TV + Radio

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.

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Clive Owen in character by Dan Winters
Anatomy of a publicity picture

Steven Heller
American Reich
The Triumph of Graphic Design

Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Land, Rand, Mad Men
Michael and Jessica talk about a panel they participated in at the Paul Rand exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, plus the return of Mad Men and the fate of photography giants Kodak and Polaroid.

Betsy Vardell
Holiday Movies in Print: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Christmas in space-blazing color!

Debbie Millman
Liz Danzico
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Liz Danzico about writing and designing, life in NYC, and why it’s so important to keep learning (and re-learning).

Alex Knowlton
Miami Nice
Alex Knowlton reviews this year's ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design in Miami Beach.

The Wire Poster Project
"The Wire Poster Project" consists of 60 typographic posters, each one representing one of the 60 different epigrams preceding every episodes of HBO’s critically acclaimed series, The Wire.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Upgrade Yourself!
If appearances matter more than ever, as we are constantly told, the personal makeover has become our most fundamental design task.

Rick Poynor
The Irresistible Attraction of Self Storage
Self storage centers are places of private and public fascination and I always knew that one day I would succumb.

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.

Rob Walker
Focusing On ‘Optics’
Optics: The indispensible buzzword for those who analyze pseudo-events.

Alexandra Lange
The Critical Olympics
What the best sports commentary does is just like criticism: it makes you care about the previously abstract.

Michael Bierut
I Love the 80s
Miami Vice: the quintessential postmodern design artifact, in all its glory and all its disgrace.

The Architecture of Television
Brandi Roberts is an interior designer by training and TV afficionado by choice who draws fictional floorplans of classic television shows.

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

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

Alexandra Lange
Downton Abbey: Fell In Love With a House
Downton Abbey, for all its melodrama and dropped teacups, is really the story of falling in love with a house.

Rick Poynor
How We Learned to Live with Zombies
Zombie films, zombie walks, zombie shops, zombie TV series: our darkest fears are now mainstream.

Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Dickens the Magician
A selection of recorded broadcasts read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. The last of four installments.

Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Taking it on the Chin
A recorded broadcast read and authored by Ricky Jay — along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. The third of four installments.

Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Twins
Design Observer is pleased to share a selection of recorded broadcasts, all read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. This is the second of four installments.

Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Calculations
A recorded broadcast read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. First of four installments.

Alexandra Lange
The Uses of Cranks
Maybe comedy isn't Larry David's calling.

Laura Weiss
What We Can Learn from Project Runway
As 'Project Runway' launches its 9th season, a designer muses on what she's learned.

Jessica Helfand, and Marvin Heiferman
On the Shoulders of Midgets: A Conversation About Reality TV
A conversation about reality TV with Marvin Heiferman and Jessica Helfand.

Rick Poynor
A Dream World Made by Machines
Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a complex, demanding, audacious piece of television.

Michael Bierut
Seven Things Designers Can Learn from Stand Up Comics
Stand up comedy, a high-risk creative enterprise, has interesting lessons for designers.

Rob Walker
On Radiolab: the Sound of Science
“Radiolab,” a public radio show that breaks from public radio sensibilities, not least in its striking sound.

Alexandra Lange
NYT Opinionator: If These Walls Could Talk
ABC's Modern Family presents three different families, each defined by the design of their living rooms.

Alexandra Lange
If These Walls Could Talk
On the ABC sitcom Modern Family, three different families are visually defined by their living rooms.

Michael Bierut
Jerry Della Femina, Mad Men, and the Cult of Advertising Personality
A review of Jerry Della Femina’s From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor, published in a new edition on the occasion of the debut of the fourth season of the AMC series Mad Men.

Alexandra Lange
Hung Ceilings
Mad Men returns, and now it's time to speculate on the evolution of Peggy’s hair and the meaning of Betty’s dress choices

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.

Mark Lamster
Writer's Voice
My interview with Francesca Rheannon of NPR's Writer's Voice is now online.

Mark Lamster
Talking Rubens with Leonard Lopate
I'll be appearing on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show this afternoon.

Alexandra Lange
Playing House
The three living rooms on Modern Family are used as a structuring device, luing us into the character of each respective family.

Alexandra Lange
The Modernist State
Watch “Living Modern in Connecticut” tomorrow night at 9 on CPTV for a short history of modernism in Connecticut.

Alexandra Lange
Word on the Street
We have begun a bit of a study of Sesame Street in our house.

Alexandra Lange
Kicking Down the Door
While I love Mad Men, season 3 was not my favorite.

Mark Lamster
The Shadow Master — Live on Halloween Eve
I'll be discussing the original Shadow Master, Peter Paul Rubens, on the John Batchelor Show.

Alexandra Lange
Buy It Now
I watched two episodes of the Sundance Channel’s new advertisement for Anthropologie, Man Shops Globe, and failed to be caught up in the drama.

Alexandra Lange
The Ladies' Paradise
In “Souvenir,” Mad Men welcomes back Joan, looking lovely.

Alexandra Lange
On the Grid
Mad Men makes use of grids, mixing them with bronze fronds and Harry Bertoia sculpture.

Alexandra Lange
The Tigertones
I was thrilled by the metion of the Tigertones in this week's episode of Mad Men.

Alexandra Lange
Suspended Animation
Thirtysomething isn't exactly how I rembered it.

Alexandra Lange
Shiny and New
On this week's Mad Men, three words I never thought I would hear on a dramatic television show: Ada Louise Huxtable.

Alexandra Lange
If You Can't Say Something Nice...
A contestant's dress on Project Runway looks no worse than Escada.

Alexandra Lange
Rearranging the Deck Chairs
I've been thinking about the third season of Mad Men in terms of furniture.

Alexandra Lange
Though the BBC teen series Skins isn't boring, I find it icky. Too much sweat, too much drugs, too much barf, too much nudity.

Alexandra Lange
People in New Houses...
Why is every episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey set at an overdecorated Italian restaurant with a large parking lot?

Alexandra Lange
Aloysius is Missed
I took my chances to see if the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited was as good as the multi-part original.

Alexandra Lange
Lost Loves
It's slowly dawned on me that the lead character of many shows — Sex in the City, Weeds, The West Wing — is actually grating.

Alexandra Lange
Dickens is Funny
In the best BBC adaptation of the last five years, Bleak House, Gillian Anderson gives a performance that should wipe Agent Scully permanently from the public mind.

Alexandra Lange
Evil Ms
A fair number of journalists have mentioned the odd parallelism of the fall of the House of Merdle in Little Dorrit, and the real-life fall of the House of Bernard Madoff.

Alexandra Lange
After watching all of the excellent contemporary TV shows, we are back to BBC with The Way We Live Now and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Mark Lamster
How We Decide
In the latest episode of CBC's WireTap, "The Deciders," host Jonathan Goldstein walks me through one of those difficult decisions we all are faced with at some point: Should I go to the doctor?

Mark Lamster
Fishin' for Glory
The King of Kvetch takes to the airwaves tomorrow; I'll be appearing on the latest episode of Jonathan Goldstein's brilliant radio program Wiretap, on the CBC.

Steven Heller
That Pesky Television Test Pattern
What came first, television or the television test pattern? The origin of the pattern is a story of form following function. Aesthetics were irrelevant to the primary purpose, and the technical draftsmen who anonymously designed it could have never predicted that decades later it would become a nostalgic icon.

Mark Lamster
If the Wire Cast Was a Football Team
The Baltimore Ravens look pretty formidable going into the AFC Championship game, but I wonder if this squad from Charm City could give them a run for their money.

Chris Pullman
What I've Learned
After 35 years working for the same company, WGBH in Boston, legendary design director Chris Pullman reveals the ten things he learned.

Michael Bierut
The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman
For over 40 years, Lou Dorfsman designed everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. Getting great work done in giant institution is supposed to be hard. How did he make it look easy?

Michael Bierut
Mad Men: Pitch Perfect
AMC’s ad agency drama Mad Men, from the producer of the Sopranos, is beginning its second season. Like The Sopranos, the show finds human drama in an unexpected setting. And where The Sopranos had whackings, Mad Men has client presentations.

William Drenttel
I Was A Mad Man
Mad Men takes place in 1960. Just seventeen years later, I went to work at an ad agency and became a Mad Man. This is my story...

Nichelle Narcisi
Except You
Nichelle Narcisi, winner of last month's Command X competition at the AIGA Next Conference in Denver, presents "Except You," her proposed campaign to raise the voter participation rate for 18 to 24 year olds.

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.

Rob Walker
TV Land
Buying, selling, updating, restoring and “flipping” for quick profits — it all ran together, but I watched even when I couldn’t remember if the title of a certain show was “Flip This House” or “Flip That House.”

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism

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

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
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
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."

Adrian Shaughnessy
The Designer as Buffoon
The "Designer as Buffoon" phenomenon can be seen in two big-budget, prime-time advertising campaigns currently showing on British television. Both Ford and Ikea are promoting their respective products by offering us pumped-up caricatures of designers and inviting us to guffaw at them.

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.

Dmitri Siegel
Mysterious Disappearance of Carol Hersee
The story of Carol Hersee's portrait as Test Card F: since it first appeared in 1967 on BBC2, Carol's face has been on-air for over 70,000 hours.

Jessica Helfand
Donald Trump, Art Director: Not The Real Thing
Not until now has Pepsi opened itself up to a public makeover on national television, a redesign in the hands of a smattering of aspiring capitalists, a group whose combined knowledge of design principles might be characterized as, dare I say it — negligible.

Jessica Helfand
Time Waits for No Fan

Jessica Helfand
Graphic Flanerie
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.

Jessica Helfand
You're Going to Hollywood, Baby

Jessica Helfand
Implausible Fictions
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?

Observed | October 21

More on ballot design and its many problems. [JH]

Design is the new currency. [JH]

If Hillary is elected, “’re going to have taco trucks on every corner”, warned Latinos for Trump’s Marco Gutierrez. Lana Rigby designs a citywide fleet of taco trucks that double as voter registration booths. [JH]

“Design is the art and science of improving the interface between human beings and their environment.” A new design incubator at MIT. [JH]

Observed | October 20

“Ignore the fads and go back to the typographic principles of print — keep your type black,” says Kevin Marks. More from Cory Doctorow on the web’s “plague” of grey type. [JH]

The Wall Street Journal on design books as eye candy. [JH]

The New Yorker on urban housing, inequality, density, democracy—and Le Corbusier. [JH]

Observed | October 18

Could bad buildings damage your mental health? [MB]

Dutch Design Week! Here’s the program. [JH]

Observed | October 17

Wine labels—and how their design impacts what we want to buy. [JH]

From India, a story on design mistakes for startups. [JH]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre (“Theory of Colors”), 1810. [MB]

A call to action for design justice. [JH]

The eerie secret apartments of the New York Public Library system [MB]

“Not knowing what you’re doing is a skill you can’t teach.” An interview with Richard Turley (ex-Businessweek, ex-MTV) on his move to Wieden+Kennedy. [MB]

Observed | October 14

“How do you approach an art empty of figures and evident narratives?,” asks New York Times art critic Holland Cotter, writing about the late minimalist painter Agnes Martin. "How do you find out what, if anything, is in it for you? What do you do to make it your own?” To which Martin herself was known to reply: “You go there and sit and look.” A retrospective of Martin’s work is on view at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through early January. [JH]

Magenta debuts! A new online source for design, cultural criticism, and more. [JH]

David Bowie had a vast collection of Memphis furniture. [MB]

Observed | October 13

Non-car designer designs non-car. [JH]

Democratic design—between cultures. [JH]

A day in the life of Tobias Frere-Jones. [MB]

Louise Fili, Goddess of typographic splendor! [JH]

Observed | October 12

Ice cream! Complimentary slippers! And design awards for a check-in counter! Highlights of service design for those traveling to (and from) Japan. [JH]

Philanthropists donate 8.1 billion for a new design center at Colorado State University. [JH]

Can happiness be designed? More evidence pointing to the fact that this is possible. (Bear in mind that “design” is used rather loosely, here—but is strategically positioned as an antidote to technology.) [JH]

Spy is back! [MB]

In a landmark patent case, Supreme Court Justices use Volkswagen Beetle as cultural shorthand for design brilliance. [JH]

Observed | October 11

Design in the age of globalization: what China does. [JH]

Today—for the first time in over a century—a design case reaches the Supreme Court. NPR reports. More from Reuters and from Bloomberg. [JH]

Mexican polymath Gabriel Orozco branches out—literally—into horticulture. [JH]

Jobs | October 21