Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | The Observatory

Episode 73: Fire, Fury, Playtime






Debbie Millman | Audio

Design Matters 2017 Highlights

Debbie looks back at some of her favorite highlights of 2017 including Thomas Kail, Elizabeth Alexander, Mike Mills, Sarah Jones, Anil Dash, and Brian Koppelman....
Steven Heller | Opinions

Spielberg’s Post Is Flawed

Spoiler Alert: Steven Heller digs into the production of Steven Spielberg’s “The Post”....
Michael Bierut | Essays

Vladimir Nabokov: Father of Hypertext?

The innovative narrative technique developed by Vladimir Nabokov for his 1962 novel Pale Fire—essentially a single epic poem with footnotes and commentary—anticipated hypertext, the internet, and the interconnected world of blogs....
Lilly Smith | Interviews

Chain Letters: Jessica Gaddis

This interview is part of a new Design Observer series, Chain Letters, in which we ask leading design minds a few burning questions—and so do their peers, for a year-long conversation about the state of the industry....
John Foster | Accidental Mysteries

Doug Rickard: N. A.

Headfirst into the underbelly...
Sean Adams | Evidence

Smiley Smile

“The image we have would be impossible for Mickey Mouse to maintain. We’re just normal people.”...
Steven Heller | Interviews

Making Inaccessibility Accessible

If you subscribe to the belief that good design makes life better, then there can be no better use of design than as an aid—if not a curative—for the disabled....
Brian LaRossa | Opinions

Fail Fast, Hasten Slowly: Reconciling Print and Digital Product Development Cultures

Print and digital product development strategies are historically described as opposing forces, but they aren’t wholly at odds....


Observed | January 16

Is interface design to blame for the false Hawaii missile alert? [JH]


Observed | January 15

How good design can improve peoples’ lives: a look back at the design history of the baby transport system. [JH]

A new year’s resolution from Gizmodo: they’re going to write more about design. [JH]

Design is ... more than a department ... more than a phase ... more than a feeling! McKinsey explains. [JH]


Observed | January 12

Edith Wharton’s design legacy. [JH]

Cycling their way from Europe to Asia, two women are researching the history and contemporary uses of paper. [JH]


Observed | January 11

Is an artistic “hobby” the key for scientific fame? [JH]

Extraordinary visual evidence of climate change: a worthy Oscar contender, and a cautionary tale of epic scale. [JH]


Observed | January 10

E-waste graveyards. [MPL]

Up next: countertop dishwashers. [MPL]

What Google Street View tells us about income. [MPL]


Observed | January 09

If we do say so ourselves, the brilliant Craeft review from Michael Bierut on NYTBR is worth a read. [BV]


Observed | January 08

Raising Places: how the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is helping to support design. [JH]

Probably 2017’s best song about furniture design. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

What will graphic design look like in 2018? [JH]


Observed | January 05

Intelligent design—for robots. [JH]


Observed | January 04

In the wake of the net neutrality decision, should cities build internet networks? [BV]

The most stolen books according to indie bookstore owners: Joan Didion, Kerouac, Vonnegut, Bukowski, and somewhat surprisingly, ethics books from the philosophy section. [BV]


Observed | January 03

The design of the City of Oakland’s tree logo was inspired by a pair of cufflinks. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | January 02

In Malawi, a Dutch firm uses local materials to create affordable equipment for hospitals. [JH]

In Brooklyn, Smith and Reed maintain Order, and Standards: a terrific write-up in Hyperallergic. [JH]


Observed | December 22

The pitfalls of office design. [JH]

Gifts made of books. [MPL]


Observed | December 21

Design is everywhere. Even—and especially—Belgium! [JH]

Expressive typography for the titles in the new Errol Morris Netflix series, Wormwood. [JH]


Observed | December 20

Design as curated serendipity. [JH]

Dutch Design Week: in Eindhoven, the Embassy of Intimacy includes a caravan of cuddles and “please touch” stickers. [JH]

Is design a ... hidden hero? [JH]


Observed | December 19

Melania Trump’s illustrated guide to holiday decorating. [MB]

Experience design and the power of narrative. [JH]



Jobs | January 16