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 | August 19

Visual identity for Re:publica rebels against digital culture with reams of text. Fertig Design has created a visual identity for the Re:publica conference that uses lengthy passages of text and typography instead of conventional graphics to pay “homage to the written word”. [LY]

This is the world’s worst UI—and it speaks volumes about design today. The Antwerp design agency Bagaar built an impossible form for you to fill out—and it puts all your design assumptions to the test. [LY]


Observed | August 15

Roger Ballen revisits his never-before-published Woodstock photos. The internationally renowned artist was just 19 when he took his trusty Nikon to the festival. Only one was ever published—till now. [LY]

Google has a secret design library. The company’s industrial design team shares a handful of titles from its studio library, which is curated by team members. Here are 35 of its best books. [LY]

Morphosis is designing LA’s Korean American National Museum. The museum will incorporate elements of traditional Korean houses and lots of greenery. [LY]


Observed | August 14

Be water’ The Hong Kong protest mantra encourages fluidity and adaptability to any situation influences how art is designed and distributed. [LY]

London design agency OMSE has created an augmented reality campaign for cultural venue Printworks London that transforms static typography into immersive three-dimensional animations. [LY]


Observed | August 12

Why are all recreational vehicles covered in swirls and swooshes? (via James I. Bowie) [LY]


Observed | August 08

New York knows its arts organizations have a diversity problem. The city asked cultural institutions, including museums and performing arts centers, to draw up plans to make their staff and board members more diverse. [LY]

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to make circular design “the new normal” by persuading 20 million designers to help transform the global economy from a linear to a circular model. [LY]


Observed | August 07

Domino’s Pizza is locked in a legal battle over the future of web design. The pizza company has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a three-year-old case that deals with whether Domino’s is legally required to make its websites and apps accessible to all users. [LY]


Observed | August 06

Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li win The Peoples Notre-Dame Design Competition. The competition aimed to create a new vision for the future of the iconic cathedral after the Notre Dame fire in April this year. Called Paris Heartbeat, the winning design creates a literal heartbeat for the city. [LY]

Imran Chaudhri, one of six designers who created the interface of the very first iPhone, left Apple to start his own company Humane. He now wants to use A.I., machine learning, and computer vision technology to improve our relationships with our devices. [LY]


Observed | August 05

To mark 100 years since women were given the right to vote in the United States, Baltimore Museum of Art has announced its whole year of exhibitions will be dedicated to artists who identify as female. [BV]

The Aspen Institute center devoted to Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer will open in 2022 and will have galleries and educational programs and study Bayer’s work. [BV]

“We may not have designed the systems or the community, but I do believe we have a responsibility to redesign them.” — Hugh Webber on talking to design communities all over the country. [BV]


Observed | August 01

The boundary-breaking women of New York’s graffiti scene. [BV]


Observed | July 31

When Ellen Lupton said typography was the common currency of graphic design, she wasn’t kidding. Legendary type foundry Monotype sold to private equity firm for $825 million. [JH]

Time seems to go from past to future, not in reverse. Matt Farr asks: What if time doesn’t even have a direction? [BV]


Observed | July 30

“I like work that just feels a bit wrong.” An interview with Richard Turley. [MB]

Disruption—a dressed-up version of scab-ism—does not make the world a better place. [JH]

We live in an environment where there are moving images constantly around us....But in 1897, this was startling and new and completely revolutionary. MOMA film curator Dave Kehr narrates a different way of looking at early films. [BV]


Observed | July 29

Scientists in Germany have developed an actual, intradermal tattoo that can change colour in response to changing levels of glucose, albumin, or pH. [BV]


Observed | July 25

Learning from Breezewood, Pennsylvania; Or, A Significance for Meme Culture, Peak Oil, Highway Engineering, Local Politics, Fine Art Photography, Urban Planning, and Taco Bell. It‘s official: Amanda Kolson Hurley has written the design essay of the year. [MB]

The utopian ‘feminist apartment hotels’ of Charlotte Perkins Gilman were considered to be “the most dangerous enemy American domesticity has yet had to encounter”. [BV]


Observed | July 24

Sappi is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Ideas that Matter program and they want you to snap a picture of what inspires you to design for good and share it with the hashtag #IdeasThatMatter. [BV]

“‘Imaginary’ universes are so much more beautiful than this stupidly constructed ‘real’ one.” [MB]


Observed | July 23

Lisa Sanders has done something extraordinary: in a world spinning out of control, this is what humanism looks like. [JH]


Observed | July 19

Today’s New York Times feature on the fire at Notre Dame has superb photography & dazzling interactive animations, but nothing is more mesmerizing than these sketches made at the scene by French firefighter Laurent Clerjeau. A landmark piece of visual journalism. [MB]

Everyone at this new advertising agency has served time in prison. [BV]



Jobs | August 20