show

Observed
Redesiging the Parking Sign
07.17.14

Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting parking tickets. Her solution: redesign the signs.

Rob Walker
Object of Interest: The Yellow Card
06.21.14

An appreciation of a great World Cup object: the yellow card.

Observed
Shape: A Film About Design
04.04.14

Shape is a short film that is part of MakeShapeChange , a project aimed at young people to get them thinking about how the world is made around them and where design fits in.

Debbie Millman
Jonathan Harris
03.24.14

Jonathan Harris on his web and database art projects, his relationship to time and memory, and the sexuality of the internet.

Rob Walker
Seeing The Problem
11.05.13

How a graphic communication campaign could help us address a real electoral map crisis: Gerrymandering 2.0.

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
Branding By Numbers
Rob Walker
What Are You Looking At?
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
03.04.12

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment. This week's focus is charts and diagrams.

Tom Vanderbilt
Interface Time
08.15.11

Review of "Talk to Me" at Museum of Modern Art

Rick Poynor
The Dictionary as Art Concept
07.06.11

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?

Rick Poynor
Paul Stiff, the Reader’s Champion
Julie Lasky
Design Indaba 2011
03.08.11

Review of Design Indaba 2011 conference in Cape Town, South Africa

Mark Lamster
Gerd Arntz: Design Icon
01.20.11

Gerd Arntz: A design icon who designed icons.

Alexandra Lange
Networks Before the Internet
12.02.10

A new exhibit at the Noguchi Museum shows how small and intertwined were the worlds of mid-century art, design and architecture.

Jonathan Schultz
Solo Kota Kita
10.28.10

Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.

Michael Bierut
Mr. Vignelli’s Map
09.14.10

Vignelli Celebration: Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map is a beautiful example of information design that was ultimately rejected by its users.

William Underhill
Map Kibera
07.26.10

Report on the Map Kibera project to provide navigation and information on Nairobi's massive informal settlement.

Alexandra Lange
Nothing Runs Like A...
09.21.09

A note about Deere & Company’s foray into the consumer market.

Gong Szeto
Interview with Brian Oakes
09.22.08

It’s not often that graphs and numbers take center stage in a popular film, but in the brilliant hands of graphic designer Brian Oakes, information design is not a backdrop but a main character in the recently released documentary I.O.U.S.A. Interview by Gong Szeto.

Tom Vanderbilt
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do
07.23.08


KT Meaney
Greening the Grocery Store
05.24.08

It turns out that the "recycling symbol" at the bottom of my yogurt container had nothing to do with its recyclability. So why was it there? My curiosity led to findings around which I built a design class.

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.

William Drenttel
Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)
08.14.06

How do we measure the danger level from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus? What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times. We took our cue from a certain John James Audubon. Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.

Jessica Helfand
Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind
04.30.06

Door hangers seem the perfect metaphor for FEMA's failure: they're one-dimensional, unnecessarily complicated, and basically useless.

Michael Bierut
The Great Non-Amber-Colored Hope
10.24.05

A student design for a prescription pill bottle takes a metoric rise to mass production and becomes an instant icon in the world of graphic design.

Jessica Helfand
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto
07.08.05


William Drenttel
Maps of Cyberspace
05.30.05

It is the internet that has changed our perception of space, precisely because the sheer volume of interconnectivity is beyond our imagination, whether it be language-based, data-based, or community-based. Add black holes and photographs of asteroidal moons around Jupiter, and our world seems increasingly expansive. Yet, if we cannot map it, how can we understand it?

Michael Bierut
Me and My Pyramid
04.22.05

The redesign of the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid is neither satisfying nor nourishing from an information design point of view.

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.
Jessica Helfand
The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block
02.16.05

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.
The Editors
Understanding and Action
01.02.05


Jessica Helfand
Am I Blue
11.03.04

Bumper stickers and lawn posters aside, Americans showed their concern on election day 2004 by standing in epic lines at polling centers around the nation, but also in certain subtle, discreetly visual ways. From dressing in all blue (or red) to wearing "I voted today" buttons, there has been a kind of silent visual communication effort steadily in play for the last 36 hours.

William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician III
07.06.04


Michael Bierut
The Idealistic Corporation
06.16.04

American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.

William Drenttel
Learning from Las Vegas: The Book That (Still) Takes My Breath Away
05.05.04


Jessica Helfand
One Person, One Vote, One MRI?
04.20.04


Michael Bierut
Information Design and the Placebo Effect
02.28.04

It turns out that New York City is filled with buttons for pedestrians to activitate "Walk" signals at busy intersections that have never worked. Does pressing these useless buttons provide us with a sense that at least we're doing something?

William Drenttel
Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
02.05.04

Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.

William Drenttel
Uut, Uup and Away
02.04.04

What happens when we discover new elements, especially ones on the outer fringes of the periodic table? Where did Uut and Uup come from?

Michael Bierut
Errol Morris Blows Up Spreadsheet, Thousands Killed
12.17.03

Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara" demonstrates his mastery of information design as a poetic narrative device.

Michael Bierut
Mark Lombardi and the Ecstasy of Conspiracy
11.24.03

Artist Mark Lombardi's intricate handdrawn diagrams describing the relationships behind contemporary political and financial scandals are both beautiful objects and extraordinary feats of information design.

William Drenttel
Information Archaeology
11.06.03

Russ Kick is "a self-described 'information archaeologist...'" The revealing of state secrets through deconstructing a PDF.

William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician II
11.06.03

More on Edward Tufte and his critique of PowerPoint.

Jessica Helfand
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician I
09.26.03



Creative Opportunities
  • Twitter Facebook Google+
    Tumblr Pinterest RSS

    Design Observer
    social media à la carte
  • Newsletter signup

  • Design Jobs
    Observer Jobs Spotlight