Celebrate 50 Books | 50 Covers at Future Perfect: What’s next in book design

50 Books | 50 Covers

We don’t have a magic eight ball, but we do have four epic book designers to help us predict the future.

Date: September 14, 2017
Time: 4:00pm
Place: The Scholastic Auditorium at 557 Broadway, New York City (between Spring and Prince)
Registration: RSVP list is full. Registration is closed.

Design Observer and AIGA Design Archives invite you to celebrate the current 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2016 winners, and discuss the future of book design. We'll start the afternoon with a recognition of the winning work, then enjoy a lively panel discussion with Barbara Glauber, Juliette Cezzar, Brian LaRossa, Joan Wong, and more, all followed by a reception.

We would like to thank The Scholastic Design Forum for hosting this event.

Established in 1923 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as “Fifty Books of the Year” and re-branded in 1995 as 50 Books | 50 Covers, the competition is now the longest continually running design competition in the United States.

The books will become part of the AIGA collection at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University’s Butler Library and at the Robert Haas Arts Library at Yale University. Selections are included in the AIGA Design Archives, a searchable database of historical images documenting nearly 100 years of design excellence from this time-honored tradition.

The call for entries for “50 Books | 50 Covers of 2017” will be announced late this year.

Observed | April 29

Creatives for Ukraine, an open platform with over one thousand digital artworks submitted showing solidarity with Ukraine. [BV]

Trained as an Industrial designer at Notre Dame, Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow takes on the GOP. [JH]

Yup. [JH]

Designers! They’re just like us! “Grey’s friend Jamie Lee Curtis helped design the cover of Out of the Corner, using what she described in a phone interview as “D.I.Y. photoshop phone app skills.” [JH] []


Observed | April 26

Award-winning American artist and illustrator, Marshall Arisman, has died at 83. Steve Heller’s tribute is here. [JH] []


Observed | April 08

Kevin Lippert, the founder of Princeton Architectural Press, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 63. [JH]

Forbes offers “graphic design on a budget” advise—in the name of leadership. [JH]

The saga to redesign Rhode Island’s license plate continues, with design educators weighing in. [JH]

An early Easter gift for a grateful librarian: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, long missing, mysteriously returned! (Via Jen Renninger) [JH]

Educator, artist, activist and civil rights era photographer Doris Derby has died. She was 82. [JH] []


Observed | March 18

MIT announces The Morningside Academy for Design, a new hub for cross-disciplinary education, research, and innovation across the design professions, and which will be housed at the School of Architecture and Planning. [JH]

Karen Hoffman, a seasoned educator and industrial designer, is named the next President of ArtCenter, in California. She will be the first female president in the college’s ninety-year history. [JH] []


Observed | March 11

The 2020 National Security Law, slogans, and the art of the pictogram: a thread on Twitter. (via Blake Eskin.) [JH]

Owning the apple—one logo at a time. [JH] []


Observed | March 04

Emeline King, Ford’s first black female transportation designer, has a few things to say about trailblazing. [JH] []


Observed | February 25

The value of well-designed work. [JH]

In Berlin: Konstantin Grcic on design, function, and the new normal. [JH]

How to design a bike lane. [JH] []


Observed | February 11

A love letter to Garamond. [JH]

Maria Nicanor is appointed director of the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York.[JH] []


Observed | January 28

An extraordinary list of speakers just announced for the State of Black Design conference, at Texas State University. (h/t Rebecca Breuer) [JH]

When design fails—according to Reddit users. [JH]

When Build Back Better becomes Design Back Better: a speculative scenario for employee retention, one “innovation space” at a time. [JH] []


Observed | January 21

How a design museum unearthed a treasure trove of classic Slovak games. [JH]

“Someone out there ... came up with the emoji grid as a spoiler-free way of sharing her results with other people.” Josh Wardle, creator of the internet word game Wordle, on the game’s minimalist design. (via Blake Eskin) [JH]

In other design news, the green M&M has been redesigned so that she will be “better represented to reflect confidence and empowerment, as a strong female, and known for much more than her boots.” (via Jeffrey Kittay.) [JH]

Colgate’s designers have spent more than five years redesigning their toothpaste tubes so they can be recycled in curbside bins. [JH] []


Observed | January 14

Cooper Union is looking for a new architecture dean. [JH]

In a year of cancelled film and theatrical productions all over the world, production design gets a nice shout-out. [JH]

Meet the woman preserving 125 years of black history in Baltimore. [BV] []


Observed | January 07

“It seems to me that designers, bringing evermore astonishing prowess to bear, too often outshine the work they are meant to support.” Another pitch-perfect review by Jesse Green. [JH]

Design and the Chinese bookstore: a saga! (h/t to Jen Renninger) [JH]

From Mad magazine to B-Movies: An Oral History of Beastie Boys’ Artwork. [BV] []


Observed | December 30

Book jackets as optical echoes. [JH]

Design and Healing, a new exhibition at Cooper Hewitt in New York, “helps us appreciate optimism amid hopelessness, and celebrates extraordinary accomplishments under duress”. [JH]

The long read: Craig L. Wilkins on the questionable role of the architectural biennial. [JH]

Why is a typeface named Jim Crow? (via Mike Errico.) [JH] []


Observed | December 23

“It’s something that should have been caught in the design phase.” [JH]

A beautiful roundup of forty years of MTV logos, from our friends at It’s Nice That. [JH]

Broken covers: Steve Goldman puts the world’s worst album art on show.[BV] []


Observed | December 17

Redesigning the euro—by 2024! [JH]

Brad Pitt, design obsessive, takes on his latest project, in France. [JH]

Design at Apple in the post-Jony Ive era. [JH]

We normally avoid any incoming news item labeled “trends to watch” but there are actually some lovely things in here. ’Tis the season to look at ... beer labels! [JH]

La Patria is a robust online archive of Uruguayan design that includes posters, postage stamps. book and record covers, and more. [JH] []


Observed | December 10

Design and traffic. [JH]

In Ghana, a model for design, education, community—and sustainability. [JH]

Insecure—the acclaimed HBO series—makes costume design history. [JH]

Ritesh Gupta launches Useful School, a pay-what-you-can online design curriculum for people of color. [BV]

Spotify Wrapped: a design-cautionary tale. [JH] []


Observed | November 26

Dave Hickey, the author of Air Guitar and The Invisible Dragon, has died. The influential art and cultural critic was 82. [JH]

Rethinking design—as a transformative catalyst for change—in the circular economy. [JH] []


Observed | November 15

Bob Gill, “bomb-throwing revolutionary”“, “polemicist”, and, yes, the important and influential graphic designer, dies at 90. [JH]

Who designs the city? A compelling, inclusive, and actionable inquiry. [JH]

All hail the mighty ... typewriter! [JH] []


Observed | November 12

Periplus* Workshops, offers a new and unique opportunity for emerging designers to respond to nature in the rural and ancient Mani Region, near Kalamata, in Greece. [JH]

A new retrospective of Barbara Kruger’s “endlessly hashtaggable” work opens at the Art Institute of Chicago. [JH] []


Observed | November 05

Inspired? Revolutionary? Or just batshit crazy? A consulting architect on a proposed new dormitory at the University of California Santa Barbara claims its design premise is "unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being". [JH]

If you think you’re not part of this well-oiled machine of excess—and its dark underbelly—you’re wrong. (Don’t miss the Swedish teapot man.) [JH] []


Observed | October 29

Black students make up only 9% of enrollment at 96 schools teaching art and design in the United States. But thanks to D’Wayne Edwards, that is about to change. [JH]

At just 61 years old, Nigeria is still an emerging nation—and it’s a hotbed of design. [JH]

Humor, art, activism: discuss amongst yourselves. [JH]

What do the words “design” and “delicatessen” have in common? You’re about to find out! [JH] []


Observed | October 26

Graphic designers will swoon to see Ricky Jay’s collection, which will be auctioned this week at Sotheby’s in New York. [JH] []


Observed | October 22

Elizabeth Diller interprets Edmund de Waal’s book, “The Hare With Amber Eyes” as a cabinet of curiosities. The exhibition opens at The Jewish Museum in New York on November 19. [JH] []


Observed | October 15

Karim Rashid opines on the harsher realities of a life in design. [JH]

Richard Schultz, American pioneer of modernist furniture, dies at 95. [JH]

Pixar movies, and the subtleties of dystopian cities. [JH]

In celebration of their relaunch Print magazine comissioned a wonderful video that you should watch. [BV] []


Observed | October 01

Adnan Lotia recreates iconic album covers with ... Lego. [JH]

Designers Verònica Fuerte and Sebastián Londoño turn circles into an international design language. [JH]

Jim Jarmusch, collage artist. [JH]

Posted without comment. [JH] []


Observed | September 24

For the ABC Science series Phenomena, the Australian artist and filmmaker Josef Gatti collaborated with the Australian composer Kim Moyes for an amalgamation of art and science exploring ‘naturally occurring patterns, and the fundamental forces of nature that create them’. [BV]

Jack Kerouac, book designer. [JH]

An exquisite memorial by the American artist Suzanne Firstenberg. [JH]

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Observed | September 17

From Aunt Jemima to AI, How Racism Creeps Into Design: an insightful video from Bloomberg Equality. [JH]

The 40 winners of this year’s Posterheroes Becoming e-Quals competition have been announced. Congrats to all! [BV]

German artist Max Hattler finds inspiration in the immense size, muted colors, and relentless repetition of the facades of Hong Kong’s apartment high-rises. [BV]

Swatch Bharat—online collections of Indian native aesthetics, created to preserve artifacts disappearing due to globalization—has completed their eighth collection. Get inspired![BV] []


Observed | September 10

Rachel Berger’s Shooter Box—an exhibition protesting the United States military’s use of Microsoft Xbox controllers as battle equipment—now on view at California College of the Arts. [JH]

Pantone No. 1837, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a conspiracy theory about art and commerce. [JH]

Designing a better airport. [JH]

Revisiting a seminal guerilla signage project, twenty years later. [JH] []


Observed | September 03

Everyone’s a (design) critic! The internet goes wild—not in a good way—for the cover art “design” for Drake’s new album. [JH]

A new graphic novel on censorship—from MITPress—gathers insights and highlights from a profession under attack. [JH]

Rebranding Chernobyl with a logo that decays over time. (Via Michael Bierut.) [JH]

Today we chase after information, without gaining knowledge. We take note of everything, without gaining insight. We communicate constantly, without participating in a community... This is how information develops a lifeform: inexistent and impermanent. [JH] []


Observed | August 27

A spectacularly researched—and meticulously produced—history of design and visual culture in Louisiana. (Via Nancy Sharon Collins.) [JH]

Alan Heller, who collaborated with Mario Bellini, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, and others to produce memorable objects in plastic, dies at 81. [JH]

Originally located in Marshall Field’s unused 1905 South Prairie Avenue mansion, The New Bauhaus school opened its doors on October 18, 1937. Bauhäusler László Moholy-Nagy, director, began to shape the original Bauhaus curriculum to suit his purposes. Gone were the craft-based distinctions that helped enforce gendered segregation and discrimination in the German workshops. An in-depth look at the founding of American Bauhaus. [BV]

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Jobs | May 26