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 | September 16

Eye candy? (Eye dairy?) Behold: the Barcelona Butter Chair! [JH]

A new exhibit at the Victoria & Albert museum reveals what objects people choose to repair—and how they want them fixed. [BV] []


Observed | September 09

NYC is looking for volunteer artists to paint its garbage trucks. [JH]

Dezeen announces the 2022 award winners. [JH]

Artificial intelligence in the service of ... the skyscraper? [JH]

The Smithsonian announces the winners of the National Design Award. [JH]

Wellness—for designers. [JH] []


Observed | August 13

Dizzying discs and obscene wordplay—revisiting Marcel Duchamp’s 1926 film debut. [BV]

For Ben Watson, who leads MillerKnoll, every great designer is an optimist. [JH]

Tina Charad—a Los Angeles-based South African by way of Britain—on the challenges of graphic in film. [JH]

Entertainment for the dog days of August: Focukups are digital mockups that show your work in, um, real conditions. [JH] []


Observed | July 29

Conceptual magazine covers, and why they matter. [JH] []


Observed | July 22

Deem is a design journal established upon the notion that design is fundamentally a shared experience that adds value to communities. [JH]

Fast Company shares its favorite design books of summer. [JH]

Design and surrealism, an exhibition at the London Design Museum. [JH]

Claes Oldenberg, the Swedish-born American Pop artist known for his monumental sculptures of everyday objects, has died. He was 93. [JH]

Manuhuia Barcham, Managing Director, Archetekt, will be the next head of the AIGA Board of Directors. [JH] []


Observed | July 15

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About (Design And) Sex But Were Afraid To Ask. [JH]

“He’s even branched out into graphic design himself, with a little help from Naoto Fukasawa, in a bizarre collaboration that has yet to see the light of day.” Kanye West does design. (And doesn’t.) [JH]

Sreoshy Banerjea has been appointed by Mayor Eric Adams as the next Executive Director of the New York City Public Design Commission. [JH]

“He’s not just a designer,” Steve Jobs once said of Jonathan Ive, then-design director at Apple. “He has more operational power than anyone at Apple, except me.” [JH] []


Observed | July 08

The American designer Arnold Skolnick who—Inspired by Matisse’s cutouts—created the iconic Woodstock poster in 1969, has died. He was 85. [JH]

Where graphic design meets architecture: Thonik’s new studio, in Amsterdam. [JH]

Marcus Fairs, the founder and editor-in-chief of Dezeen, has died. The well-known design journalist was 54. [JH]

2022 SEGD Award winners announced. [JH] []


Observed | June 17

Molly Young reviews Alexandra Lange’s new book, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall. (Read an excerpt here.) [JH]

Can you quantify creativity? [JH]

Zimbabwean born designer, visual artist, and educator Nontsikelelo Mutiti has been appointed the next Director of Graduate Studies in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. [JH] []


Observed | June 03

A critique of poster design goes viral. [JH]

Colin Forbes—who, with Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Mervyn Kurlansky and Kenneth Grange co-founded the international design firm, Pentagram, in the early 1970s—has died at 94. [JH]

Are school shootings a design problem? Texas Senator Ted Cruz thinks so. [JH]]

In the United States, there are five requirements for design patentability. Do you know what they are? [JH]

Italian design legend Riccardo Falcinelli on design philosophy—and reality. [JH]

Read It And Weep Department: Just when you thought a more diverse cast of characters (think women and people of color, for starters) might actually be on their way to getting some long-overdue airtime, Austrian brothers Jono and Benji Bergmann release a film on ... Bruce Mau! [JH] []


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] []



Jobs | September 27