Rick Poynor is a writer, critic, lecturer and curator, specialising in design, photography and visual culture. He founded Eye, co-founded Design Observer, and contributes columns to Eye and Print. He is Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading in the UK.



























































































































































































































11.05.10
Danzig Baldaev’s Prison House of Flesh
Fuel’s
Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia, which appeared in 2004, was a shrewdly judged piece of publishing. The meticulous ink drawings of tattoos made by Danzig Baldaev, a prison guard from 1948 to 1986, had a horrible fascination for viewers safe in the knowledge that they would never have to endure anything as harsh, perilous and sadistic as the Soviet penal system.
















































Observed | January 07

“It seems to me that designers, bringing evermore astonishing prowess to bear, too often outshine the work they are meant to support.” Another pitch-perfect review by Jesse Green. [JH]

Design and the Chinese bookstore: a saga! (h/t to Jen Renninger) [JH]

From Mad magazine to B-Movies: An Oral History of Beastie Boys’ Artwork. [BV]


Observed | December 30

Book jackets as optical echoes. [JH]

Design and Healing, a new exhibition at Cooper Hewitt in New York, “helps us appreciate optimism amid hopelessness, and celebrates extraordinary accomplishments under duress”. [JH]

The long read: Craig L. Wilkins on the questionable role of the architectural biennial. [JH]

Why is a typeface named Jim Crow? (via Mike Errico.) [JH]


Observed | December 23

“It’s something that should have been caught in the design phase.” [JH]

A beautiful roundup of forty years of MTV logos, from our friends at It’s Nice That. [JH]

Broken covers: Steve Goldman puts the world’s worst album art on show.[BV]


Observed | December 17

Redesigning the euro—by 2024! [JH]

Brad Pitt, design obsessive, takes on his latest project, in France. [JH]

Design at Apple in the post-Jony Ive era. [JH]

We normally avoid any incoming news item labeled “trends to watch” but there are actually some lovely things in here. ’Tis the season to look at ... beer labels! [JH]

La Patria is a robust online archive of Uruguayan design that includes posters, postage stamps. book and record covers, and more. [JH]


Observed | December 10

Design and traffic. [JH]

In Ghana, a model for design, education, community—and sustainability. [JH]

Insecure—the acclaimed HBO series—makes costume design history. [JH]

Ritesh Gupta launches Useful School, a pay-what-you-can online design curriculum for people of color. [BV]

Spotify Wrapped: a design-cautionary tale. [JH]


Observed | November 26

Dave Hickey, the author of Air Guitar and The Invisible Dragon, has died. The influential art and cultural critic was 82. [JH]

Rethinking design—as a transformative catalyst for change—in the circular economy. [JH]


Observed | November 15

Bob Gill, “bomb-throwing revolutionary”“, “polemicist”, and, yes, the important and influential graphic designer, dies at 90. [JH]

Who designs the city? A compelling, inclusive, and actionable inquiry. [JH]

All hail the mighty ... typewriter! [JH]


Observed | November 12

Periplus* Workshops, offers a new and unique opportunity for emerging designers to respond to nature in the rural and ancient Mani Region, near Kalamata, in Greece. [JH]

A new retrospective of Barbara Kruger’s “endlessly hashtaggable” work opens at the Art Institute of Chicago. [JH]


Observed | November 05

Inspired? Revolutionary? Or just batshit crazy? A consulting architect on a proposed new dormitory at the University of California Santa Barbara claims its design premise is "unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being". [JH]

If you think you’re not part of this well-oiled machine of excess—and its dark underbelly—you’re wrong. (Don’t miss the Swedish teapot man.) [JH]



Jobs | January 17