Debbie Millman
Design Matters from the Archive: Isaac Mizrahi
Steven Heller
Mad Music

Back to a time before art, design, and humor had to be sophisticated to be good.

Jessica Helfand
The Karaoke Effect

The illusory bubble populated by thousands of fame-seekers who fervently believe in their own righteous, if highly fictional talent.

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Mind-Body Problems

Nutrition Facts, Mark Bittman’s food rating system, colon cancer screening, Time Well Spent, Peter Arno, Flat File

Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Good, the Flat, and the Ugly

Instagram, rainbows, digital brutalism, Design: The Invention of Desire, the Freewrite.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Innovation in banality
Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
High Maintenance

Innovators and maintainers, Bernie and Hillary, mapping and infrastructure, algorithms and Rembrandt

John Foster
Play Ball!

A Graphic Designer Taps Into America’s Pastime

Steven Heller
The D Word: Close Shave

Looking sharp 

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Crowd Control

Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds

Debbie Millman
Kate Bolick
Timothy Young
Dispatch from La Lagunilla

Where old design treasures are the new new

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Working-Class Heroes

British art schools, Bowie, Alan Rickman, the State of the Union, cannabis chocolate

Steven Heller
The D Word: Titling Type

Earnest amateurs and DIY type

Adam Harrison Levy
Designer’s Cookbook: Louise Fili
Adam Harrison Levy

The lost (and found) art of the typewriter

Steven Heller
The D Word: Pick a Card
Véronique Vienne
Cafés and Cigarettes

Terror and the terrace

John Foster
Artful Letters

Envelopes from the golden age of correspondence

Rachel Berger
Designing in the NOW Part I

The Sea of Sameness

Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Brute Force

Behind the Bataclan, pigeon pathologists, Design Thinking at IBM, the Coke bottle at 100, Michael Gross

Steven Heller
American Reich

The Triumph of Graphic Design

John Foster
As Above, So Below

Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850–1930

Paul Gansky
Jurassic Hacking

Shoot-outs and talking telephones

John Foster
Flower Power

The Hibiscus Scrapbook

Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Words, Pictures, Sounds
Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Epidemics and Theater

On this episode of The Observatory, Jessica and Michael talk about design, performance, and fear of Ebola. 

Debbie Millman
Fritz Karch

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.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Identity Politics

On the eve of a historic vote for independence DO’s resident Scot explains his position

Adrian Shaughnessy
On Bias, Tolerance — and Taste
Rob Walker
The Art of Redaction

A batch of visually "redacted" photos, courtesy of the FBI.

Rick Poynor
The Mysteries of France:
A Gothic Guidebook
Adam Harrison Levy
Tracks of My Tears

As Rose-Lynn Fisher’s photographs make clear, your tears are yours alone and each one is different.

Rob Walker
An End of Things

The life of a thing, the death of an object — and maybe a new life to follow? At Liberty Auction in Pembroke, Georgia.

John Foster
Whirlwinds, Snowdrops, and Big Bangs: Vintage Fireworks Labels

Happy 4th of July!

Jennifer Kabat
Exhibition as Inquiry: An Interview with Kieran Long
Black, Red + Gold

A conversation about colonization and visual resistance in Australia.

Adam Harrison Levy
Geek Stories

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. 

Adam Harrison Levy
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?

The Editors
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.

Francisco Laranjo
Critical Graphic Design: Critical of What?
John Foster
The Focused Obsession of Photographer Rob Amberg
Sandra Nuut
Sandra Nuut on Fashion
David Morris
The Public Library

“The public library is a singularly American invention.” An excerpt from the new book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.

Jessica Helfand
Fast Thinking

Is this a slapstick fall captured as a slow-motion sideshow? Or an example of how accelerated exposure times tell a different story?

Angela Riechers
Angela Riechers on Banks
Brigette Brown
Brigette Brown on Umbrellas
John Foster
The Greenville, NC Daily Reflector: 1948 to 1967

One of the best ways to investigate the life and times of a region is to look at the local photo files from the daily newspaper.

Debbie Millman
Jonathan Harris
Employee ID Badges

A deeper look into WWII era employee ID badges.

John Foster
Blues, Baptisms, and Prison Farms: The Lomax Snapshots of 1934-1950

Blues, Baptisms, and Prison Farms: The Lomax Snapshots of 1934-1950

Alexandra Lange
Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories

A photographic tour of Mexico City, house by house, wall by wall.

John Foster
Shoe Designs Before 1900
Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition

The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.

John Foster
The Private World of Martina Kubelk

A photo album containing 99 pages and over 380 photographs; self-portraits of a man in women’s clothes.

Alexandra Lange
Playing With Design: Fredun Shapur
John Foster
Native American Design

The National Museum of the American Indian has one of the most extensive collections of Native American art and artifacts in the United States.  

Rick Poynor
Martin Sharp: People, Politics and Pop
Owen Edwards
For Better or Worse, This Design Endures

Owen Edwards on the enduring qualities of the AK-47.

Adam Harrison Levy
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.

Alexandra Lange
Year of the Women

A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.

Fairy Tale Architecture

A roundup of our holiday Fairy Tale Architecture posts.

John Foster
Japanese Municipality Logos

A look at the forward-thinking, abstract logos that symbolize Japanese city municipalities.

Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman on Sleep

On this episode of Insights Per Minute Debbie Millman discusses sleep.

Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards
John Bertram
John Bertram on Silence
Cheryl Heller
Cheryl Heller on Words

On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Cheryl Heller discusses valuable words.

Adam Harrison Levy
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
Alexandra Lange on Performance
Rick Poynor
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.

Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
Enrique Allen
Enrique Allen on Introductions

On this episode of Insights Per Minute, Enrique Allen, co-director of the Designer Fund, gives advice on introductions.

John Foster
Giraffe Houses of the Ozarks

Giraffe houses are generally thought to have first appeared around 1910, but their acceptance grew during the 1930s.

John Foster
The Open Eye: The Home Collection of Ray Yoshida
Sara Ivry
Sara Ivry on Language
Stephen Eskilson
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.

Alexandra Lange
Learning New Tricks
John Foster
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
Marvin Heiferman on Photography
Wendy MacLeod
Wendy MacLeod on Fasting
Mark Lamster
High Net Space: The New International Style

High Net Space: The New International Style

Ricky Jay
Ricky Jay on Collecting

In this installment of Insights Per Minute Ricky Jay speaks on collecting.

Alice Twemlow
Alice Twemlow on Home

On this installment of Insights Per Minute Alice Twemlow speaks about home.

Ralph Caplan
Ralph Caplan on Titles
John Foster
Signs of Labor

In honor of this week’s national celebration of Labor Day, a selection of images that personify the hard work and dedication of the American worker.

Rick Poynor
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.

Rick Poynor
Collage Now, Part 2: Cut and Paste Culture
John Foster
Folk Funeraria of the South

Accidental Mysteries for August 18th focuses on folk funeraria of the South.

Barbie, Revisited

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.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Upgrade Yourself!
Rob Walker
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.

Rob Walker
Object Lessons

Object Lessons is a new project that concerns itself with “the hidden lives of ordinary things.”

Owen Edwards
The Best Management Memo … Ever!
John Foster
A Philatelist’s Dream

Preliminary sketches, production notes and overlays that tell the backstory of more than a century of Dutch postage stamps.

Alexandra Lange
The Fork and the World: Design 101
John Foster
A Nod to Surrealism

For artists not working in digital media — those who cut, build, draw, paint, glue, bend, and make things in the more traditional manner, there is something of a “Surrealist” popularity at hand today.

Rob Walker
Finding The Story

Emily Spivack's exhibition of unexpectedly interesting stories from eBay.

Alexandra Lange
Anxiety, Culture and Commerce

Is the museum store a distraction or an enticement?

John Foster
The Imagination of Playgrounds
Mark Lamster
How to Design an Iconic NY Fast Food Joint
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.

Owen Edwards
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.

Alexandra Lange
After the Museum: The Tumblr

To create, a multi-museum, multi-curator Tumblr @MADMuseum, I saw it as a kind of curatorial game: Show Me What You’ve Got.

John Foster
The Proper Art of Writing in 1655
Dual Perspective Videos

Two videos that show two stories happening simultaneously in different places to different people.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
A Campaign to Save The Post Office

Tucker Nichols is campaigning to save the Post Office.


Unorthodox suggestions and unsolicited advice for V-Day.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries

A closer look at the cryptic, compelling world of the mask.

Debbie Millman
Jen Bilik

Jen Bilik on being a certified entrepreneurial badass: she's the founder of the company Knock Knock.

John Thackara
Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City

Dehli's many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs. How can that be traslated to European cities?

Alexandra Lange
Why Bernadette Fox Is Scary

The heroine of Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an award-winning female architect. Don’t envy her life.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Michael Bierut
Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport
Debbie Millman
Jason Kottke

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Jason Kottke talks about blogging for over fourteen years and what it means to be "old" online.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Rob Walker
Why We Buy, Why We Brand

Rob Walker recommends Debbie Millman's talk "Why We Buy, Why We Brand".

Alexandra Lange
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.

Tweeting Birds

@Hungry_birds are real birds from Latvia typing on the keyboard made from fat.
Alexandra Lange
3rd Annual Holiday Card Review
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries

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. 

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries

Once you use time, it is gone forever. Maybe that’s why we spend so much time looking at clocks.  

Debbie Millman
Chris Ware

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.

Rob Walker
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.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
Jude Stewart
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.

Alexandra Lange
Someone Else’s Shangri La
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries

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 taxonomies.

Alexandra Lange
Critics Critical Criticism

Meta-criticism all over the blogosphere (but why only about books?)

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries

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.

Alexandra Lange
The Critical Olympics
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries: 07.01.12

One of the most recognizable faces in American history is that of President Abraham Lincoln.

Alexandra Lange
The Shape of Lunch
John Foster
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.

Alexandra Lange
The Charismatic Megafauna of Design
Alexandra Lange
Dress Your Family in Formica and Faux Bois
Rob Walker
Dancing About Ruins

Dancing about ruins: Can debris, detritus, junk, be useful creative material?

Alexandra Lange
‘Deco Japan’ + Designing Women
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Jessica Helfand
Audrey Real Helfand: Designer Manquée

Fifty years ago, my mother Audrey was a prolific visual maker: today, she’d be running her own studio.

Rick Poynor
Motif Magazine: The World Made Visible

Motif magazine, founded in 1958, anticipated a new way of seeing, documenting and appreciating the “visible world.”

Alexandra Lange
Want to Buy A Valentine?
Adam Harrison Levy
A History Of The World In 100 Objects

Adam Harrison Levy reviews the book A History Of The World In 100 Objects.

David Stairs
Demythologizing Design: Another View of "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES"

David Stairs reviews "Design with other 90%:Cities"

Rick Poynor
The Infinite Warehouse of Images

The more photos we collectively produce, the more ruthless we need to be about bestowing our attention.

Elle Luna
Report from a Japanese Maid Café

Globetrotting IDEO designer Elle Luna writes of her adventures among crazed anime addicts.

Rick Poynor
Did We Ever Stop Being Postmodern?

Like it or not, argues the V&A's exhibition about postmodernism and design, we are all postmodern now.

Rick Poynor
Should We Look at Corrosive Images?

What do violent photographs of war do to us as viewers?

Rick Poynor
Jan Svankmajer and the Graphic Uncanny

Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design opens at the Kunstal in Rotterdam on September 24.

Rick Poynor
Richard Hamilton, the Great Decipherer
Alexandra Lange
An Xiao Mina
90 Years of Chinese Communism: A Multimedia Celebration

How the Chinese Communist Party designed its 90th anniversary commemorations

Rick Poynor
Funerary Portraits: Snapshots in Stone
Adrian Shaughnessy
The Politics of Desire and Looting

The part designers have played in the London riots.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Down with Innovation
Michael Erard
Notes on Getting the Daily Newspaper

Michael Erard tells of the experience of sharing the physical newspaper with his son.

Rick Poynor
The Dictionary as Art Concept

A new Magritte exhibition catalogue is not the first to take the form of a dictionary. How important is originality when it comes to book design?

Jessica Helfand
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?

Adam Harrison Levy
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.

Elliott Earls

The vainglorious Mediocrity displayed by “artists” of every stripe.

Alexandra Lange
Let’s Go! World’s Fairs of the 1930s
Rick Poynor
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.

Rick Poynor
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?

A DVD cover for the classic film noir Kiss Me Deadly uses the blindingly obvious symbol that just keeps on giving.

Rick Poynor
A Dream World Made by Machines
Alexandra Lange
Vicarious Thrifting, via Twitter
John Thackara
A Smooth Journey

Two images have preoccupied me in recent days.

Jessica Helfand
The Royal Tweet

Long criticized for not being relevant in contemporary culture, the British royal family announces the engagement of the future King of England via Twitter.

Rick Poynor
On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
Alexandra Lange
The Only Thing There’s Just Too Little Of
Rick Poynor
Starowieyski’s Graphic Universe of Excess

In Franciszek Starowieyski’s posters, desire, sexuality, monstrosity, madness and death conjoin in some of the most outrageous images found in graphic design.

Constantin Boym
True East

Meditations on the Middle Eastern incense burner.

Rick Poynor
Wim Crouwel: The Ghost in the Machine

Far from suppressing his own creative personality in the way he advised, Wim Crouwel was expressing it to the full.

Rick Poynor
An Unknown Master of Poster Design

Karel Teissig might just be the best poster designer you have never heard of.

John Thackara
Collapse of Civilization Tango
Rick Poynor
Slicing Open the Surrealist Eyeball

Surrealism codified a poetic principle that has always existed as a possibility and still exists in life and art.

John Thackara
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.

John Thackara
Africa: Where Events Are King

John Thackara interviews Mugendi M’Rithaa.

Nancy Levinson
Architect Barbie
Alexandra Lange
Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
Debbie Millman
Rob Walker

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”.

Jude Stewart
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.

Julie Lasky
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Hype

After sitting through two dozen aerial stunts, accompanied by a score with a U2 pedigree, and by something that might be described as a plot, I emerged astonished by only one thing: that no one has actually died while making this musical.

Jessica Helfand
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.

John Thackara
How the Banks Want to Make China Sick — and Broke

Is it me, or are some banking people incredibly stupid as well as being venal and sociopathic?

Steven Heller
My Big Fat Fast Food Feast at Eataly

A comparison of the vast differences of Italy's Eataly to New York's.

Rob Walker
Ghosts in the Machine

Everyday we are busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff. What happens to this “stuff” when we die?

John Thackara
UnBox: Where Next for Design in India?

UnBox, a three day festival in Delhi, in February, brings together creative collectives from around India.

Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch With The Critics: Year-End Awards

Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange pick the best and worse moments in design for 2010.

Rick Poynor
Everything has Become Science Fiction

Is science fiction's most crucial task to envision the future or to understand the present?

Rob Walker
Rob Walker’s Collection of Bicentennial Quarters

Rob Walker shares his collection of bicentennial quarters.

Chappell Ellison
The Would-be Words of 2010
John Thackara
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.

John Thackara
Jellyfish Farm
Rick Poynor
Where Is Art Now?

Leaving the art world to decide what art is doesn’t resolve the issue of quality.

Nancy Levinson
Art Talks
Jessica Helfand
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.

Alexandra Lange
My Marimekko Uniform

Wearing Marimekko is like being a walking work of art.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Minotaurs in Suburban England

English designer Vaughan Oliver met Adrian Shaughnessy to show him preliminary work on a deluxe Pixies box set called Minotaur.

Rick Poynor
Danzig Baldaev’s Prison House of Flesh
Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Surrealism Permanent Revelation
Laura Tarrish
Laura Tarrish’s Collection of Miniature Chairs

Laura Tarrish shares her collection of miniature chairs.

KT Meaney
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".

Andy Chen
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.

Debbie Millman
Bill Moggridge

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.

James Lapides
Graphic Intervention

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.

Michael Erard
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.

Adam Harrison Levy
The Wood Stacker

All his work, freed him from a dependency on oil. His heat is local.

Alexandra Lange
If These Walls Could Talk

On the ABC sitcom Modern Family, three different families are visually defined by their living rooms.

Rob Walker
Hearing Things

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.

Jessica Helfand
Fat Chance

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?

Jessica Helfand
The Real Skinny on the Real Skinny

The is the first of two essays on the visual nature of body image.

Jessica Helfand
In the Palm of Your Hand: Dexterity Puzzles

A selection of rare dexterity puzzles from the personal collection of Jessica Helfand.

Meena Kadri
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Kenneth Krushel
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.

Alexandra Lange
Where Have All the Windchimes Gone?

What is a beach rental coming to when the dishes are without fish?

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Ken Botnick, and Ira Raja
The Subtle Technology of Indian Artisanship

How India's craftsmen offer lessons in design thinking.

Helen Chang
Jugendstil: The Youth Style of Viennese Book Art
Alexandra Lange
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.

Michelle Hauser
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.

Alexandra Lange
Carolina On... (No, I Just Can't Do It)

Everything cool that has happened in Durham and environs has happened since I left.

Azby Brown
Bent by the Sun

What a longtime American-born resident of Japan has learned about his adopted country's ancient practice of sustainability.

Alexandra Lange
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.

Christian Wiman
"Five Houses Down"

Five Houses Down, a poem by Christian Wiman.

Alexandra Lange
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.

Andy Chen
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.

Alexandra Lange
Love and Flatware

A scene from Sleepless In Seattle makes me wonder about the idea that shared taste = true love.

Rob Walker

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.

Michael Erard
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.

Jennifer Ehrenberg
Chicago Welcomes You

On designing a resettlement process for Burmese immigrants in Chicago.

Alexandra Lange
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.

Owen Edwards
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 Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF Menstruation Challenge
Aspen Editors
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.

James Wegener
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.

Steven Heller
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.

Lindsay Stark

Aid worker Lindsay Stark's portrait of the ritual purification of a child soldier in Sierra Leone.

Timothy Jack Ward
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.

Owen Edwards
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.

Steven Heller
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.

Mark Lamster
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.

Karen Stein
The Plain Beauty of Well-Made Things

Judd worked as an art critic in his early years in New York as he established himself as an artist. From 1959 until the mid-1960s, his art criticism was his primary, if not only, source of income

Dmitri Siegel
Lost In the Supermarket

Dmitri Siegel gets lost in the Supermarket and encounters incredibly grippy toothbushes, spouts, nozzles, Thorstein Veblen and Adolf Loos.

Kerry William Purcell
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
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...

Chappell Ellison
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).

Rachel Berger
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...

Teddy Blanks
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...

Jessica Helfand
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...

Adam Harrison Levy
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...

Alexandra Lange

I found Floyd Bennett Field, the decomissioned 1930s airfield on the border of Brooklyn and Jamaica Bay, to be a very strange place.

Lena Dunham
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.

Adam Harrison Levy
Cars R Us

Andrew Bush’s photographs, featured in his new book Drive, remind us just how intimate we have become with our cars.

Mark Lamster
European Holiday

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.

Angela Riechers
Hot Ticket

To see a play or movie, or ride the Twentieth Century Limited, you needed a ticket, and the development of ticket-dispensing machines paralleled the growth of popular culture.

Margaret Wertheim
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

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
What's The Story?

And what becomes of all those dead tweets, anyway — all those long-expired, evaporated updates?

Steven Heller
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Mark Lamster
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.

Mark Lamster
Roid Rage

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.

Mark Lamster
Complaint Dept. (Redux)

Most complaints in sixty seconds, a new world record. You've read the transcript. Now watch the video.

Mark Lamster
A Letter to the President

A letter to Barack Obama the day after his inauguration.

Lorraine Wild
A Babylon of Signs

For a generation, since Venturi and Scott Brown’s Learning From Las Vegas, most Angelinos neither did not notice the steady proliferation of signs along their Southern California landscapes and strips, nor perhaps cared. With the turn of the century, that changed. For the last eight years Los Angeles has been engaged in a war with the outdoor advertising industry. 

Mark Lamster

Billy Crystal is one of those guests talk show producers adore, and if you were watching Letterman last night you know why.

Mark Lamster
Complaint Dept.

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.

Kerry Saretsky
Movable Feast

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.

Mark Lamster
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.

Mark Lamster
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.

Steven Heller
My Dada

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.

Andrew Blauvelt
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.

Dmitri Siegel
Design by Numbers

Dmitri Siegel discusses Stephen Baker's new book The Numerati and how data-mining and personalized content may impact design.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Adam Harrison Levy
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Michael Bierut
David Foster Wallace, Branding Theorist, 1962-2008

William Drenttel
Whose Flag?

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).

Thomas de Monchaux
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?

Steven Heller
Canned Laughter

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?

Jessica Helfand
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?

William Davies King
Collections of Nothing

Jessica Helfand
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.

Andrew Flamm & Michelle Hauser
Folk Photos

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.

Randy Nakamura
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

John Thackara
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?

Andrew Blauvelt
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Adam Harrison Levy
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.

Steven Heller
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

Jessica Helfand
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...

John Thackara
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?

The Editors
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...

Rick Poynor
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Rob Walker
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.

Cheryl Towler Weese
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?

Michael Bierut
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!

Dmitri Siegel
Designers and Dilettantes

Dmitri Siegel discusses graphic design authorship and the impending release of Elliott Earls' new film, The Sarany Motel.

Jessica Helfand

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?

Tom Vanderbilt
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.

Michael Bierut
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.

William Drenttel
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jesse Nivens
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?

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

David Stairs
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...

Jessica Helfand
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?

Jessica Helfand
I'm Not Ready to Make Nice

Adrian Shaughnessy
"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."

Michael Bierut
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.

John Thackara
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.

Alissa Walker
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.

Jessica Helfand
How Hollywood Nailed The Half-Pipe

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.
Michael Bierut
New House

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.

Jessica Helfand
Into the Pink

Co-opting a color and making it your own.

Michael Erard
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.

Jessica Helfand
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?

Michael Bierut
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.

Jessica Helfand
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?
William Drenttel
What Ever Happened to, Oregon?

But back in 1999, in its Netflix-like heyday, 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, Oregon — the first dot com city in the world?

Jessica Helfand
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.

Dmitri Siegel
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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?

Lawrence Weschler
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.

Jessica Helfand
"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.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism

Julie Lasky
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.
Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
The Art of Thinking Through Making

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
A Sequence in Time

01:02:03 04/05/06 This number sequence in time will not occur again until 2106.

Lawrence Weschler
Languorous Bodyscapes

"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.

Dmitri Siegel
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?

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
The D Word

HGTV's sunny splendor of twenty-seven minute remodels and inexhaustible inspiration: fodder for the DIY devotee.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Robert Brownjohn and The Big Idea

Jessica Helfand
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.

Mark Lamster
Seeing Red

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.

Adrian Shaughnessy
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?
Jessica Helfand
Face Value

Facial transplants mapping our future: how much is the world of design responsible?

Dmitri Siegel

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?
Jessica Helfand
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?

Alexandra Lange
Married with Tchotchkes

For many design-obsessed couples registering at Moss requires more strategy than playing the stock market.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
Eye of the Storm

A re-entrance into the world: Following Hurricane Katrina, how should design continue?

Rick Poynor
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto

Debbie Millman
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon + Jake Gorst

Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon and Jake Gorst talk about Gorst's new documentary Leisurama.

Rick Poynor
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.

Jessica Helfand
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."
Rick Poynor
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.

Rick Poynor
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Rick Poynor
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.

Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken, Part 2

Grant McCracken PhD, author and a research affiliate at MIT.

Jessica Helfand
Scrapbooking: The New Paste-Up

"Craft-born embellishments," note one supplier of scrapbooking products, "are penetrating an unexpected market: graphic design."

Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken, Part 1

Grant McCracken PhD, is an author and a research affiliate at MIT.

Lawrence Weschler
The Aural As An Architectonic Challenge

What are the people over at 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.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Jessica Helfand
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.
Jessica Helfand
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.
Tom Vanderbilt
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?

Rick Poynor
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?

Rick Poynor
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.

Rick Poynor
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.

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