice of sustainability.
The Future of Snacks
I spent the last week in the Bay Area, and I can’t help but think that all trends related to kids and food start there.
"Five Houses Down"
Five Houses Down, a poem by Christian Wiman.
All Rubble Is Not Alike
I watched Manufactured Landscapes in the weeks before Christmas and it was just too depressing to post about in the run-up to gift day.
Left Me Speechless
Our work should not merely address the political injustices wrought by discriminatory laws: it should register the sense of loss inflicted on those who suffer them.
Love and Flatware
A scene from Sleepless In Seattle makes me wonder about the idea that shared taste = true love.
The scariest reading of the A&E reality show Hoarders, is that these freakish piles of stuff it documents simply reflect what plenty of us consume as a matter of course.
Notes on Being Born on Soil
At times you hear stories about patriots in exile who want their children to be born in the motherland and supplement by putting dirt from said place under a woman who is giving birth.
Chicago Welcomes You
On designing a resettlement process for Burmese immigrants in Chicago.
DWR = D/R?
Like D/R in the late 1970s, DWR is suffering from over-expansion, loss of specialness, and the lack of a leader with personal design vision.
Busted by Colombo, or, the Impediments of Style
The restrained high style of the ad men in Mad Men has revived a painful memory of one of my life-changing moments.
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF Menstruation Challenge
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Menstruation Challenge Project proposed an “eco-system” whereby sanitary pads became a linchpin for local economic growth, for educational programs about health and hygiene and for research into materials that could be adapted to other countries.
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF and Early Childhood Development
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Early Childhood Development Project proposed a new approach to emergency kits that would be more precisely tuned to young children’s intellectual and emotional needs, as well as outlined a basis for the next AIGA/INDEX: Aspen Design Challenge.
Metabolic Dark City
In 1993, the City of Darkness, or the Walled City of Kowloon was demolished. To the 35,000 people living in this dense urban slum, the change was the end of a lawless existence.
Why Does John Baeder Paint Diners?
John Baeder's goal for the past three decades has been to record on canvas and paper just about every diner and roadside eatery.
Aid worker Lindsay Stark's portrait of the ritual purification of a child soldier in Sierra Leone.
Gardens and Their Designers
When I loaded up my Budget truck and moved from New York to our nation’s capital, the last thing on, and the first thing off, was my plants.
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.
People in Glass Apartments
People in glass apartments shouldn’t throw stones or other projectiles. Nor should they engage in private acts directly in front of their floor to ceiling windows.
We Regret to Inform You That Love Will Not Save the Day
The big story on East 7th Street these days is the opening of Thom Mayne's new student center for Cooper Union, on Third Avenue.
The Plain Beauty of Well-Made Things
Lost In the Supermarket
Dmitri Siegel gets lost in the Supermarket and encounters incredibly grippy toothbushes, spouts, nozzles, Thorstein Veblen and Adolf Loos.
The Art of Psychographics
Each and every graphic design signifies a memory. A familiar sign, map or poster can often trigger a set of associations in the viewer, a series of thoughts and feelings that have their own unique trajectory.
Australians All Let Us Text
"New Anthems" art project by Inkahoots for Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia.
Teddy Blanks on Figurines
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. This story by Teddy Blanks is recorded as an MP3...
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).
Significant Objects: #1 Mom Hooks
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The third of five stories is by Rachel Berger...
Significant Objects: Porcelain Scooter
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The fourth of five stories is by Teddy Blanks...
Significant Objects: Elvis Chocolate Tin
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The fifth of five stories is by Jessica Helfand...
Significant Objects: Star of David Plate
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The first of five stories is by Adam Harrison Levy...
I found Floyd Bennett Field, the decomissioned 1930s airfield on the border of Brooklyn and Jamaica Bay, to be a very strange place.
On the Street in Tokyo
The major internal conflict I experienced on my recent trip to Japan was whether to explore the old-world: Zendos, philosopher's paths, Kabuki, tatami mats, visits to ancient spaces — or the new one: anime, arcades and bars that serve liquor while also selling puppies.
Cars R Us
Andrew Bush’s photographs, featured in his new book Drive, remind us just how intimate we have become with our cars.
I'm off to the Continent, which is a good excuse to dip into the family photo archive for a few reminders of a time when European travel was a bit more of a novelty.
In 1962, I spent hours listening to Mad magazine’s first LP (Big Top Records), Mad “Twists” Rock ‘N’ Roll. Owning the record made me feel like I was part of a club, which latter evolved into the sardonic, ironic sixties youth culture. It brings me back to a time before art, design, and humor had to be sophisticated to be good.
Susan Boyle and The Beauty of Crochet
I want to reflect here on Susan Boyle's massive appeal from a very personal point of view, for I have spent much of the last three years managing a project that harnesses the creative energies of hundreds of middle-aged female "nobodies": Crochet Reef Project
Land in Crisis: The Antelope Valley Story
Can the County of Los Angeles claim adverse possession, and rescind residents' rights to their own water? One plaintiff is fighting for the rights of landowners who are currently not pumping from the aquifer, and has mounted a class action suit in order to do so. She also believes that design can help solve the problem. Can it? What is at stake is the degree to which designers can lend their ingenuity to find a way to cut through this mess. And, in so doing, to help restore water to its rightful recipients.
What's The Story?
And what becomes of all those dead tweets, anyway — all those long-expired, evaporated updates?
Japanese Face Masks
You may recall seeing in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, scores of surgical face-mask-wearing passersby navigating their ways through the dense futuristic metropolis that is a cross between Tokyo and LA. So I was totally surprised to find on my first trip to Tokyo that not only is it the custom to wear such masks everywhere, it's big business too, with a nod to graphic design.
My Facebook, My Self
But as projections of ourselves, one's Facebook identity, made visible through one's photo albums, inhabits a public trajectory that goes way beyond who and what we are.
The Best of NY: Yours Truly
What I've always known is now established fact, as certified by the weekly record of this great city.
The baseball world is up-in-arms over the revelations that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid use a few years ago. My suggestion: move along, folks.
Complaint Dept. (Redux)
Most complaints in sixty seconds, a new world record. You've read the transcript. Now watch the video.
A Letter to the President
A letter to Barack Obama the day after his inauguration.
A Babylon of Signs
Billy Crystal is one of those guests talk show producers adore, and if you were watching Letterman last night you know why.
The complaint has always been my great metier, the form in which I am a non-pareil master. Last night I became an honest-to-goodness world record holder in my favored idiom.
We all must eat; we all must drink. Together, these form the two most basic requisites of our existence. The restaurant is the watering-hole, the center point, the necessity. And yet restaurants do not just serve dinner; if you read between the lines on the menu, you’ll find they offer dinner, and a show.
Practice Does Not Make Perfect
The J-E-T-S spent $75 million this year on a state-of-the-art new training facility designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but they may still miss the playoffs.
A Horrible Machine
Check out my essay on the classic scout song "Dunderbeck" in the latest issue (no. 6) of the always gnaw-worthy Meatpaper.
Way back in 1965, as a fifteen years old, I was an early EVOtee. I had stumbled upon one of the first issues at a newsstand. The cover, which I remember vividly, had a photo collage of a serpent emerging from battle fatigues worn by America's commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland. Haunting is not a strong enough word to describe the impact that this had on a teen just a year or two out of Valley Forge Military Academy, where, surprisingly, I had learned about the military impossibility of winning the war.
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.
Design by Numbers
Dmitri Siegel discusses Stephen Baker's new book The Numerati and how data-mining and personalized content may impact design.
The Posters of Padua
In the sixteenth century the University of Padua initiated a custom that has prevailed to the present day — a custom which boasts, as it turns out, a very prominent design component.
The Inventor of the Cowboy Shirt
A few years ago, I found myself lost inside a shopping mall with Jack A. Weil, better known as Jack A, the man who, in 1946, invented the snap-buttoned cowboy shirt.
Second in a Series: Completions
The series, when shown on a single surface, carries with it a kind of implicit satisfaction that a series disseminated over time does not.
David Foster Wallace, Branding Theorist, 1962-2008
Nearly a decade into a new century, I believe it is unacceptable for a design organization, foundation, board of directors, magazine or other enterprise, to mount an initiative with an all male panel of judges. Such behavior is no longer acceptable and should not be tolerated by a community of designers (or any other community).
Remembering Yves St. Laurent
So what can we learn from the presence of fashion within design, and of design within fashion? For example, and more precisely, what can we learn from the work of Yves St. Laurent, the iconic French fashion designer who passed away this Summer?
The verbal and visual puns of porta-a-potties are copious throughout this indispensable industry. Manufacturers and suppliers go to great lengths to make the portable toilet experience clean and sanitary, as well as warm and cute. Portable toiletry is only second after hair salons (i.e. Mane Street, Clip Joint, Hair Today, etc.) for warm and cute, albeit excruciating, pun names. And yet this is a dirty job, so why shouldn’t those who attend to our bodily hygiene have the opportunity to practice a little wit and double entendre?
First In A Series: Cartophily
Mostly unified by their one-to-two format, cigarette cards revealed countless variation in topic and scope, style and personality, seriousness of purpose and goofball whimsy. If the ardent collector defines the amalgamation of disparate items by retaining a fundamental organizing principle, then what is it, exactly, that guides the maker? And enthralls the viewer?
Collections of Nothing
Annals of Ephemera, Part III: Aging 2.0
Paper has a finite life span. It yellows and oxidizes and eventually disintegrates. But today, there are a host of specialty materials that protect and preserve paper so that, unlikely as it may seem, ephemeral materials may have found their very own fountain of youth.
The onset of the digital revolution has made the period for using film finite. Processed prints are becoming obsolete. With the immediate option of discarding an unintended image, a rich library of our unselfconscious selves will no longer be recorded. But it lives here, in these beautiful, poetic and tactile objects.
Steampunk'd, Or Humbug by Design
In this time of cultural recycling, Humbug is a word perhaps best used to describe Steampunk, a subculture supposedly born out of a mash-up of DIY (do-it-yourself), Victoriana, punk, science fiction, Japanese anime and the urge to re-skin one’s computer as 19th century bric-a-brac. If the number of recent articles in the mainstream press is any reliable barometer, Steampunk is the next big thing.
Reflections on the Ephemeral World, Part Two: Food
Ever since the 16th century Italian Mannerist painter Archimboldo made portraits from the detritus of his dinner, the relationship between the visual and the edible has been something of a puzzle. Welcome to the world of foodistry: design with food.
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?
Over the Rainbow
June marks the start of a month-long series of LGBT Pride celebrations in cities around the United States and the world, as well as the 30th anniversary of the rainbow flag — the de facto symbol of the LGBT community. While the visual and media focus of the celebrations have been the parades, the most enduring element is perhaps the rainbow.
Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.
Iron Man: The Screen Behind the Screen
Iron Man is the fulfillment of all the computer-integrated movies were ever meant to be, and by computer-integrated, I mean just that: beyond the technical wizardry of special effects, this is a film in which the computer is incorporated, like a cast member, into the development of the plot itself.
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.
The Magic of the Peace Symbol
There was probably no more galvanizing nor polarizing emblem during the 1960s than the peace symbol. And perhaps few symbols have had origins surrounded in as much mystery and controversy
Viewer Discretion Advised
One of the great ironies of contemporary culture is the degree to which pro-forma warnings read as largely invisible. “Viewer Discretion Advised” tells us we’ve been warned...
From MySpace to Fake Space
Traveling without moving has become an economic and environmental imperative. Matter is more expensive than energy; energy than information; it is cheaper to move information, than people or things. So what is to stop us moving less and and telecommunicating more?
Marc Rabinowitz: Prostitution Facts
In spite of the tawdry glamour of "high-priced call girls," let's remember that this supposedly victimless crime takes a vast human toll that goes far beyond the embarrassment of powerful men. Marc Rabinowitz’s project invites us to imagine prostitution’s stark statistics...
Lost America: The Flamingo Motor Hotel
I found this old photo in a box at the back of my attic. It shows a motel in Flagstaff, Arizona where I stayed for a couple of nights in May 1978. I was 20, it was my first visit to the US, and for three weeks I had been touring around on Greyhound buses.
Gone, Baby, Gone (Things, Part II)
From July 19, 1977 to February 28, 1981, the security staff at New York's Roosevelt Raceway kept a fastidious record of lost property. The result — 152 pages of wayward mittens, misplaced wallets and hundreds of personal items — is as much a record of the social history of a generation as anything I've come across in a long time.
Imitation of Life
Spend enough time looking at design and new-product Web sites and it’s easy to spot recurring themes. One of the most interesting is things that look like other things.
Is Apple Soft on Crime?
Here's the real question: could a climbing crime rate and the rise of the iPod be related? Has the iPod's design increased its likelihood of theft, and if so, what role could Apple's designers play in developing solutions?
The Most Hated Holiday Song in the World
Ten years ago, Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid attempted to create the most irritating song in the world. It's now available online, and it's perfect for the holidays!
Designers and Dilettantes
Dmitri Siegel discusses graphic design authorship and the impending release of Elliott Earls' new film, The Sarany Motel.
Where food is concerned, the relationship between what things look like and how we respond exists at its most primal level: what is a gut reaction, after all, if not something that attacks your gut?
On the Squareness of Milk Containers
Do you know, or have you ever wanted to know, why milk containers are square and soft drink containers are round? This and other questions of design are answered in Robert Frank's new book The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas.
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.
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.
My Dirty Little Secret
Gardening is its own infuriating design challenge. You fret and you rethink and you second-guess yourself constantly, and then for one delirious, thrilling moment something blooms and you feel utterly triumphant. And then it dies and you are back where you started.
Ad Reinhardt, Graphic Designer
Ad Reinhardt fretted about the meaning of life. He agonized about the purpose of painting. He questioned everyone, critiqued everything, and worked incessantly. In other words, he was a graphic designer.
The New Manifest Destiny
When does a picture solidify a news story, and when does it merely sensationalize it? Decisions about words and pictures are made by editors and publishers, designers and photographers but they are consumed by a public fully capable of an entire range of emotional responses. After this week's events at Virginia Tech, words and pictures do a poor job of communicating outrage and pain. And no amount of compositional ingenuity can reverse what happened.
In Search of Stock(y) Photography
That's right: in the alternate universe of stock photography, attactive people outnumber fat people 84 to one. As a culture, have we taken the idea of "overweight" and completely blocked it out?
Annals of Ephemera: Town & Country Cookbook
Book cover designers are visual choreographers who frame miniature narratives in order to tease prospective readers into wanting more. Which often means showing less. Or not.
Art Director Ken
Art Director Ken is is a charmed, if mildly cautionary tale, for it brings to mind the potentially superficial nature in which we judge a person, an identity indeed, an entire profession.
That (Other) 1970's: The Last King of Scotland
The Last King of Scotland, Kevin McDonald's film about Idi Amin's notorious presidency, opened in Uganda to great fanfare. The VIP screening took place at Kampala's Cineplex, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Forest Whitaker in attendance. The premiere was not targeted to the average Ugandan...
The Illusion of Certainty
Artist Allan McCollum aspires to an unprecedented scale with this "Shapes" project: his goal is to make enough shapes, assuming a population of approximately 9.1 billion by the year 2050, so that everyone on the planet can have one. Shapes aside, what's truly fascinating is the idea of the system: what is it about them that we hate to love and love to hate?
I'm Not Ready to Make Nice
"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"
The current issue of Creative Review is "guest edited" by hip British advertising agency Mother. The theme, suggested by Mother, is I Sold My Soul And I Love It a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication."
The Karaoke Effect
The lure of American Idol, in these early weeks, lies in precisely this shaky space: that illusory bubble populated by thousands of fame-seekers who fervently believe in their own righteous, if highly fictional talent. It's cultural fallout. Just as the karaoke singer imagines him or herself live and in concert before the screaming fans, so, too, does the illusion persist once the microphone is turned off.
The It Factor
In their 1983 book Quintessence: The Quality of Having It, Owen Edwards and Betty Cornfeld created an elegant and influential treatise in what makes something the real thing, a lesson that Steve Jobs has obviously absorbed.
Global Place — Or is it a Hat?
We must view the world with a new slant and take advantage of a huge design opportunity to create sustainable structures for the future.
War Is Over! If You Want It
When the star of the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is asked by a reporter what he thinks Nixon should do to end the Vietnam War, Lennon stares incredulously into the camera. "He should declare peace." As if this was the most obvious solution in the world.
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.
In 1967, just after my tenth birthday, we moved from a cramped 1940s bungalow in an older Cleveland suburb to up-and-coming Parma, Ohio. I had been walking the earth for a full decade, but that fall I felt I was finally assuming my birthright as an American: a brand new house.
Into the Pink
Co-opting a color and making it your own.
The G Word
Google has launched an effort to keep people from using their name as an all-purpose verb. Don't want to be evil? Then don't act as if you can win if you constrain the creative productivity of language.
My Cup Holder Runneth Over
When we're not hiding behind our nail-technician-primed hands, drinking our barrista-blended beverages, IMing, text-messaging, and push-button withdrawing more money from the ATM to pay for all of these things, who are we?
The Golden Age of American Commercialism
The encroachment of commercialism into everyday life seems like a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Yet around one hundred years ago, America began a romance with salesmanship that today seems almost delirious. A 1922 business directory shows how great crass commercialism used to look.
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?
What Ever Happened to Half.com, Oregon?
But back in 1999, in its Netflix-like heyday, Half.com was hot. And it did something quite remarkable. As a publicity stunt, it bought a town and renamed it. Someplace in Oregon. I wondered what ever happened to Half.com, Oregon — the first dot com city in the world?
The Ovalization of The American Mind
Ovals — emancipated from circular restriction, freed of rectangular rigidity — are a perfect metaphor for the way we live now. They're out of shape and flabby, non-committal and generic — like sensible shoes, practical and monotonous and dull.
World 6.0: Same as the Old World?
Edward Castronova's recent book Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games sheds some light on the increasingly tangled relationship between MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) and the game of life.
A Good Pan Is Hard To Find
On baking a cheesecake and becoming a better designer: it's one big balancing act of artistry and skill.
The Global Curse of Comic Sans
In this coastal region slung just below the Pyrenees, one might expect to see evidence of the enduring cultural tensions between Spain and Catalonia — different kinds of signs or symbols, for instance â€" but on the surface at least, no such rift is exposed. Instead, Catalonia clings to a visual language that celebrates the goofy: this is a country awash in Comic Sans.
The Right Stuff
Prada is yet another in a long line of stories in which posessions loom large, at once shining beacons of material success and wagging fingers of moral turpitude. When will we have enough stuff?
Koppel to Cooper: Cool, Cooler, Cold
Hey, maybe that's the ticket for McSweeney's: Put some bigtime sexy celebrity on the cover, somebody huge and charismatic and irresistible, somebody like, you know...Ted Koppel! What then to make of this month's cover of Vanity Fair? The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the studmuffin du mois, may be an occasion for some serious concern.
"Oui, Oui, Oui" All The Way Home
On a sweltering day last August, my daughter and I embarked with a friend on a 6-day tour of Paris: Kid Paris, the Paris of candy stores and carousels and more than a few weird new ice cream flavors.
Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism
The Photography of Mark Robbins
Mark Robbins' Households is a collection of portraits in which the sitters are sometimes sitting rooms (or kitchens or bedrooms), and the people are polished, draped, and arrayed like furniture. Composed to resemble architectural plans or elevations — or in some cases the triptychs of medieval altarpieces — the images represent home dwellers and their environments. Flesh, bone, brick, stone, contoured torsos, and varnished chairs assume equal status. The message is simple: You may not be what you eat, but you most certainly are where you live.
Why Scientology is Good for Hollywood
If you live where I do, in the actual city of Hollywood, just a few blocks away from where the Oscars are held, you see the Church of Scientology as somewhat of a savior. Within a two-mile corridor along Hollywood Boulevard, the Church owns eight historic buildings, four of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. In a neighborhood where architectural triumphs evaporate with little remorse, Scientology is the most ardent preservationist force in town.
Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind
Door hangers seem the perfect metaphor for FEMA's failure: they're one-dimensional, unnecessarily complicated, and basically useless.
The Art of Thinking Through Making
The Propensity for Density
It's like design's been on a diet and finally gets to eat that giant cheesecake: shifting notches on the belt buckle, we're so happy for the sugar high that we don't realize we're slipping. And slipping we are.
A Sequence in Time
01:02:03 04/05/06 This number sequence in time will not occur again until 2106.
"The long, languid spread of her body makes the first and most lasting impression." And more on these sorts of landscape-bodyscape slippages by this seasoned The New Yorker writer, and recent author of Everything That Rises : A Book of Convergences.
Broadcast vs. Broadband
Viral video is on the rise, spreading from broadband to broadcast and back again. What are the opportunities for designers in this new genre?
Give Me Privacy or Give Me an ID Card
The proposed National ID Card further blurs the line between the privacy and full disclosure of personal data in the public domain. It's the Card's design that appears the final string that may either secure our rights as individuals or rip them apart.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Design History
At the end of the day, being a design historian means being observant and fearless, stubborn and driven, principled, passionate and anything but lazy. It means going where you have to go to get what you need.
Freedom of Speech or Filching of Style? The New Law of Eminent Lo-Mein
DIY design invading typography terrain: culture-jamming in the domains of freedom of speech, pharmaceutics, and pop-culture.
The D Word
HGTV's sunny splendor of twenty-seven minute remodels and inexhaustible inspiration: fodder for the DIY devotee.
Robert Brownjohn and The Big Idea
Civilian Typography: The Power and The Fury
Without a cell phone, or in a flood, or barred from public transportation, the thing that separates human beings from the animal kingdom is our ability to communicate verbally. If we can't do that, we do it graphically. When all else fails, the pen isn't just mightier than the sword: it is the sword.
Red Bogart blamed technology and changing attitudes for the reason he sold Camp Tomahawk, but Mark Lamster knew there was something more to the story.
Charles Dickens and The BBC
Who would have guessed that a BBC costume drama would provide us with Exhibit-A in the defense's case — that a mass audience can be engaged without pandering to base instincts?
Facial transplants mapping our future: how much is the world of design responsible?
In his classic story of Wall Street, Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville recounts the tale of a humble copyist employed by the story's narrator. Could Bartleby's perfectly crafted refrain be the appropriate response to a world where every choice and configuration has been designed?
The Shock Of The Old: Rethinking Nostalgia
Placing Nostalgia: where in the design landscape does it fit? And should it be included in the first place?
Married with Tchotchkes
For many design-obsessed couples registering at Moss requires more strategy than playing the stock market.
On Citizenship and Humanity: An Appeal for Design Reform
Ruminations on the Citizen Designer: A human first, a designer second, but most importantly, one who responds to collective cultural needs.
Eye of the Storm
A re-entrance into the world: Following Hurricane Katrina, how should design continue?
Sublime Little Tubes of Destruction
In a culture otherwise swamped with unregulated branding, the graphic counter-attack on the cigarette packet, on its visual integrity as a design and its brand equity, normally regarded as commercially sacrosanct, is a remarkable sight to behold. In Europe, in the US and around the world, outsized health warnings in ugly typography now disfigure and subvert the best efforts of the brands' designers to embody the fast-fading allure of the cigarette.
A Mosaic of Vision and Memory
Language, in the service of the visual, is a conceptual catalyst: and in Umberto Eco's latest book, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, words meet pictures in a captivating and indeed, an astonishing way.
Why Bugs Don't Belong on TV
On today's TV screens, the station-identification logo sits tethered to the surface, like an annoying rash that won't quite disappear. You think you've kicked it when WHAMMMO there it is again, blemishing the patina of an otherwise perfectly good viewing experience.
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon + Jake Gorst
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon and Jake Gorst talk about Gorst's new documentary Leisurama.
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.
In Memoriam: My Manual Typewriter
The fully evolved typewriter is a 20th-century industrial archetype. It feels inevitable, almost elemental, like one of those object types, such as a chair or a fork, that simply had to exist in this universe of forms.
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."
But Darling of Course it’s Normal: The Post-Punk Record Sleeve
There have been collections of post-punk music and now, finally, there is British music critic Simon Reynolds' 500-page history of the genre from 1978 to 1984. It's a brilliant book. He argues that post-punk music's explosion of creativity equals the golden age of popular music in the mid-1960s, but that it has never received its full due. I think he's right.
Eduardo Paolozzi, 20th Century Image-Maker
If a visual artist created more concentrated, exhilarating images of science, technology and the media realm during the mid-20th century than British artist Eduardo Paolozzi, then I would like to see them. Paolozzi, who died on 22 April aged 81, was first of all a sculptor, but the screenprints he produced in the 1960s rank as masterpieces of the medium.
Extremely Young and Incredibly Everywhere: The Public Art of Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer's emergent body of work includes film and video, public art installations, theatrical collaboration, expressive typography, and a fairly prolific jumpstart as a writer. Cumulatively, all of his projects — which range from collecting empty pages of famous writers, to constructing parabolas in a public park, to collecting anonymous self-portraits — seem to look for ways to formally address time and space and the human condition.
Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot
Dot Dot Dot is the most stimulating and original visual culture magazine produced by designers since Emigre's heyday in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
Grant McCracken, Part 2
Grant McCracken PhD, author and a research affiliate at MIT.
Scrapbooking: The New Paste-Up
"Craft-born embellishments," note one supplier of scrapbooking products, "are penetrating an unexpected market: graphic design."
Grant McCracken, Part 1
Grant McCracken PhD, is an author and a research affiliate at MIT.
The Aural As An Architectonic Challenge
What are the people over at Transom.org up to? As it happens, this month is a very good time to pay them a visit: for the next several weeks, Walter Murch the phenomenally smart and inspired film and sound editor will be continuing to hold court there.
Our Bodies, Our Fonts
Body markings piercings, tattoos and so forth have recently evolved into a kind of marginalized form of graphic expression, yet one that sheds an unusual light on some of the more mainstream ways in which design often reveals itself.
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.
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.
Rise and Fall of Rock and Roll Graphic Design
Has heavy metal graphic design run its course? Is the band logo as a species dead? And is there much of a future for the graphic representation of popular music itself?
The Ikea Riot: Unsatisfied Excess?
When Ikea threw open the doors of a new store in London, the result was mayhem as customers stampeded. Evidence of social breakdown, or a sign that the utopian argument for low-cost modernist design has been won?
Modernising MoMA: Design on Display
MoMA is broadening its approach to graphic design. Recovering this material history will assist us in understanding our broader cultural history and help to educate a more aware generation of visual communicators.
It's a Man's World
Adam Parfrey’s book shows hundreds of men’s magazine covers from the 1950s painted by artists who specialized in depictions of tough guys abusing terrified women. Have we outgrown this kind of thing? Heck no.