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 | November 20

Because bullshit is almost everywhere, we assume we know how to recognize it and thus what it is. Subjectivity and its discontents. [BV]


Observed | November 19

Super recognizers: the people who never forget a face. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]

Amazon’s “stealth brands” are represented by $299 crowdsourced logos. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 15

Juan Ángel Cotta’s work, especially a collection of hardback books he illustrated in 1960, is one of the missing links between South American publishing and the European modernist traditions. —Steven Heller. [BV]

Need some inspiration? 25 reasons to keep on making stuff “in this time of rampant assholery.” [BV]


Observed | November 13

Are we confusing readability with literary value? The case for difficult books. [BV]

Big Mike Takes Lunch” by filmmaker Nicolas Heller, is a documentary that captures a day in the life of Michael Saviello, manager for 40 years of the iconic East Village barber shop, Astor Place Hairstylists, who paints on his lunch break. [BV]


Observed | November 12

Artificial Intelligence is mapping the Pacific ocean’s secret soundscape in hopes of building the most comprehensive dataset of its kind – an enormous “sound postcard of the ocean.” [BV]

Metal band accused of quitting a tour because their logo was too small on the flyer responds with a tiny logo t-shirt. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 09

Brilliant Maps is “making sense of the world, one map at a time” and includes maps of “Countries Which Have At Some Point Claimed To Be Rome’s Successor” and “A Map of Superheroes in NYC & The Areas They Protect”. [BV]

Bob Neill’s Book of Typewriter Art” from 1982 contains instructions for creating a likeness of Queen Elizabeth, Elvis Presley, numerous cats, and a mystery picture all in ascii. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | November 08

Should I delete my social media? Five artists + writers weigh in. [BV]

Fabulous 1970s stock photo model shots: these were the archetypal 1970s faces and fashions. [BV]

What do our oldest books say about us? On the ineffable magic of four little manuscripts of Old English poetry. [BV]


Observed | November 07

The epic rise and fall of the name Heather. [BV]

Sixty-four extreme human emotions visualized, long before the emoji. [BV]


Observed | November 05

Almost published a number of times over the last 30 years, Julius Scott’s manuscript about slaves and sailors in the Caribbean has been an underground sensation and is finally being published. [BV]

While rumors of humans wiping out 60% of animal species been widely mischaracterized, the actual news is still grim. [BV]


Observed | October 31

“I see each commission as a challenge: write a piece of music which lasts between fifteen and twenty minutes, for an orchestra comprising the following 65 instruments, and we’d like it by this date.” Nico Muhly on designing music. [BV]

Boo! The spooky evolution of text message-based horror stories. [BV]


Observed | October 30

In case you need a distraction: A database of paper airplanes with easy to follow folding instructions. [BV]

The singular, cultlike status of the Kit Kat bar in Japan. [BV]


Observed | October 29

The use of skulls as design elements in American logos quintupled as the US went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | October 26

The question of whether time moves in a loop or a line has occupied human minds for millennia. Has physics found the answer? [BV]

Apple’s radical approach to news curation: have humans make selections rather than machines. [BV]


Observed | October 25

“What you do is you contribute these little background moments to people’s lives, and if you can do it in a way that brings a little beauty or pleasure along the way, it’s a home run.” Michael Bierut on his career as a designer. [BV]

The New York Times was one of the last American daily newspapers to add color to its news pages. Here’s why. (via Steven Heller) [BV]

Why are we still arguing for the business value of design? [BV]


Observed | October 24

Social media is not literature, and tweeting is not writing. Imagining Herzog as status updates. (via Arts and Letters Daily) [BV]

So. Is “hipster design” really a thing? [BV]



Jobs | November 20