Books



Culture is Not Always Popular

Culture is Not Always Popular

Founded in 2003, Design Observer inscribes its mission on its homepage: Writings about Design and Culture. Since our inception, the site has consistently embraced a broader, more interdisciplinary, and circumspect view of design's value in the world―one not limited by materialism, trends, or the slipperiness of style. Fifteen years, 6,700 articles, 900 authors, and nearly 30,000 comments later, this book is a combination primer, celebration, survey, and salute to a certain moment in online culture.



Observer Quarterly

Observer Quarterly

In the winter of 2015, we launched a new publication called Observer Quarterly. The idea is for each themed issue to include original writing, interviews, and photography alongside archival material that draws a narrative between the history and current condition of new and underappreciated aspects of design culture. Our first issue—the Acoustic Issue—covered new ways of looking at sound as part of the design landscape. The second issue examined tagging as a social, cultural, and indexical practice. And our newest issue—following our conference, Taste, which took place in Los Angeles in the spring of 2016—looks at the multiple intersections between design and food.



Observer Quarterly

Design | The Invention of Desire

Advancing a conversation that is unfolding around the globe, Jessica Helfand offers an eye-opening look at how designed things make us feel as well as how—and why—they motivate our behavior.

More books by Jessica Helfand




How To

How to

How to, Michael Bierut’s first career retrospective, is a landmark work in the field. Featuring more than thirty-five of his projects, it reveals his philosophy of graphic design—how to use it to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world. Specially chosen to illustrate the breadth and reach of graphic design today, each entry demonstrates Bierut’s eclectic approach. In his entertaining voice, the artist walks us through each from start to finish, mixing historic images, preliminary drawings (including full-size reproductions of the notebooks he has maintained for more than thirty-five years), working models and rejected alternatives, as well as the finished work. Throughout, he provides insights into the creative process, his working life, his relationship with clients, and the struggles that any design professional faces in bringing innovative ideas to the world. Offering insight and inspiration for artists, designers, students, and anyone interested in how words, images, and ideas can be put together, How to provides insight to the design process of one of this century’s most renowned creative minds.

More books by Michael Bierut




5050

50 Books | 50 Covers Catalog

The ultimate “book of books” to catalog the 2015 winners of the 50 | 50 competition. Publisher, author, and previous 50 Books | 50 Covers recipient Dave Eggers introduces the book. Photographer George Baier IV, who has photographed countless authors and book jacket projects himself, has thoughtfully taken pictures of every book and cover winner. Mohawk generously donated the finest paper. Printed offset, locally, here in the United States. Copies no longer available.



Observer Quarterly

Massimo Vignelli: Collected Writings

Massimo Vignelli (1931–2014) was one of the most influential designers of the twentieth—and twenty-first—centuries. The work he and his wife Lella accomplished at Vignelli Associates is universally admired. While Massimo himself never wrote for Design Observer, he appeared throughout its pages in spirit and as an example for over ten years. This collection of writings about Vignelli from the Design Observer archives—interviews, memories, observations, and critiques—includes selections from the lively comments and discussions that appeared after the original publication of these pieces. Contributors include Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand, Debbie Millman, and Alice Twemlow, among others. Get this book!



Persistence of Vision

Persistence of Vision: Collected Writings of William Drenttel

Designer and publisherWilliam Drenttel (1953–2013) was co-founder and editorial director of Design Observer. Since its inception in 2003, Drenttel contributed to Design Observer almost weekly on all manner of topics, from social change to democracy to his early career on Madison Avenue. We’ve collected two dozen essays—originally published on Design Observer—and an introduction by friend and former literary editor of the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier, and put them into print for the first time, including the lively comments and conversations that followed their original publication. Persistence of Vision is not only a tribute to a greatly missed design leader, but serves as an important addition to the design writing canon. Get this book!


The Design Observer Cooperative

Observed | June 01

For the Army Corps of Engineers in 1944, Harold Fisk created extraordinarily beautiful maps of the changing Mississippi River over time. [MB]


Observed | May 29

A brilliant and timely design exploration: Alexandra Bell disrupts perception by rewriting headlines. (Via Lana Rigsby.) [JH]


Observed | May 28

The new book from Scott Berkun, How Design Makes the World, “will help you see design everywhere and question why it works—or why it fails.”—Ellen Lupton. Watch the trailer. [BV]


Observed | May 27

Kate Wagner at McMansionHell on the rise of Coronagrifting: “cheap mockups of COVID-related design ‘solutions’ filling the endlessly scrollable feeds of PR-beholden design websites” [MB]


Observed | May 21

Former Design of Business | Business of Design podcast guest David Rockwell creates a kit for instant outdoor restaurant dining. [MB]


Observed | May 20

Floodwaters threaten Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. [MB]


Observed | May 19

A map featuring the 222 typefaces named for American places. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | May 15

Matteo Zallio, a design research scholar from Stanford, has developed a multipurpose tool as an open source response to COVID-19 outbreaks.. [BV]


Observed | May 14

Seven artists on how creating during the quarantine is helping them find solace and meaning in this period of uncertainty and paralyzing anxiety. [BV]


Observed | May 06

On the Detroit City of Design Podcast, Jessica Helfand points to curiosity and agile thinking as a resource for creativity. [BV]


Observed | May 04

How poster artist Randy Tuten inducted Led Zeppelin into the Avocado Club. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | April 27

Is the NYC subway system being unfairly blamed for spreading COVID-19? [MB]


Observed | April 24

Is minimalism the punch line to some joke we haven‘t heard yet, but are about to? [JH]


Observed | April 21

The Great Pottery Throw Down is the feel-good home and design show we need right now. It‘s chill, creative, and educational (with a tiny side of drama). [BV]


Observed | April 20

Shepard Fairey collaborates with Adobe to make a new series of posters celebrating the medical first-responders on the front lines during Covid-19. [JH]


Observed | April 17

How tape is remaking the urban landscape in Singapore. (via Daniel Benneworth-Gray) [BE]


Observed | April 16

The #BestNYAccent challenge on Instagram from Nicolas Heller, answers the question: How does a New Yawker tawk? (via Steven Heller) [BV]


Observed | April 15

The New York City underground punk scene is alive and well and living in color. [BV]

An interview with Farrar, Straus and Giroux Art Director, Na Kim. (Via Mike Errico.) [JH]


Observed | April 14

A beautiful and hypnotic social distancing commercial for the Ohio Department of Heath, directed by Andy Nick of Dayton‘s Real Art agency [MB]

On the occasion of its 50th birthday, The New York Times traces the history of the Rolling Stones’ logo. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | April 08

When Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick suggested sacrificing Texans to the pandemic in order to save the economy, Alex Rich, a data scientist, teamed up with a data visualization friend to create a tool that maps your location to locally confirmed cases. [JH]


Observed | April 07

A college student—with help from her mom—makes masks made for the deaf and hard of hearing community. [JH]

The UN and World Health Organization are looking for designs that informs the public about coronavirus. [JH]


Observed | April 03

Can computer chips design themselves? [JH]

From Frasier to Veep: Imagining your favorite television characters in a pandemic. [JH]


Observed | April 02

NASA’s “Worm” logo has returned! But the sad old “Meatball” remains the primary mark. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

Annals of virus visualization: Center for Disease Control designers create branding coordinated to work with the now-iconic illustration. [JH]


Observed | April 01

Mad Max meets Little House on the Prairie: how to make your own face mask. [JH]


Observed | March 31

Michael Sorkin’s list of two hundred fifty things every architect should know. [BV]



Jobs | June 02