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The Self-Reliance Project
The Self-Reliance Project is a daily essay about what it means to be a maker during a crisis—to think through making, to know yourself better through the process of producing something—and how this kind of return to self-knowledge might just be the entire point.

It’s title comes from the 1841 essay on self-reliance by the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote with astonishing clarity about the perils of conformity and consistency, about what it means to follow your mind, trust your instincts, and listen to your heart.

So for now, stay well, stay home, and do your work. But don’t just take it from me. Take it from Emerson.

Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.

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Join us as we practice social distancing the best way we know how—in conversation with all of you.

In 2003, we started Design Observer as a great place to meet for conversation about all the ways design affects our lives. Little did we imagine it would an even better place to meet seventeen years later.

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Observed | October 15

Karim Rashid opines on the harsher realities of a life in design. [JH]

Richard Schultz, American pioneer of modernist furniture, dies at 95. [JH]

Pixar movies, and the subtleties of dystopian cities. [JH]

In celebration of their relaunch Print magazine comissioned a wonderful video that you should watch. [BV]


Observed | October 01

Adnan Lotia recreates iconic album covers with ... Lego. [JH]

Designers Verònica Fuerte and Sebastián Londoño turn circles into an international design language. [JH]

Jim Jarmusch, collage artist. [JH]

Posted without comment. [JH]


Observed | September 24

For the ABC Science series Phenomena, the Australian artist and filmmaker Josef Gatti collaborated with the Australian composer Kim Moyes for an amalgamation of art and science exploring ‘naturally occurring patterns, and the fundamental forces of nature that create them’. [BV]

Jack Kerouac, book designer. [JH]

An exquisite memorial by the American artist Suzanne Firstenberg. [JH]




Observed | September 17

From Aunt Jemima to AI, How Racism Creeps Into Design: an insightful video from Bloomberg Equality. [JH]

The 40 winners of this year’s Posterheroes Becoming e-Quals competition have been announced. Congrats to all! [BV]

German artist Max Hattler finds inspiration in the immense size, muted colors, and relentless repetition of the facades of Hong Kong’s apartment high-rises. [BV]

Swatch Bharat—online collections of Indian native aesthetics, created to preserve artifacts disappearing due to globalization—has completed their eighth collection. Get inspired![BV]


Observed | September 10

Rachel Berger’s Shooter Box—an exhibition protesting the United States military’s use of Microsoft Xbox controllers as battle equipment—now on view at California College of the Arts. [JH]

Pantone No. 1837, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a conspiracy theory about art and commerce. [JH]

Designing a better airport. [JH]

Revisiting a seminal guerilla signage project, twenty years later. [JH]



Jobs | October 22