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 | May 23

From Atlas Obscura: 18 of the world’s most wondrous public transportation options. [BV]

Iceland’s environmental ministry says Justin and his Belibers have nearly ruined Fjadrárgljúfur canyon. But even for the non-famous, selfies are ruining national parks and the great outdoors around the world. Go outside but leave your phones at home. [BV]


Observed | May 22

How do you create a logo for a presidential candidate? On this week‘s The West Wing Weekly: West Wing & fonts. The guests are our co-founder Michael Bierut, who designed Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 logo, and Leslie Wah, who made the campaign logos in Season 6 of the West Wing. [BV]


Observed | May 21

Wanna play with some Brutalist buildings? Skyline chess has a new offering of London’s most-notable architecture from the Brutalist movement including the Trellick Tower, Petty France, Centrepoint and Cromwell Tower. [BV]

Design Observer co-founder @jessicahelfand is heading to Malta this week as an external critic working with Professor Vince Briffa, recipient of the Tribute to Art and Innovation award at this year’s Venice Biennale. [BV]


Observed | May 20

Book lovers will want to pay close attention to a new collaboration between Designers & Books and Peter Kraus’s Ursus Books & Gallery in New York. This installment: A Flowering of Creativity: Ladislav Sutnar and F. T. Marinetti. [BV]


Observed | May 15

We can‘t wait to explore Boston this fall when we host The Design of Business | The Business of Design conference at MIT. Bike-commuting, T-riding, and monorail-tweeting around Boston with transit-oriented 20-something NUMTOT founder Juliet Eldred. [BV]


Observed | May 14

What year is it? Why does it matter? While chronology and dating might not be exciting, they are the stuff that history is made on, for dates do two things: they allow things to happen only once, and they insist on the ordering and interrelation of all happenings. [BV]

“We should not be excessively interested in books”, wrote Roy Gold, biblio-graffiti outsider artist, and a bookish man. [BV]


Observed | May 13

You may not love sports, but it’s hard not to enjoy sports photography, especially for it’s innovativeness. Case in point: Sports Illustrated photographer Neil Leifer hit a grand slam when he set out to capture a double play on film. [BV]


Observed | May 10

In the 1950s and 1960s artists from the Soviet Union looked to the skies and foresaw a Utopia in space. [BV]


Observed | May 09

Early cinema is often remembered as an exclusively black-and-white affair—the bold and often fantastical colors that flickered across the earliest film reels are frequently left out of our greater cinematic history. More neglected still are the women responsible for those dazzling hues. [BV]


Observed | May 08

We’re addicted to likes, retweets, and reshares, and our addiction makes us distracted and depressed. Tristan Harris believes that tech is ‘downgrading humans’ and that the words we use to describe the problem are tepid and insufficient. It’s time to fight back. [BV]

Created for animators aiming to perfect their rendering of animal gaits, this video combines illustration, biology, and physics, and is a joy to watch! [BV]

The compelling history and impressive prints of the earliest printing press in the Uruguayan territory. [BV]


Observed | May 07

Our very talented friend Rob Walker has a new book out today! Get yourself a copy of The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday and be inspired. [BV]


Observed | May 02

Gail Bichler and Jake Silverstein look back at a year designing The New York Times Magazine. [BV]


Observed | May 01

A thoughtful critique (and a few commonsense changes) of Hudson Yards and it‘s walkability: who uses the space, when the space is used, how the space forms community, and how it integrates the the community that surrounds it. [JH]


Observed | April 30

The brain apparently makes no distinction between a broken bone and an aching heart. Rejection actually hurts. [BV]

Influence was worrisome long before it was digital. The word “influence” appears in a quarter of William Shakespeare’s plays, in which the condition of being influenced is rarely happy or dignified. A history of the influencer, from Shakespeare to Instagram. [BV]


Observed | April 29

Lego has come up with perhaps its most ingenious product yet: bricks designed to help children learn Braille. [BV]

Back in the 1960’s, when Penn Station became a subterranean rat’s maze, New York City seemed to be heading very definitely south. [BV]


Observed | April 26

In its original concept, the Appalachian Trail was more than a hiking path. It was a wildly ambitious plan to reorganize the economic geography of the eastern United States. [BV]


Observed | April 24

American food is increasingly channeled through a handful of companies: Amazon, Walmart, FreshDirect, Blue Apron. What do we lose if traditional neighborhood supermarkets go under? Meet the man who’s going to save your neighborhood grocery store. [BV]

Timed to coincide with Easter, Earth Day and, for New Englanders, Patriot’s Day: two billboards outside of Boston. [BV]


Observed | April 23

Public Sans is a new typeface from the US Government. According to the General Services Administration, “sometimes you need [a typeface] that’s simple, neutral, and isn’t Helvetica.” Not sure we agree. [BV]


Observed | April 22

A brief memoir of growing up in the library. [BV]

Where can a teen get a poster in 2019? How does a teenager turn their bedroom into a shrine? A wonderful history of the poster and it’s meaning past, current, and future. [BV]

In honor of Earth Day, three galleries that remind us of the beauty and power of nature: the power of storms from Mitch Dobrowner, amazing landscapes from Leah Kennedy, and Earth from space by Astronaut Scott Kelly. [BV]


Observed | April 19

Spam musubi (a Hawaiian snack of canned meat served on rice and wrapped in nori) and other unintended consequences of cultural exchange. [BV]



Jobs | May 24