show

Jennifer Kabat
Exhibition as Inquiry: An Interview with Kieran Long
07.03.14

Guns, shoes and cheap jeans: Kieran Long has added all of these to the Victoria & Albert Museum’s permanent collection.

Adam Harrison Levy
Letters in Reverse
06.14.14

Adam Harrison Levy on a son’s hopes for his father.

John Maeda, and Becky Bermont
Building a Design Culture in an ‘End-Up’ Technology World
Debbie Millman
Maria Giudice
Alexandra Lange
Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
Samantha García
Inalienable Rights, Wolfsonian-Style
04.04.14

A review of  the inaugural "Power of Design" ideas festival in Miami.

Debbie Millman
Jonathan Harris
OBlog
Susan S. Szenasy with Debbie Millman at The Museum of Arts and Design
03.19.14

Thursday, March 20th Susan S. Szenasy will talk with Debbie Millman at The Museum of Arts and Design about her distinguished career as a design critic, journalist and educator.

Alexandra Lange
Criticism = Love
02.01.14

Why you have to love design to be a critic.

John Thackara
John Thackara on Avatar
Debbie Millman
Chip Kidd
10.21.13

Legendary book designer Chip Kidd on why his TED talk was the 19 most frightening minutes of his life.

David Womack
David Womack on Space
Andrew Shea
Shaping Design Education at LEAP Symposium
10.07.13

A review by Andrew Shea of the recent, September 19-24, 2013, LEAP symposium at Art Center College of Design.

Elizabeth Guffey
Design For the Rest of Us: Where Are Design Museums’ Benches?
Sara Ivry
Sara Ivry on Language
09.26.13

On this episode of Insights Per Minute Sara Ivry comments on language.

Alexandra Lange
Learning New Tricks
09.24.13

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.

Steven Heller
Steven Heller on Recommendations
Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd on Ready
Natalie Foster
Natalie Foster on Sharing
Adam Harrison Levy
Adam Harrison Levy on Questions
Thomas Fisher
Thomas Fisher on Survival
Alice Twemlow
Alice Twemlow on Home
Nicholas Christakis
Nicholas Christakis on Networks
Ralph Caplan
Ralph Caplan on Titles
OBlog
Making Big Things Out of Small Pieces
08.20.13

Researchers at MIT have developed a super strong material created out of interlocking small parts

Rob Walker
Looking Better, All The Time
Alexandra Lange
Nevermind the Masterpiece
Wanda Orlikowski
Jazz-Inspired Leadership
07.01.13

Organizations most responsive to change are often the ones that replace the orchestral model with a new one — the jazz combo.

OBlog
Transform 2013: Design Innovation in Healthcare
06.12.13

Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation Transform Symposium will take place September 8-10 2013, in Rochester, MN.

John Thackara
Trust Is Not An Algorithm
Alexandra Lange
Praise the Partner(s)
OBlog
AIGA (Re)design Awards
06.04.13

The AIGA (Re)design Awards is an international graphic design competition celebrating the most influential designs that advocate for strong communities, sustainable environments and thriving economies.

OBlog
Be an AIGA Design Star
05.29.13

Command X — the AIGA live design reality show that happens on stage at the biennial design conference — is back for its fourth season.

Alexandra Lange
The Fork and the World: Design 101
05.28.13

If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?

Jessica Helfand
Our Shopping Lists, Our Selves
OBlog
counter/point: The 2013 D-Crit Conference
05.02.13

The 2013 D-Crit Conference will take place on Saturday, May 11, 2013.The lineup includes Paola Antonelli, Andrew Blauvelt, Fiona Raby, Mark Foster Gage, Toni Griffin, and Michael Sorkin.

Soren Kaplan
Harnessing the Power of Surprise
05.01.13

Breakthroughs share three common characteristics: they challenge fundamental assumptions about existing products, services, business models, or organizations; they transform existing ways of doing business by rewriting rules or revolutionizing current practices; and they apply resources in entirely new ways, whether people, knowledge, relationships, or technology.

OBlog
Bringing Data and Storytelling Together
04.15.13

In a guest post on the Tribeca Film Institute blog, Ingrid Kopp, the U.S. Director of Shooting People, explores the reltionship between data ans storytelling.

Rick Poynor
The Practical Virtue of Works That Work
04.08.13

Works That Work magazine reclaims the word “creativity” from the stultifying embrace of branding culture and design thinking.

Francesca Granata
“Women’s Work”: An Interview with Judith Thurman
04.01.13

Francsca Granata interviews Judith Thurman about fashion criticism and her own foray into it for The New Yorker.

Debbie Millman
ON! at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati
03.22.13

In this special Design Matters video episode, Debbie Millman gives you on a preview the new exhibit ON! at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati.

Debbie Millman
Sara Blake
03.22.13

Debbie Millman talks to Sara Blake about collaborating with her sister, creating portraits of 100 girls and illustrating NBA players.

Kate Cullinane
The Original Paradox
Debbie Millman
Steven Heller
03.08.13

Steven Heller discusses his new ebook, Design Cult, and reflects on what designers have in common with Harvey Weinstein.

Debbie Millman
Clement Mok
03.01.13

Clement Mok on the early days of Apple computer, the joys of working for Steve Jobs and starting his successful businesses.

Rob Walker
Let’s Make A Mark
02.12.13

Ellen Susan proposes a new punctuation mark, the ElRey, for the digital-text era.

OBlog
National Poetry Month Poster
02.05.13

The 2013 National Poetry Month Poster, designed by Jessica Helfand.

OBlog
Little Printer
01.09.13

Little Printer is a (little) printer that sits on your desk, subscribes to your friends feeds, picks up new puzzles then prints a beatiful little magazine just for you.

Debbie Millman
Jason Kottke
01.04.13

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

Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch With The Critics: Third-Annual Year-End Awards
John Thackara
German Government Think-Tank Supports Fringe Change Agents
John Thackara
Venice: from Gated Lagoon to Bioregion
Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
10.08.12

Blocks, rocket ships, playgrounds and balls: the hidden meaning of playthings at the Museum of Modern Art.

Alexandra Lange
Just Keep Typing
Fernando Aguiar
Ecologic Sonnet
09.21.12

'Ecologic Sonnet', a visual poem by Fernando Aguiar.

OBlog
Amend
09.20.12

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.

OBlog
London Design Festival 2012
09.14.12

Overview of the tenth London Design Festival.

Scott Boylston
Designing Design into Society
09.11.12

A report on the Design Ethos 2012 DO-ference.

Rick Poynor
The Never-ending Struggle against Clutter
08.26.12

Clutter and design are inseparable as concepts because clutter is the negation of design.

Ashley Toliver
King
Rob Walker
The City In Your Dreams
08.21.12

A blog collecting stories for mapping the "collective unconscious" of NYC.

Michael Bierut
The Typeface of Truth
08.09.12

What are the implications when Errol Morris declares the typeface most likely to induce credulity is Baskerville?

Alexandra Lange
The Charismatic Megafauna of Design
David Cabianca
Graphic Design is Dead, Long Live Graphic Design
OBlog
The Hypothetical Development Organization
05.17.12

The Hypothetical Development Organization will be included in the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.

Andrew Shea
Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions
05.01.12

How a disruption in routine (potentially by design) can alter the environment.

Rob Walker
Dancing About Ruins
OBlog
James Victore's Q&A Tuesday
04.16.12

James Victore is presenting a weekly YouTube series – Q+A Tuesday – in which he addresses a questions about working in a creative industry.

Rick Poynor
The Closed Shop of Design Academia
Debbie Millman
Roman Mars
04.06.12

Radio producer Roman Mars discusses the connection between ’zines and radio, why he ditched science and the reason he named his show “99% Invisible”.

Debbie Millman
Jen Bekman
03.02.12

Jen Bekman discusses managing a BBS in the early days of the internet, her first email exchange and the importance of everyone owning art.

Rick Poynor
The Unspeakable Pleasure of Ruins
02.18.12

“Ruin porn,” a reductive tag that makes any photograph of ruins seem suspect, ignores the cultural history of the ruin.

Phil Patton
Audi Urban Future Summit 2011
11.21.11

Report on one of the latest conferences to take on the global theme of the city

Rick Poynor
This Post has Been Declared a Link-free Zone
Mark Lamster
Majority Report
10.31.11

Review of Design with the Other 90%: Cities

Rick Poynor
Did We Ever Stop Being Postmodern?
10.16.11

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

Rob Walker
An Interview with Kevin Slavin
10.10.11

A conversation between Rob Walker and co-founder of the game development company Area/Code, Kevin Slavin.

Alexandra Lange
What Makes Architecture Useful?
Rick Poynor
Should We Look at Corrosive Images?
John Thackara
5% Health: The Risk of Catabolic Collapse and Peak Fat in Modern Health Systems
09.26.11

The writer, at Mayo Clinic's "Transform" conference, asks: Are high-end medical systems the best place to focus design's creative capacity?

Rick Poynor
A Swedish Perspective on Critical Practice
09.09.11

The Reader, a recent book from Stockholm about critical practice, has some smart insights while missing the bigger picture.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Raging Bull
08.09.11

A response to Michael Bierut’s essay about the relationship between bullshit and design, and the discussion that ensued.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Down with Innovation
08.02.11

Designers have too readily accepted the caricature of themselves as airheaded stylists. Visual form is a vital expression of culture.

John Thackara
Ten Ways to Redesign Design Competitions
07.22.11

How to improve design competitions aimed at social good.

Laura Weiss
Structured for Creativity
07.05.11

How to scale a nonprofit organization so it is optimized for impact.

John Thackara
How to Make Systems Thinking Sexy
06.30.11

John Thackara's 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge keynote address.

Jane Margolies
How to Start a Movement
06.13.11

Interview with movement entrepreneur Jeremy Heimans, founder of Purpose.com.

William Underhill
Transensing: Glassware for the Blind
06.06.11

Award-winning glassware for the visually impaired.

Rick Poynor
A Dream World Made by Machines
05.26.11

Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a complex, demanding, audacious piece of television.

Julie Lasky
Everything Must Go
05.25.11

A new blog speaks to our current interest in shedding material goods.

Alexandra Lange
Science Gets Around to Architecture
05.04.11

Why are we still privileging scientific studies over visual thinking?

The Editors
Design for the Real World Redux
04.05.11

To mark the acquisition of Papanek’s archives by the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the school’s Victor J. Papanek Foundation, in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum New York and the Museum of Arts and Design, has announced a prize for a concept, prototype or product “that upholds Papanek’s vision of environmental and/or social responsibility.”

Julie Lasky
Search for the Obvious: Challenge #2
03.30.11

Once again, Acumen Fund is looking for creative solutions to social problems. This time the focus is on mothers.

Rick Poynor
Slicing Open the Surrealist Eyeball
Rick Poynor
Solitude in Dark Trees
The Editors
Like the Word or Not, the Era of "Sustainism" Is Here
Maria Popova
COMMON
02.02.11

Report on Alex Bogusky and Rob Schuham's COMMON project marrying capitalism and social change.

Maria Popova
Rise of the Micro-Medici
12.23.10

On the value of microfunding creative ideas that stem from a single mind.

Rick Poynor
Everything has Become Science Fiction
12.17.10

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

Ernest Beck
Cards of Change
12.07.10

Unemployed workers retrofit their former business cards to send hopeful messages.

Rick Poynor
On My Screen: Bill Morrison’s Decasia
12.03.10

The avant-garde classic Decasia, assembled from decaying film stock, is a sublime vision of another reality.

Rick Poynor
Where Is Art Now?
12.01.10

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

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Surrealism Permanent Revelation
Debbie Millman
Bill Moggridge
10.15.10

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.

Meena Kadri
Tinkers, Hackers, Farmers, Crafters
08.09.10

Interview with Emeka Okafor, founder of Maker Faire Africa.

The Editors
Neville Brody Wants You
07.22.10

Call for submissions to the Anti Design Festival, September 18-26, London, England.

Vera Sacchetti
Virtue Rewarded: Design and Social Innovation Prizes
07.21.10

Descriptions of nine awards programs that regularly give out $100,000 for design and social innovation projects.

Michael Erard
The Dream Job Project Part II
07.19.10

How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? The results of these questions, part II.

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson
New Visions of Home
Julie Lasky
Protect Me from What I Want
06.09.10

Photo in memory of Tobias Wong.

Roger Martin
Design Thinking Comes to the U.S. Army
05.03.10

Design is almost overnight the centerpiece of military doctrine and the U.S. Army has gotten design thinking quite right. The struggle to get design thinking ensconced in Army doctrine, though, is no easy feat.

Jane Margolies
The Laugh Bug
04.19.10

Is Volkswagen's Fun Theory campaign anything more than a turbocharged marketing stunt?

Michael Erard
The Dream Job Project
04.08.10

How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? I invite you to weigh in.

Julie Lasky
Sweating the Small Stuff
02.23.10

Review of TED 2010 conference, "What the World Needs Now," Long Beach, California, February 9–13.

Jessica Helfand
Prisoners of Logic
02.19.10

For five or six years now, I have led a double life as a painter. Until recently, I viewed this other identity as a kind of dirty secret.

Daniel Stephens, and Brooke Brewer
Aspen Design Summit: Film
02.05.10

This short film by GoodFocus Films captures participant perspectives at the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009.

Jane Margolies
Rising Currents
Rick Landesberg
The Bleating Edge
01.05.10

Rick Landesberg's photo of an innovative design in Haiti for keeping goats in their place.

Jay Parkinson
The Road to Wellville
12.18.09

Recommendations for designing a healthcare system around our nation's health needs — chronic care management, prevention and acute care treatment — not history, doctors and their profitability.

Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Initial Report
11.20.09

Initial report on the 2009 Aspen Design Summit, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute.

Andy Chen
The Value of Empathy
10.13.09

Andy Chen responds to the debate between David Stairs and Valerie Casey on the recent surge of social design activity.

William Drenttel
Aspen Design Summit: Program Description
10.06.09

AIGA and Winterhouse Institute are joining forces to stage the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009.

Valerie Casey, and David Stairs
The Kindness of Strangers
10.01.09

Debate between graphic designer David Stairs and Designers Accord founder Valerie Casey about designers' roles and limits as social activists.

Roger Martin
What is Design Thinking Anyway?
09.28.09

Most companies today rely on analytical thinking. Roger Martin applies these principles to business practices.

Kerry William Purcell
The Art of Psychographics
09.10.09

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. 

Teddy Blanks
Teddy Blanks on Figurines
08.18.09

Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. This story by Teddy Blanks is recorded as an MP3...

Rachel Berger
Significant Objects: #1 Mom Hooks
08.17.09

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
08.17.09

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
08.17.09

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
08.17.09

Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The first of five stories is by Adam Harrison Levy...

Julie Lasky
When Worlds Collide
07.30.09

Report on TEDGlobal 2009, held July 21–24 in Oxford, England.

Mark Lamster
Blriot! The Centennial of a Historic Flight
07.25.09

A century ago today, Louis Blriot took off in an airplane of his own invention.

Jessica Helfand
Land in Crisis: The Antelope Valley Story
04.14.09

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?
04.09.09

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

Adrian Shaughnessy
Ten Graphic Design Paradoxes
03.27.09

I’ve just finished writing a book about graphic design. There are entries on kerning, the wisdom of using only lowercase letters, and the merits of Univers. But mostly it’s a book about the soft stuff — the stuff that we deal with every day and tend to take for granted.

Murray Moss
Design Hates a Depression
01.06.09

"Design tends to thrive in hard times," says The New York Times's Michael Cannell. No, it doesn't. It tends to suffer.

Jessica Helfand
Ten Things That Need to be Redesigned
12.17.08

Lottery tickets, the hearse, monopoly money, IRS forms, airport design, children's ski jackets, political lawn signs, TV remotes, blister packaging and the state of New Jersey are examined for their design flaws.

Jessica Helfand
Graphic Design Spam
11.07.08

Have you received any graphic design spam in your mailbox lately?

Michael Bierut
26 Years, 85 Notebooks
10.12.08

Since 1982, I have never been without a marble-covered composition book. I am now in the middle of Notebook #85. Together, these notebooks create a history of my working life that spans three decades.

Jessica Helfand
Second in a Series: Completions
09.15.08

The series, when shown on a single surface, carries with it a kind of implicit satisfaction that a series disseminated over time does not.

Jessica Helfand
First In A Series: Cartophily
08.07.08

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?

Paula Scher
It's How You Said It
07.17.08

Paula Scher: "The problem with the New Yorker's controversial Obama cover is not that it's dangerous and tasteless. The problem is that it isn’t dangerous or tasteless enough."

William Davies King
Collections of Nothing
07.14.08


Jessica Helfand
Annals of Ephemera, Part III: Aging 2.0
07.14.08

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.

Jessica Helfand
Reflections on the Ephemeral World, Part Two: Food
06.30.08

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.

Jessica Helfand
Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
05.30.08

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
05.16.08

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.

Jessica Helfand
Viewer Discretion Advised
03.21.08

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...

Matt Soar
Fail Again, Fail Better
03.19.08

So, what of productive failure with respect to graphic design and typography? The idea of failing again and again for a reason? Does it somehow help to define the limits of professional practice?

Jessica Helfand
Gone, Baby, Gone (Things, Part II)
01.30.08

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.

Jessica Helfand
Things, Part I
12.03.07

In an age characterized by elevated environmental awareness — reducing our carbon footprint, enhancing our sustainable output — we remain obsessed with our attachment to the material world.

Steven Kroeter
Design Thinking, Muddled Thinking
11.30.07

What does it mean when Harvard Business School makes a list of top design schools? Two words: muddled thinking.

Jessica Helfand
Stan Brakhage: Caught on Tape
10.01.07

For Stan Brakhage, that concentration resulted in extraordinary explorations of many things, including the life cycle of a moth, caught on adhesive strips of tape, and subsequently captured on film where it regained — however briefly — the magnificent illusion of mobility. For designers, faced by budgets and clients and deadlines, the luxury of so much isolation seems a distant, if not an altogether perverse paradigm. But are these intentions really so mutually exclusive?

Jessica Helfand
Harry Potter and The Enchanted Letterforms
07.17.07

The most recent theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix includes a paradigm shift that warrants particular recognition, for the simple reason that this may be the first film in which mere letterforms, once the purview of the production designer, break free and actually join the cast.

Tom Vanderbilt
On the Squareness of Milk Containers
06.13.07

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.

William Drenttel
Al Gore for President
05.31.07

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
05.28.07

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
The New Manifest Destiny
04.22.07

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.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Ephemera: Town & Country Cookbook
03.26.07

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
03.14.07

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.

Jessica Helfand
I'm Not Ready to Make Nice
02.12.07


Adrian Shaughnessy
"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"
02.05.07

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 Erard
Word Made Flesh
01.13.07

The forgotten discipline of sentence diagramming forces the structure of language to wear the clothes of images. A sentence diagram is less a map than a portrait, and in this vaudeville language is painted, corsetted and trussed.

Michael Bierut
The Graphic Glass Ceiling
12.11.06

A week ago, I was the moderator of a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y with Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd and Dave Eggers. Afterwards, someone asked, "Why do you — all three of you — suppose there are so few female graphic designers — or at least so few female 'superstar' graphic designers?" There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. What would your answer be?

Jessica Helfand
How Hollywood Nailed The Half-Pipe
11.27.06

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.
Jessica Helfand
Into the Pink
11.17.06

Co-opting a color and making it your own.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Listomania
11.14.06

The English design group Spin has produced a publication called 50 Reading Lists, which allows the reader the double pleasure of admiring the handsome presentation of 50 lists, as well as the chance to study the reading habits of 50 graphic designers.

Jessica Helfand
What Makes A Good Poster?
11.08.06

From Nineteenth Century broadsides to Paula Scher's posters for The Public Theatre, the history of the poster is the history of modern civilization. So why are academics so hell-bent on poster board and bad typography? Why don't they ask us for help?

Jessica Helfand
My Cup Holder Runneth Over
10.22.06

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?

Jessica Helfand
Death 'N' Stuff
09.21.06

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?
Kenneth Krushel
The Face Of Oblivion
09.16.06

Faces on supermarket packaging conform to a research-based "psychographic" that hasn't essentially changed in more than two decades. What is it about our self-image that identifies, at least on a consumer basis, with such fictional, even farcical lifestyles?

Michael Bierut
This is My Process
09.09.06

Designers often describe our work processes in terms that are dated and ill-suited for the activities that we actually undertake. Is there a model for the way that artists work that would be intelligible in a business context?

Adrian Shaughnessy
Living Without The Internet
08.03.06

The "community" that I find on the internet is the communality of shared enthusiasms for marginalised subjects.

Jessica Helfand
A Good Pan Is Hard To Find
07.28.06

On baking a cheesecake and becoming a better designer: it's one big balancing act of artistry and skill.

Jessica Helfand
The Right Stuff
07.07.06

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?

Jessica Helfand
Crafting All The Way To The Bank
06.29.06

Craft is a tricky word. When we feel ourselves pulled in by the unforgiving vortex of digitized everything, we plead for craft, throwing it out like a life preserver — a desperate appeal to the forgotten soul. In those moments, it becomes a metaphor for a kind of imperiled humanity. But what about craft, we ask?

Jessica Helfand
"Oui, Oui, Oui" All The Way Home
06.01.06

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.

Justin Good
What is Beauty? Or, On the Aesthetics of Wind Farms
05.25.06

What is beauty and how does it relate to ecology? A look at contrasting aesthetic intuitions about wind farms reveals a paradigm shift in how we understand beauty.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism
05.22.06


Michael Bierut
I Am a Plagiarist
05.11.06

Plagiarism is a hot topic in the world of publishing, What does it mean in the world of design? Michael Bierut pleads guilty.

Jessica Helfand
The Art of Thinking Through Making
04.21.06


Jessica Helfand
A Sequence in Time
04.04.06

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

Kenneth Krushel
Santa Fe Diarist
03.28.06

But there seem to be equally vigorous efforts to commercialize this distant past in Santa Fe, embracing a design esthetic that advertises itself as the "essence" of what had been thought to be lost. Then, in re-introducing this historical narrative, an efficient assembly line manufactures it into a commercially lucrative design creed.

Michael Bierut
Warning: May Contain Non-Design Content
03.18.06

Design is that it is almost always about something else. The more things you're interested in, the better your work will be.

Lawrence Weschler
Languorous Bodyscapes
03.16.06

"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.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Google and the Tyranny of Good Design
03.12.06

The Google logo — that scrap of oddball typography — is perhaps the most famous piece of graphic design in the world today. In its own small way, it's a little beacon of insurrection, in a world where graphic designers have become the agents of conformity.

Dmitri Siegel
Broadcast vs. Broadband
03.09.06

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
03.02.06

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.

Michael Bierut
The Persistence of the Exotic Menial
02.26.06

25 years ago, writer Ralph Caplan said that designers are exotic menials: exotic because of the presumed mystery inherent in what we do, and menial because whatever we do is required only for relatively low-level objectives. Has anything changed since then?

Jessica Helfand
Separated at Birth: Method? Or Madness?
02.05.06

Karim Rashid's method© cleaner is strikingly similar to that of a discount depot: coincidental congruousness?

Jessica Helfand
The D Word
01.29.06

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
01.19.06


Michael Bierut
In Praise of Slow Design
01.15.06

Is there a such a thing as slow graphic design? A look at 80 years of barely perceptible design changes at The New Yorker.

Jessica Helfand
Face Value
12.16.05

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

Dmitri Siegel
Bartleby™
12.11.05

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
Cease and Design
12.01.05

Where graphic design education is concerned, more doing and less asking is necessary.

Michael Bierut
Innovation is the New Black
11.20.05

Innovation is the latest buzzword to overtake the design profession. What does it mean?

Jessica Helfand
The Shock Of The Old: Rethinking Nostalgia
10.27.05

Placing Nostalgia: where in the design landscape does it fit? And should it be included in the first place?

Jessica Helfand
On Citizenship and Humanity: An Appeal for Design Reform
10.06.05

Ruminations on the Citizen Designer: A human first, a designer second, but most importantly, one who responds to collective cultural needs.

Rick Poynor
Where Are the Design Critics?
09.25.05

There is no reason why design criticism shouldn’t take an oppositional view of design's instrumental uses and its social role, but few design writers seem motivated to produce this kind of criticism.

Jessica Helfand
Eye of the Storm
09.01.05

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

William Drenttel
Reading the News & Charting Death
08.23.05

The potential for terrorism is not a chart I can make in my head. The numbers are there, but the design alludes me.

Rick Poynor
Sublime Little Tubes of Destruction
08.20.05

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
07.31.05

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
07.08.05


Momus
REDESIGNDESIGN
05.15.05

REDESIGNDEUTSCHLAND formed in 2001 and have an office on the Torstrasse in central Berlin. Their work is perhaps best seen as a Swiftian satire on design itself, a playful Postmodern prod in the direction of Modernism's tendency (especially in German-speaking countries) to reduce everything to a kind of Year Zero of irrational rationality.

Rick Poynor
Why Architects Give Me the Willies
03.13.05

No matter how central graphic communication might be to our lives, architecture always dominates press coverage because it is very expensive, expresses the conditions of power, and is just plain big.

Momus
Mediation for the Masses
03.08.05

Rather than coming at the expense of the poor, mediation might be the next step for them too. If all goes well, we might be looking at a world in which everyone is a foolish tourist, a happy shopper, a postmodern self-mediator.

Jessica Helfand
My Friend Flickr
02.18.05

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.
Rick Poynor
The Ikea Riot: Unsatisfied Excess?
02.12.05

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?

William Drenttel
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag
12.29.04

In Remembrance of Susan Sontag: a designer's twenty-five years of interaction with the legandary writer.

Jessica Helfand
Code (PMS) Blue
12.23.04

Hospital rooms are architectural oddities: they're all function with no form. To the extent that, in matters of critical care, timing is everything, why should it matter? Then again, why shouldn't it?

Michael Bierut
The World in Two Footnotes
11.18.04

Writing in Eye Magazine, Nick Bell observes that designers too often act as "agents of neutrality" or "aesthetes of style" and suggests that they focus more on their work's content.

Jessica Helfand
Gentlemen Prefer Blogs
09.24.04

Watching Annie Duke beat out a half-dozen male competitors in the
World Poker Tournament this week, I experienced an odd case of déjà vu. It wasn't because of some Proustian memory of my own poker prowess — far from it, infact. Rather, what I felt was an odd sort of parallel universe with something I've been ruminating about for some time: namely, my presence here on Design Observer as the sole female contributor, and the scarcity of women who regularly participate in discussions here on this site.
Jessica Helfand
Under The Microscope
09.09.04


Michael Bierut
What is Design For? A Discussion
08.17.04

Rick Poynor and Michael Bierut discuss the purpose and promise of graphic design, in a conversation moderated by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne.

Jessica Helfand
An Instrument of Sufficiently Lucid Cogitation
08.05.04

The legendary French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, who died on Tuesday at his home in the South of France, always carried a sketchbook with him. Today's obituary in The New York Times alleges that he described drawing as meditative, while photography was intuitive: though certainly both activities might have been informed by a relentless need to observe and in a sense, preserve the world around him.

Jessica Helfand
Graphic Design: The Movie
07.21.04

Some time ago, I pondered about the future of graphic design as a reality show, but recently I've become convinced that its real future lies in its actual integrated presence onscreen: design as part prop, part protagonist.

Jessica Helfand
Design Gone Mad
07.16.04


Rick Poynor
Where are the Design Intellectuals?
07.03.04

Prospect magazine has published a list of the 100 top British public intellectuals. A handful of visual art and architecture people make the cut, but no from design is included, reflecting its absence from public debate.

Jessica Helfand
Designer by Day, Catwoman by Night
06.11.04


Jessica Helfand
Time Waits for No Fan
05.01.04


Rick Poynor
Critics and Their Purpose
04.23.04

Pulling a 1960s art magazine from the shelf, I opened it at random to find a long list of thoughts about art criticism assembled in 1966 by students at the Royal College of Art in London. Many of these ideas apply to design.

Rick Poynor
Theory with a Small "t"
04.17.04

A critical writing determined by the need to shape practice will be limited in the cultural insights it can offer. This is the last thing that design writing needs when ways to engage a wider public could be opening up.

Jessica Helfand
Graphic Flanerie
04.15.04

Graphic Design's real power comes from its ability to reach us through any of a number of means, both real and virtual, now and later. This ability to transcend the everyday and resonate in the heart, the soul, the mind and the memory—this is graphic design's reality, its legacy, and it is, decidedly, a reality that is more than a sum of its parts.

Rick Poynor
How to Say What You Mean
04.09.04

There is a crucial difference between subtle and complex ideas and needlessly convoluted forms of expression. The challenge now for design writing is to move outwards into a world in which design is everywhere.

Jessica Helfand
The Lying Game
04.01.04


Jessica Helfand
Blanket Statements
03.16.04


Jessica Helfand
The DNA of AND: Ampersand as Myth and Metaphor
03.12.04


Michael Bierut
1989: Roots of Revolution
03.06.04

"Dangerous Ideas," the 1989 conference of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) chaired by Tibor Kalman and Milton Glaser, introduced many themes -- social responsibility, political engagement, professional ethics -- that still resonate today.

Jessica Helfand
Regarding the Photography of Others
03.05.04


William Drenttel
Defamiliarization: A Personal History
03.03.04


Jessica Helfand
The Crisis of Intent
02.24.04


Michael Bierut
(Over)explaining Design
01.18.04

From the murals at Rockefeller Center to the proposals for the World Trade Center site, designers demonstrate an eagerness to explain, and perhaps overexplain, their ideas. Can the explanations get in the way of the work? Should the work speak for itself?

Jessica Helfand
Mind the Light, Light the Mind
01.02.04

As I began to describe Quaker Meeting for Worship — where one sits in silence for some period of time, in a large room with any number of other congregants, and where one stands to speak, on virtually any topic, when moved to do so — I realized that this presented a compelling metaphor for blogging.

William Drenttel
Shallow Water Dictionary
12.07.03

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a little out-of-print tract called the Shallow Water Dictionary: A Grounding in Estuary English by John R. Stilgoe, a professor of landscape architecture at Harvard.

Jessica Helfand
On Visual Empathy
11.22.03

In a world besieged by unpredictable atrocities, don't we all feel a little emotionally raw? Two recent articles in suggest that visual empathy may more critical to a productive imagination than we thought.

Jessica Helfand
Implausible Fictions
11.12.03

At what point does the designer's interpretation threaten to skew, or misrepresent or somehow implausibly amplify information in a manner that might be considered irresponsible?

Jessica Helfand
The Art of Elegant Abstraction
09.10.03

Bill Morrison's surprising 66-minute film is now playing on the Sundance Channel. For listings, see: http://www.sundancechannel.com/film_finder/index.php?startingLetter=d


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