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!



Observed | March 20

From Tristram Shandy to black holes, from Coco Chanel to Johnny Cash, from Francisco Goya to Mark Rothko: Ten ways to look at the color black. [BV]

With storage spaces filled with works that may never be shown, some museums are rethinking the way they collect art, and at least one is ranking what it owns. [BV]


Observed | March 19

In response to last week’s Christcurch mosque shootings, Meena Kadri teamed up with her former Māori language teacher Te Ataahia Castorina to compile a set of Māori words + English translations celebrating unity. If you learn and share 10 Māori words this week, make it these. [BV]


Observed | March 18

Journey back to a time when serifs were Antique, sans serifs were Grotesque, and extra bold faces were Fat. [BV]

“A six-year-old could have drawn that logo!” Well, in this case, he did. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | March 15

Street art used to be the voice of the people. Now it’s the voice of advertisers. [BV]

Scientists have not kept pace with the work of discovering new species. Now, a growing number of committed hobbyists – ranging from a Belgian bus driver to a California cybersecurity expert – are out in the field, igniting a boom in documenting the world’s biodiversity. [BV]


Observed | March 14

In a week where the transportation department is facing some of its most pointed criticism, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao wants to speed the commercial adoption of untested technologies like driverless vehicles and hyperloops—without addressing the dramatic, necessary changes needed today. [BV]

In 1927, the Italian Futurist artist and designer Fortunato Depero created a monograph of his work unlike any book that had been seen before. Called Depero Futurista, or “Depero the Futurist,” it is also known as The Bolted Book, because it is famously bound together by two large industrial aluminum bolts. And you can have an exact replica! [BV]


Observed | March 13

Olympic Games sport pictograms were first introduced at the Tokyo 1964 Games, and have been a part of the games ever since. The Tokyo 2020 pictograms were designed by Masaaki Hiromura who “tried to express the dynamic beauty of the athletes through these pictograms, while respecting the legacy bequeathed by the pioneers of the Japanese design industry in their designs for the Tokyo 1964 Games.” [BV]


Observed | March 12

Our collective wisdom is perhaps one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments ... this is because people—no matter where they are, no matter from where they come—possess intrinsic curiosity, creative souls and inquiring minds. [JH]


Observed | March 11

Art powered by disability: ‘I fear being trapped in the statue of my own body, whilst my mind gazes out.’ [BV]

A grand collection of the tiniest of books — 950 of them — is now on display at the Grolier Club in New York City. [BV]


Observed | March 08

Neighborhood Golf Association, a new film from Nicolas Heller, highlights “Tiger Hood”, a NYC photographer who created a street version of golf to help pass the time while he sold his work. [BV]


Observed | March 07

Reckoning with design’s role in the production of more and more objects and more and more waste. [BV]

Net neutrality gets a power-up! [BV]


Observed | March 06

The Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to DTLA next Wednesday at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. 24 outstanding films are on the schedule. [BV]

‘A Sense of Place’ is a graphic art project that reveals how places can develop deeply felt strong identities and culture and includes an interview with the lovely Debbie Millman. [BV]


Observed | March 05

Out today from Penguin Random House: Follow This Thread. A twisting journey through the world of mazes, real and imagined, unraveling our ancient, abiding relationship with them and exploring why they continue to fascinate us. [BV]

A wildly popular mobile game allows users to decorate virtual spaces with real-life (and easily purchasable) furniture. It’s the future of advertising—but what does ‘Design Home’ say about the future of the people who play it? [BV]


Observed | March 04

The scion of a storied Amsterdam family rediscovered Rembrandt paintings that lead to an art-world feud. [BV]

Artist Katie Holten has created a New York City Tree Alphabet. (A is for Ash, B for Birch...) She’s encouraging people to download the free font and create tree messages that will be planted with live trees this spring. [BV]


Observed | February 28

A flip through Playboy France reveals experimental layouts, an innovative use of typefaces, and, a design direction that can absolutely be described as “tasteful.” It’s more about typography than titties. [BV]


Observed | February 27

Underwater photographer of the year awards announced. The winners don’t disappoint! [BV]


Observed | February 26

Saint Louis designers celebrate America’s 60th National Park through typographic focused posters. Type Hike, started by designers James Walker and David Rygiol, continue their type-focused collaborative nonprofit with their 5th installment, ARCH. Vote for your favorite poster here through March 24. (via John Foster) [BV]


Observed | February 25

An argument against modern architecture. [BV]

When the %$#@! did we start to use obscenicons? Belive it or not, as early as 1901. [BV]


Observed | February 21

Science answers the age old question: Why does a grape turns into a fireball in a microwave? [BV]


Observed | February 20

The Sunset Strip occupies a short stretch of Sunset Boulevard, but its reputation as a stomping ground of gangsters, glamour girls, rock stars and hell-raisers has held an oversized fascination for decades. Curbed LA dives deep. Part One. Part Two. [BV]

Should historic logos be protected in the same way as historic buildings? (via James I. Bowie) [BV]



Jobs | March 22