Books

Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance

Emerson’s text is widely available to read online, but this new Volume edition—produced with Design Observer—elevates his wisdom through the printed word. With twelve essays from Jessica Helfand’s Self-Reliance Project: pledge now and order your copy today!




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 | July 30

A new director for New York’s Museum of Arts and Design—the 11th one, in fact. [JH]

A closer look at the economics of Black pop culture reveals that most Black creators (outside music) come from middle-to-upper middle class backgrounds, while the Black poor are written about but rarely get the chance to speak for themselves. [BV]

How Katsushika Hokusai’s “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” emerged from Japan’s isolation to become a global icon. [BV]

Nissan teamed up with sound designers at Bandai Namco, the gaming company known for Pac-Man and Tekken to create more musical warning sounds. (via Kottke)[BV]

A brave—and brilliant—essay about the perils of sameness in design. [JH]


Observed | July 23

What is the opposite of design forward—design backward? (Like a good vintage wine?) Apparently not! [JH]

Global intuitive cryptology, an installation by Hayal Pozanti at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in New York. [JH]

An insightful essay by Jarrett Fuller on the impact and legacy of Cranbrook’s graphic design program. [JH]

Photographer Bryan Sansivero has spent years exploring and documenting homes across Upstate New York that have been left to the ravages of time. (Don’t miss the Clown House.) [JH]


Observed | July 16

Google Head of Product Inclusion—and author of Building For EveryoneAnnie Jean-Baptiste on better design practices. [JH]

AOC, master of the modern visual: a beautiful essay by ALexandra Lange. [JH]

An extraordinary new seriwes of books (three of them, slipcased) on Swiss graphic design history. [JH]

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon changed the world of design with her life-sized graphics. A new collaboration with filmmaker Gary Hustwit is designed to introduce her to a new generation of design lovers. [BV]

Is Artificial Intelligence...a design problem? [JH]

In fiction, the contemporary art world is, more often than not, represented as a ridiculous shell game in which empty provocation is propped up by canny marketing and rampant financial speculation. [BV]

Will there ever be a place to sit down in Moynihan Station? [BV]

Reimagined movie posters from Patrick Concepcion. (Via Allan Chochinov/Jason Kottke.) [JH]

Wolfgang Weingart, widely credited as the father of New Wave typography, has died. He was 80. [JH]

“His recent installations sweep us in, sometimes entertain, then ask us to step back and consider images and feelings that seem too full, too immediate, to consider.” The internationally acclaimed artist Christian Boltanski has died in Paris. He was 76. [JH]

Saved from a dumpster, glass negatives reveal life in Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. (Via Don Whelan.) [JH]

The UK filmmaker Paul Bush is known for his stop-motion animations using repurposed objects. In his nostalgic short Ride, he finds his muse in theiconic motorcycles of the 1950s and ’60s. [BV]


Observed | July 06

Where’s our flying-car future? Maybe it’s finally a little closer, thanks to AirCar. [BV]


Observed | June 30

“In the infinite collection of gigantic, dwarven, elongated, flattened, skeletal, microscopic, grotesque, gnarled typefaces that grows everyday,” wrote Alphonse to Boissieu in 1854, “it is surprising that no one has thought of reproducing the beautiful antique letter whose proportions are so fortunately and wisely combined...” More on epigraphy—the study of ’exposed writings‘—and on Mercure, the new typeface from Fonderie Abyme, here [JH]


Observed | June 25

Parsing the pixels to discern truth from falsehood: truth and consequences in the deepfake era. [JH]


Observed | June 24

A touching exchange between two wonderful art directors, brought together by unlikely circumstances: Steve Heller and Véronique Vienne reflect on creativity, a chronic illness, and everything in between. [JH]



Jobs | August 03