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 | 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]

Well, it took four years…but the Library of Congress solved another Mystery Photo Contest entry! [BV]


Observed | March 27

When the SXSW Film Festival was cancelled, many filmmakers were left without a way to debut their work—so our friends at Mailchimp stepped in. Watch them all now. [JH]


Observed | March 24

The final lecture in the Walker Art Center’s Insights Design Lecture Series with Amsterdam-based designer Ruben Pater will be streamed live and for free on March 31. [JH]


Observed | March 23

British experience designers Bomoas and Parr launch The Fountain of Hygiene competition, calling for designers to propose new forms of hand-sanitizer pumps as well as more creative hygiene solutions. [JH]

Los Angeles-based artists Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre created an animated video (shot with a iphone) that uses matches to illustrate the impact of social distancing. [JH]


Observed | March 20

Emerging artists pay it forward during the health crisis by buying each other‘s work on Instagram. [JH]

Watch Charles and Ray Eames ‘Solar Do-Nothing Machine’ because ‘toys and games are the prelude to serious ideas’. [BV]

On this week’s New Yorker cover Christoph Niemann takes on the spread of the novel coronavirus, evoking a world in which the health of an individual and the health of the public seem, increasingly, to be interdependent. [BV]

“I can’t recall another time when a painting dominated headline news so incessantly; when the public came together to express love and hate for an artwork so passionately; or certainly, when curation was a nationwide discussion.” — George Millership on John William Waterhouse’s “Hylas and the Nymphs” [BV]


Observed | March 19

Graphic design for public health. [JH]


Observed | March 13

Seeing wonder in the small - looking at Ernst Haeckel found in his illustrations of microscopic life. [BV]


Observed | March 12

National Parks posters featuring quotes from one-star reviews. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

Property of Opaqueness is a collaborative dance performance by artist and choreographer Takahiro Yamamoto and is part of The Unknown Artist, an exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, curated by Lucy Cotter. [BV]


Observed | March 10

Photographer Larry Racioppo spent the ’90s capturing NYC’s makeshift streetball courts: ’the closer I looked, the more interesting they became. Many are really a form of folk art.’ [BV]


Observed | March 06

Friday afternoon eye candy (literally): Jonny Trunk’s book, Wrappers Delight, provides a window into classic sweet package design. [BV]


Observed | March 05

Process Music is the second Kenneth FitzGerald album (of writing) and so worthy of your support! [BV]

Erica Walker studies urban noise at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and her goal is to raise awareness about how constant sound is affecting people’s lives and health. (Spoiler: there’s a lot of noise and it’s not good.) [BV]


Observed | March 04

Do we need a completely new approach to marketing books? Part one of a thought-provoking series from Designers and Books. [BV]

Design fiction is a mix of science fact, design, and science fiction...it recombines the traditions of writing and storytelling with the material crafting of objects.” (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | March 03

Museums and the Duomo cathedral in Milan reopened Monday, but visitors are asked to stand three feet apart. [BV]

Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health is a symposium later this month at Yale School of Architecture that seeks to make designers and architects aware of their capacity to improve access to and perceptions of mental health. [BV]


Observed | February 26

The current NYC subway map is one of the most consulted in human history. In 1979 Michael Hertz, helped design it. He died last week at 87. [BV]

Why are music-streaming interfaces becoming visually indistinguishable? (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | February 21

Katie Holten has created a New York City Tree Alphabet. Each letter of the Latin alphabet is assigned a drawing of a tree from the NYC Parks Department’s existing native and non-native trees, as well as species that are to be planted as a result of the changing climate. For example, A = Ash. [BV]



Jobs | April 03