Media

Lily Hansen
Broadcaster Kat Arney Translates Science for Creative Learners
I see myself as a translator for people that are keen to learn more.


Jude Stewart
Enchanted Lion
Why aren’t graphic designers more broadly gaga for children’s literature? Why is kid-lit and children’s illustration considered a niche interest? After all, visual literacy begins for just about everyone with reading picture books; it’s the universal training ground.


Debbie Millman
Anne Lamott
Debbie talks with writer Anne Lamott about her life and her long career.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 90: The Container for the Story
The Cleveland Justice Center and Season 3 of Serial, adaptive reuse, the Secret History of the Future, Articles of Interest, The Romanoffs


Steven Heller
The Faithful Spy
Creating a children’s book about a member of the Nazi resistance.


Marian Bantjes
Heaven
The paradoxical thing about heaven is that it is both highly individualistic and intrinsically social.


Lily Hansen
Illustrator Rebecca Green Sketches a Space to be Herself
The first of four profiles of creative people working in Nashville, this one focusing on children’s book illustrator Rebecca Green.


The Editors
Fifty Books and Fifty Covers
Announcing the 2017 50 Books | 50 Covers selections.


The Editors
Richard Bernstein: Starmaker
A gallery of pop stars from the pop art era.


The Editors
A Few Minutes of Design
A series of deceptively simple—and fun—exercises.


Ken Gordon
Tom Peters and Redesigning the Idea of Excellence
“We’ve gotta provide excellence in the services that we are delivering.”


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Gail Anderson
“As a designer, I am sensitive to the way people consume information, and very concerned about the survival of print.”


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Joan Wong
“I’m not sure the experience between print and ebooks is really that different.”


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Jennifer 8. Lee
“In my line of work, sometimes you have to wait for the future to catch up.”


Lorraine Wild
100%
So, it’s 1966 and two guys are hanging around their Los Angeles apartment, musing about the sort of things that people mused about in the Sixties. The aesthetic philosophers in question were the artist Ed Ruscha and the artist/comedy writer/composer/performer Mason Williams...


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Anna Gerber
“Readers and writers are open, adventurous, and eager to try new things. Even if those experiences are not always perfect.”


Milton Glaser
Milton Glaser: Nine Posters
“As a professional graphic designer for sixty years, I’ve produced more than five hundred posters that in a variety of ways inform, persuade, or decorate their subjects—that all comes under the heading of good professional practice.”


Edwin Carels
Training Grounds
A new book out from Ludion Publishers explores at the Quay Brothers training as graphic artists and the artwork that they created.


Molly Young
Puzzling Out William Steig
A new book is a coded exploration of New York City—an account of local customs and affinities, a catalog of macro and microaggressions, a narrative of life in the modern metropolis.


Julie Anixter
Understanding is the Hard Part
TED founder Richard Saul Wurman’s new book, Understanding Understanding, reminds AIGA executive director Julie Anixter that while mastering any discipline is a difficult task, designers might be the ones best suited to guide the journey from inquiry to insight.


Steven Heller
The Times. A Comic Strip. A Pulitzer Prize.
It is not every day that a comic strip wins the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning—come to think of it, there’s never been one.


Debbie Millman
Anand Giridharadas
Debbie Millman talks to journalist Anand Giridharadas about his career, about a divided America, and about tech monopolies.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
S4E9: Karin Fong
Karin Fong is a founding member of Imaginary Forces, a creative company specializing in visual storytelling and brand strategy.


Jessica Barness
Dancin’ to a New Tune: The Subversive, Entrepreneurial Flexi Disc
The story of the flexi disc vinyl record is an intertwining of manufacturing, form, content, and publication.


Kathryn Lofton, Alan Thomas
Forms of Obsession
How do we define the line between attention and obsession?



Julie Anixter
Just Keep Walking: An Interview with Paula Scher
Called “the most influential woman graphic designer on the planet” by fellow designer extraordinaire Ellen Lupton, Pentagram partner Paula Scher has left an undeniable imprint on the American design psyche.


Louise Harpman
Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture
The origin of the coffee lid is a distinctly American story and can be traced to the late 1970s, when coffee-loving car drivers, bus riders, train travelers, and walkers forever changed the hot-beverage-drinking landscape in this country.



Sean Adams
Bad Color
Advice on creating color palettes from the author of The Designer’s Dictionary of Color.


Steven Heller
Vignelli’s Subway Map For Little Ones
Massimo Vignelli’s subway map, and the graphic design process, immortalized in new form: a children’s book.


Bonnie Siegler
Dear Client
“Ironically, there are many books for designers about how we can better work with clients...But, as far as I know, there are no books to help clients better work with creative people, who are a unique species with a unique language and not-so-unique insecurities.”


Steven Heller
Fear Of Phallus
In my case, on average of twice a week, editors accused me of allowing one or more illustrators to include an unacceptable banana, kidney, or lozenge shape — and I’m talking about a plain old curvilinear-tipped graphic device that happened to be touching some other shape.


Debbie Millman
David Cay Johnston
On this episode, Debbie talks to David Cay Johnston about the fun of investigative journalism.


Alexandra Lange
The Critical Olympics
What the best sports commentary does is just like criticism: it makes you care about the previously abstract.


Bonnie Siegler
Signs of Resistance
This book is a collection of visual expressions of resistance throughout American history. They include broadsides, postcards, posters, greeting cards, sculptures, paintings, ads, book covers, magazine covers, handmade-signs, projections, and the back sides of scrap paper.



Steven Heller
Image Captures: Change the Canon
“The challenge was to balance the known while capturing the unknown.” Steven Heller on finding new artifacts on which design can evolve.


Rick Poynor
Herbert Spencer and The Book of Numbers
The Book of Numbers by Herbert and Mafalda Spencer was aimed at children, but its intriguing visual approach is more “photobook” than “schoolbook.”


Steven Heller
Spielberg’s Post Is Flawed
Spoiler Alert: Steven Heller digs into the production of Steven Spielberg’s “The Post”.


Brian LaRossa
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.


Lilly Smith
Stefan Bucher’s Letterheads: A Zany but Totally Methodical Take on Reinvention
The designer explains why humor is a good tool, how to overcome artistic fears, and what he means by saying he’s a “Victorian gardener of the mind.”


Ken Gordon
Everyman and The Longevity Economy: Designing a New Narrative for Old Age
“Old age isn’t a battle; old age is a massacre.”


Steven Heller, Debbie Millman
Holiday Book List: For the Inspiration-seeker and the Composed Creative
As 2017 draws to a close, Heller and Millman ask, which feeling do you want to end the year on: one that stimulates, or soothes?


Julie Anixter, Perrin Drumm
Holiday Book List: For the Design Standard-Bearer or the Trendsetter
Are you looking for design moments that shook the world or that are off the beaten path?


Doug Powell, Christopher Simmons
Holiday Book List: For the Design Practitioner and the Theorist
Books that provide a broad understanding of the world around you.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S3E11: Melissa Harris
Melissa Harris is editor at large of the Aperture Foundation and the author of A Wild Life: A Visual Biography of Photographer Michael Nichols.


Maya P. Lim
Why Not Futura? How Futura is Actually a Conversation with the Past
Maya P. Lim talks to Never Use Futura author Douglas Thomas.


Sean Adams, Ashleigh Axios
Holiday Book List: For the Serenity-seeker and the Problem-solver
Are you looking to escape reality or face it? Either way, we’ve got the book for you.


The Editors
50 Books | 50 Covers of 2017: Call for Entries
AIGA + Design Observer are pleased to announce the opening of the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition for books published in 2017.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Holiday Book List 2017: Master Class
You don’t have to be a creative to appreciate these reads. A curious mind will do.


Sean Adams
Fake News: Blow Up
We are conditioned to understand that a photograph is an honest record of an object, time, and place.


Michael Bierut
Everything I Know About Design I Learned from The Sopranos
After eight years, 86 episodes, and untold quantities of gobbagool, The Sopranos finished its run on HBO. And this is what we’ve learned, from a design point of view.


Maya P. Lim
Never Use Futura
It could have been Never Use Comic Sans. Or Never Use Arial. Or—dare I write it?—Never Use Helvetica. Instead, Douglas Thomas chose Futura.


Michael Bierut
I Love the 80s
Miami Vice: the quintessential postmodern design artifact, in all its glory and all its disgrace.


Michael Bierut
Now You See It
There was a message hidden in the illustration on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. At least I think it was hidden. Did you see it? Why didn’t I?


Ken Gordon
Jane Jacobs Took It to the Streets
So much of our legendary urbanist’s accomplishments involved bringing the design of cities down to earth from the soaring views of modernists.


Steven Heller
Designing for the Masses
The ultimate case for anti-design: The Communist Manifesto


Michael Bierut
Learning to Draw with Jon Gnagy
“Mike looks like he might be a real artist!”


Sean Adams
Hope is The Thing with Feathers
A closer look at NBC’s peacock.


Maya P. Lim
Joan Miró: I Work Like a Gardener
“To work like a gardener was to create life itself—the autonomous life of a visual universe that, in [Miró’s] words, was a world set in motion.”


Maya P. Lim
Bruno Munari: In the Darkness of the Night
Bruno Munari’s classic In the Darkness of the Night is made with materials that build mystery and tension.


Maya P. Lim
The Signs of Barcelona
A glimpse inside Louise Fili’s newest book.


Juliette Cezzar
The Future of Graphic and Communication Design
A look at how our roles as designers are ever evolving.


Steven Heller
Chris Ware’s Really Big Novelty Book
The first time I was introduced to Chris Ware’s work was at R.O. Blechman’s Ink Tank office on West 46th Street.


Chris Ware
I Loved to Draw
An excerpt from Chris Ware’s new Monograph.


Thomas de Monchaux
Something Elemental About Something Artificial
Exploring the complex space between the formal and informal, the formed and formless with LOT-EK.


Gregorio Amaro
“Digital Amoxtli ”: Interaction Design Can Be More than Just Fun and Games
Through designer Gregorio Amaro’s new project, which addresses death from a MesoAmerican perspective, we see how interaction design has the potential to create positive outcomes by addressing difficult subjects in new ways.


Chip Kidd
Designing The Road
In an excerpt from his new book, Chip Kidd recounts designing Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.


Steven Heller
Reinventing The Holocaust Narrative
Steven Heller on Marina Willer’s new documentary, Red Trees.


Maya P. Lim
Walden, Or a Life with the Book
Can suboptimal book design discourage you from reading? Can the design of something ever stop you from doing something you love?


Brian LaRossa
How We Read Matters
We are responsible for the consequences of the way we choose to read.


Sean Adams
Admiration for the Bland Subject (and Beautiful Design)
When presented with dull content, Sean Adams recommends designers “reframe, augment, or interpret the content and redesign.”


Ken Gordon
Narration vs. Curation: Deyan Sudjic, the Design Museum, and B Is for Bauhaus
To read a book is to stage an exhibition in one’s own imagination.


John Foster
An Archive of Czech Film Posters
Real life #TBT: a publicly accessible database with over 6,000 original, vintage posters from all periods of cinema.


Lilly Smith
How to Judge a Book by its Cover
Announcing the 2016 50 Books | 50 Covers selections.


Sean Adams
Hey
Sean Adams extolls the virtues of a narrative told with minimal means and a strong ideas.


Melissa Harris
A Wild Life
PERMISSION EMPHATICALLY DENIED. The story of a National Geographic photographer’s journey documenting mountain gorillas in Rwanda. An excerpt from A Wild Life: A Visual Biography of Photographer Michael Nichols.



Finding Marguerita
With her designs, Marguerita Mergentime was stirring up conversation, provoking human interaction, and providing a visually compelling backdrop to socializing long before today’s concept of user experience had evolved.


Adrian Shaughnessy
Literary Alchemy and Graphic Design
Should graphic designers take a lead from Joycean lyricism?


Brian LaRossa
Empathy in Book Publishing
On The intersection of customer empathy and book publishing.


House Industries
Finding a Kindred Spirit
“I’m not sure if we needed a new logo and thought of House, or if we needed a new logo because of House.” —Jimmy Kimmel


Steven Heller
Something to Read This Summer, Or Now!
If you are going to read one thing this summer (or now), I suggest an essay in Ben Shahn’s The Shape of Content titled “Biography of a Painting.”


Sean Adams
John Astrop and Eric Hill, Booze, 1967
Historic design work, linked to the cultural standards of its time, is often unacceptable now. Does that make it bad? Should the creator be vilified? Should the offending design work be eliminated from a classroom or book?


Steven Heller
Cosmos of Signs
The universe of signs and symbols devised throughout the ages of human history is head-spinningly immense and forever expanding.


Katie Evans, Gabriela Matuszyk
With a Shift Simultaneous Realities Collide
Using writing as a tool to listen to others and ourselves.


Manuel Lima
Visualizing Spheres of Knowledge
The circularity exhibited in nature turned out to be much more than a source of wonder. It soon became a chief guiding principle of human culture, emulated and reinvented in art, religion, language, technology, architecture, philosophy, and science.


Sean Adams
Subjective + Emotional
Color is subjective and emotional.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S2E8: Teddy Blanks
Teddy Blanks is a co-founder of CHIPS, a Brooklyn-based design studio, who specializes in film titles.


Ken Gordon
Chasing the Unicorn: Why Writing Is Work
If writing is design’s "unicorn skill", how do you get started? Read.


Milton Glaser + Mirko Ilić
Call for Submissions: The Design of Dissent
Artists usually are the alarm system for society.


Brian LaRossa
Undercover Branding
The Stories Behind 20 Publishing House Logos


Jessica Helfand
Design Competition as Bake-Off
The idea of book design rendered as a global free-for-all likens the act of cover design to a giant bake-off. But books are not brownies, and design, like literature, is not a sweet shop.


Ken Gordon
J. D. Salinger: A Cover Story
Let’s judge a book—Franny and Zooey, by the late J.D. Salingerby its cover.


Eric Holzenberg
The Aesthetic Movement
The role of printing in the Aesthetic Movement.


Kathleen Meaney
Co-Teaching with Eustace Tilley
What the New Yorker can teach us about understanding images


Jade Doskow
Lost Utopias
Lost Utopias documents the remains of World’s Fair sites.


Ken Gordon
Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, a Novel… with a Short, Useful Illustration of Empathic Design
That’s right: Philip Roth, designer manqué!


The Editors
Deadline Approaching
Just one week left to enter 50 Books | 50 Covers competition!


The AIGA Design Educators Community
Required Reading
AIGA’s Design Educators Community list their must-have books for design inspiration for 2017


Heather Strelecki
The “Uniformly Good” Backstory of 50 Books | 50 Covers
In the early years of AIGA’s book competition, which began in 1923, the jurors focused on the construction of the book and the printed page.



The Editors
50 Books | 50 Covers: Jurors Announced
We are thrilled to announce the judges for this year’s 50 Books | 50 Covers competition.


Massimo Pitis
It’s A Mag World
Massimo Pitis chats with Jeremy Leslie of Mag Culture about magazines and the never-ending story of printed matter.


Adrian Shaughnessy
Books. Still not dead.
Thoughts from a publisher, author, editor, and occasional designer of printed books.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S1E11: Steve Duenes
Steve Duenes is an Assistant Editor at The New York Times who oversees a team of visual journalists.


Observed
Happy Holidays from Robert Frost
A brief history of the collaboration between Robert Frost and Joseph Blumenthal as well as many top woodcut and engraving artists of the day.


The Editors
50 Books | 50 Covers of 2016: Call for Entries
AIGA + Design Observer are pleased to announce the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition for books published in 2016.


Debbie Millman
Gail Bichler
Debbie talks to New York Times Magazine design director Gail Bichler about magazine design and the role of the magazine cover in the digital age.


Julie Anixter
Design Observer Holiday Reading List
Looking for something to read this holiday season? Look no further!


Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright
Looking Good
A visual guide to the nun’s habit.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 46: TV Party
TV party: Search Party, The Crown, Fleabag, Crisis in Six Scenes, Highston, I Love Dick, Daniella Zalcman, the fallout shelter sign


Steven Heller
Paul Rand: The Last Word
Design was Paul Rand’s overwhelming reason for being.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
S1E5: Bruce Cohen
Bruce Cohen is an Oscar-winning film producer and president of the board of directors of the American Foundation for Equal Rights


Debbie Millman
Steven Watson
Debbie talks to Stack Magazines founder Steven Watson about the passion behind the independent magazines that he loves.


Rick Poynor
The Never-ending Struggle against Clutter
Clutter and design are inseparable as concepts because clutter is the negation of design.



Jessica Helfand
A Good Pan Is Hard To Find
On baking a cheesecake and becoming a better designer: it’s one big balancing act of artistry and skill.


Debbie Millman
Design Matters from the Archive: Eli Horowitz
Debbie talks to editor and digital novelist Eli Horowitz about the virtues of collaboration + more



Michael Bierut
In Praise of Slow Design
Is there a such a thing as slow graphic design? A look at 80 years of barely perceptible design changes at The New Yorker.


Debbie Millman
Gretchen Rubin
Debbie talks to author Gretchen Rubin about happiness and the power of habit.


The Editors
50 Books | 50 Covers Winners Announced
The best of the best


Rick Poynor
The Art of Punk and the Punk Aesthetic
Punk has two graphic histories: Punk: An Aesthetic and The Art of Punk. What conclusions do they draw?


Jessica Helfand
The Karaoke Effect
The illusory bubble populated by thousands of fame-seekers who fervently believe in their own righteous, if highly fictional talent.


Debbie Millman
Design Matters from the Archive: Ben Schott
Debbie talks to Ben Schott about the importance of failing early in one’s career, about how to take a politician’s picture, and about writing and designing his own books.



Jessica Helfand
On Memory
Pictures do not only speak louder than words but also are more likely to be remembered.


John Foster
Film in Transit
Remnants of the Ghanian Mobile Cinema


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Drape (Cavalcade III) by Eva Stenram
Abducted in plain sight


Debbie Millman
Lisa Congdon
On this episode Debbie talks with artist and writer Lisa Congdon about how she sometimes felt like an imposter.


Adam Harrison Levy
Pop Art Is … Interviews with Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol’s Index


Véronique Vienne
The Invention of Desire
What’s Bad about Good Design



Rob Walker
Object Journalism at Mmuseumm
The new season of Mmuseumm speaks to our present, by way of unlikely objects.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Clive Owen in character by Dan Winters
Anatomy of a publicity picture


Debbie Millman
Caroline Paul
Debbie talks to writer Caroline Paul about her death-defying adventures, and how girls must learn the difference between fear and exhilaration.


Rick Poynor
Stephen Bayley: Death Drive
Style, money, class, glamour, sex, and the car crash


Debbie Millman
Kate Bolick
Debbie Millman talks with writer Kate Bolick about society’s historically skeptical view of a single woman.


Jez Owen
Open the book, Hal
The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Nurse Midwife by W. Eugene Smith
The mystery of birth


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Guts of the Beast by Marcus Nilsson
How to take a food picture


Adrian Shaughnessy
Statement and Counter-Statement
Notes on Experimental Jetset


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Chimpanzee by James Mollison
Looking into the face of an ape


John Foster
Fusing Cultures
Painted Bookplates by Traditional Rajasthani Miniaturists




Adrian Shaughnessy
Survey says … !
What’s the difference between UK and US designers?


John Foster
The Observer Decameron—Tenth Day
Favorite books of 2015 from our contributors


Bonnie Siegler
The Observer Decameron—Ninth Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Oildale by Rudy VanderLans
The dismal beauty of an oil field


Rick Poynor
The Observer Decameron—Eighth Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors


Adam Harrison Levy
The Observer Decameron—Seventh Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors



Blake Eskin
The Observer Decameron—Sixth Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors


Adrian Shaughnessy
The Observer Decameron—Fifth Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors


Eugenia Bell
The Observer Decameron—Fourth Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors


Jessica Helfand
The Observer Decameron—Second Day
The top ten books of 2015 picked by our contributors


Michael Bierut
The Observer Decameron—First Day
The top ten books of 2015 from Design Observer contributors


Timothy Young
Books of Accidents
Dumb ways to die



Jessica Helfand
Out of Bounds
Charles Saatchi still trying to shock, leaves something to be desired in his new book


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Suburban House at Night by Todd Hido
The pleasure in not knowing


Debbie Millman
Scott Clemons
Debbie talks to Scott Clemons about one of the great printers and designers of all time.



Steven Heller
American Reich
The Triumph of Graphic Design


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Man with a Bandaged Head
The aftermath of extreme weather


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Morandi’s Objects by Joel Meyerowitz
The sublime in ordinary things


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Tilda Swinton by Tim Walker
The performance of a picture


Rick Poynor
Exposure: American Hermit by Alec Soth
Alone in the great outdoors


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Pirelli Calendar Model by Peter Lindbergh
The production line of glamor


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Marlene Dietrich Billboard by Brassaï
Superhuman mystique of a star


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Crashed Car by Arnold Odermatt
Fast and Furious: a retrofit


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Beauty Salon in Kraków by David Hlynsky
The Surrealism of window displays


Debbie Millman
Design Matters From the Archive: Chip Kidd
Debbie talks to book designer Chip Kidd about why his TED talk turned into the most terrifying 19 minutes of his life, and about his book of graphic design for children.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Rossellini and Lynch by Helmut Newton
A primal lovers’ tryst


Rick Poynor
Exposure: James Nachtwey by Antonin Kratochvil
Portrait of a war photographer


Debbie Millman
Design Matters from the Archive: Peter Mendelsund
Debbie talks to Peter Mendelsund about what makes a great book cover, rebranding the classics, and about his fears of the iPad and Kindle.


Bonnie Siegler
Three Reasons: Harold and Maude
A cult favorite—for good reason


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Dysturb poster in Paris by Jeanne Frank
Taking photojournalism to the street


Debbie Millman
Design Matters From The Archive: Caroline Paul + Wendy MacNaughton
Debbie talks to illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and author Caroline Paul about their unusually intimate collaboration on a book.


Adam Harrison Levy
Lost Tribes
A journey that resulted in one of the most evocative travel books ever written, In Patagonia.


The Editors
Judging 50 Books | 50 Covers
Behind the scenes with Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand, and Peter Mendelsund



The Editors
50 Books | 50 Covers Winners Announced
Congratulations!


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Bookstore in Barcelona by Gabriel Casas
A new vision of the book


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Invisible Man by Gordon Parks
The view from an electric cave


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Kuwait, 1991 by Sophie Ristelhueber
The scars of a desert war



Bonnie Siegler
Three Reasons: The Bridge
Bernhard Wicki and the final days of WWII


Steven Heller
The Name on the Masthead
Remembering Frank Zachary


Rick Poynor
Exposure: The Eiffel Tower by Germaine Krull
A Paris icon made abstract


Debbie Millman
Design Matters From The Archive: James Victore
Debbie Millman and James Victore discusses his book, putting his opinion in the work and the difference between God-jobs and money jobs.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Salvation Army Barracks by Jack London
Down and out in early 20th-century London


Bonnie Siegler
Lord of the Flies
"Kids, a camera, and a beach"



Timothy Young
Insect Men
The Art of Pochoir and the two Messieurs Séguy


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Flypaper and Flies by Jacques-André Boiffard
A cold eye on insect carnage


Debbie Millman
Chris Ware
Debbie Millman talks to graphic novelist Chris Ware about how Charles Schultz, George Herriman, and Art Spiegelman figured into his life and career, and why empathy is fundamental to his work.



Adam Harrison Levy
Death’s Bloom
From 1913 to 1971, 5,121 mentally ill patients were cremated. Nineteen of them were soldiers. This weekend they were buried with military honors.


John Foster
Deft doodling
The inner life of illustrators


Wim Crouwel + Jan van Toorn
The Debate, Part 4
The Stamps


Virginia Shou
Thesis Book Story: Virginia Shou
MISCOMMUNICATION



Chris Pullman
Dan Friedman, Radical Modernist, Part 4
Dan in the Citi


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Pages from Fabrik by Jak Tuggener
The dark undercurrents of industry


Debbie Millman
Virginia Postrel
Debbie Millman talks to Virginia Postrel about the power of glamorous objects and glamorous people.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Head below Wires by Roger Ballen
Absurdity in the South African outland


Debbie Millman
Elle Luna
Debbie Millman talks to Elle Luna about why she walked away from great design jobs with IDEO, Uber, and Mailbox.


Sheena Calvert
Thesis Book Story: Sheena Calvert
A Visual Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Inside the Lines
Michael and Jessica discuss the The Grid, which uses artificial intelligence to design websites, the history of grids, and the unlikely success of coloring books for adults.



Bonnie Siegler
Three Reasons: Macbeth
Roman Polanski’s masterful film adaptation of the Shakespeare play


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Rue du Temple, Paris by Gail Albert Halaban
The lure of a lighted window


Rick Poynor
Exposure: J.G. Ballard by Brian Griffin
The science fiction of the ordinary


Debbie Millman
Steven Heller
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Steven Heller about his new book Graphic Style Lab.


The Editors
Observer Editions: The Book Made Visual
A few words from Abbott Miller


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Land, Rand, Mad Men
Michael and Jessica talk about a panel they participated in at the Paul Rand exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, plus the return of Mad Men and the fate of photography giants Kodak and Polaroid.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Butlin’s holiday camp by Edmund Nägele
A sixties vacation in glowing color


Debbie Millman
Louise Sandhaus
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman speaks with Louise Sandhaus about her macrobiotic past, her new book, and her struggles to get it published.


Debbie Millman
Jessica Walsh + Timothy Goodman
On this week’s episode Debbie Millman talks to Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman about their unusual collaboration


Timothy Young
Whither the Codex
A report from the frontlines of the book art movement


Jessica Helfand
License to Risk: The Square Revisited
Jessica Helfand shares her MFA thesis



Bonnie Siegler
Distressed in Dix Hills
Style comes naturally


Rob Walker
The Craft of the Fake
A crafty art forger’s work inspires an idea: authorized forgeries.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Berlin scene by Wolfgang Zurborn
The hidden order of the random


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Mother and Child by Philip Jones Griffiths
The gendered power relations of war


Rob Walker
The Music Video, Rebooted
How digital-era aesthetics are making music videos worth watching again



The Editors
50 Books | 50 Covers: Call For Entries
Enter a book for consideration into 50 Books | 50 Covers.


Betsy Vardell
Holiday Movies in Print: The Apartment
The movie that made Fred MacMurray a cad



Betsy Vardell
Holiday Movies in Print: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Christmas in space-blazing color!


Debbie Millman
Liz Danzico
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Liz Danzico about writing and designing, life in NYC, and why it’s so important to keep learning (and re-learning).


Rick Poynor
Illustrations by Bohumil Štěpán for Crazy Fairy Tales
Another look at Bohumil Štěpán’s whimsical absurdism



The Editors
Erikspieksalot
"Bap, barm, or cob?"


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Epidemics and Theater
On this episode of The Observatory, Jessica and Michael talk about design, performance, and fear of Ebola. 


The Editors
Erik Spiekermann: Left with no alternative
In today’s extract from the new biography of Erik Spiekermann: Berlin to London


Debbie Millman
Fritz Karch
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Fritz Karch on being a stylist for Martha Stewart, owning an antique shop, and what it means to be a collector.


Debbie Millman
Ben Schott
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Ben Schott about the importance of failing early in one’s career, about how to take a politician’s picture, and about writing and designing his own books.


Jeff Scher
Lost Thoughts
A new film from Jeff Scher commemorates composer Victor Ullman



Observed
Announcing the New Places Journal
Our longtime partners have launched a strong new website



The Editors
50 Books/50 Covers 2013 Winners Announced
2013's submissions ranged from the conventional to the radical.


Rick Poynor
Posters by Hans Hillmann for Jean-Luc Godard’s Films
The work of a master of cinematic graphic design



Jessica Helfand
La Grafica
Typography is, of course, her lingua franca:  and who better than to write this book than Louise Fili?


Rick Poynor
Tracking the Locations of J.G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes
A photo-essay on the futuristic marina and business park in the south of France that inspired Ballard’s disquieting fantasy about corporate crime


Alan Thomas
Lee Friedlander’s Mirror in the Road
His mirrors obscure as much as they reveal, often comically so.


Rob Walker
Assignments for Yourself
A designer's book of self-assignments prompts us to learn by going "beyond what is asked" in our workaday professional lives.


John Foster
Book Review: The True Gospel Preached Here
Margaret’s Grocery: part grocery, part church. And the subject of a new photo documentary book.


Steven Heller
Confessions of a Frustrated Newsprint Lover
I’ve held on devotedly to newsprint as long as humanly possible but I recently reached the point where my loyalty gave way to expedience.


Michael Bierut
Thoughts on “Thoughts on Design”
On Paul Rand’s 96-page masterpiece, “Thoughts on Design.”


Rick Poynor
The Mysteries of France:
A Gothic Guidebook

Guide de la France mystérieuse, illustrated by Roman Cieslewicz, is a surreal beast of a travel book.



Jan Almquist
Perceiving Deeply
On Teaching to See, A film by Andrei Severny; produced by Edward Tufte.


John Bertram
These Events Did Not Occur in Black and White
The history of cover design for This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.


The Editors
The New Design Observer
Welcome to the New Design Observer.



Debbie Millman
Gary Hustwit
Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker who has produced six feature documentaries, including Helvetica.



Adam Harrison Levy
Jeff Koons’s Studio: An ER Room for Art
Walking into Jeff Koons’s studio is like entering a medical laboratory crossed with an open plan office. It’s an ER room for art.


Adam Harrison Levy
Letters in Reverse
Adam Harrison Levy on a son’s hopes for his father.


Rick Poynor
The Body as Factory: Anatomy of an Image
Peeling back the skin of a New Scientist cover illustration by Nichola Bruce and Michael Coulson.


Debbie Millman
Noah Brier
Noah Brier on brands, design and content in the age of social media.


Rick Poynor
Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Typewriter
Typewriters are making a comeback and, as a wide-ranging new survey book shows, so is typewriter art.


Debbie Millman
Dani Shapiro
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks to writer Dani Shapiro about being raised an Orthodox Jew, about being vulnerable in her work, and about writing her way out of an existential crisis.


John Foster
Our Shared Past
Jefree Shalev and his girlfriend selected 175 film stills from his parents’ past life and dispersed these intimate family images with the Florida art community. The result is an exhibition called ‘Our Shared Past’.


Adam Harrison Levy
The Oldest Living Things In the World
Climate change — once a distant fear — is already upon us, Rachel Sussman’s glorious, and vitally important book could not have come at a more crucial moment.


Justin Zhuang
Monocle Magazine: A Singular View of the City
A monocle is a single eyeglass kept in position by the muscles around the eye. The same can be said of monocle Magazine, a publication fixated on how cities should all be built in style and for conspicuous consumption.


Owen Edwards
Rizzoli Erased
Owen Edwards remembers the elegant old Art Nouveau building that housed the Rizzoli bookstore, just what a bookstore ought to be.


Debbie Millman
Rachel Sussman
Artist Rachel Sussman discusses her new book and explains what it was like to be abandoned without supplies — or a phone — in Greenland.  


Rob Walker
Object in the News: The Face Privatizer
Tabloid-press subject Vanessa Stiviano makes fascinating (mis)use of a sun visor as media-age privatizer.


Alex Knowlton
Miami Nice
Alex Knowlton reviews this year's ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design in Miami Beach.



Observed
Charity Ball
A short film about Ethan King, a 15 year old from Michigan whose dream is to give soccer balls to kids all over the world.


Manuela Aguirre
Design for Care
A review of Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience, a new book by Peter H. Jones. 


Debbie Millman
Maria Giudice
Maria Giudice talks with Debbie Milliman about the early days of design on the internet, and what it's like to work for Facebook.


Rick Poynor
The Conceptual Advertising of J.G. Ballard
J.G. Ballard’s conceptual ads anticipated the emergence of culture jamming, subvertising, design fiction and speculative design.



Observed
Mysteries of the Vernacular
Mysteries of Vernacular is a video series from Myriapod Productions that contains 26 etymological installments, one for each letter of the alphabet.


Alexandra Lange
Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).


David Morris
The Public Library
“The public library is a singularly American invention.” An excerpt from the new book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.



Debbie Millman
Debra Bishop
Design Director of More Magazine, Debra Bishop discusses her career designing for magazines, including her years working for Martha Stewart, and the tension between designers and editors.



Observed
Shape: A Film About Design
Shape is a short film that is part of MakeShapeChange , a project aimed at young people to get them thinking about how the world is made around them and where design fits in.


Bryn Smith
De Vinne at the Grolier Club in New York
A review of the Grolier Club’s quiet, yet noteworthy exhibition, “The Dean of American Printers: Theodore Low De Vinne and The Art Preservative of All Arts”.


Observed
Inge Druckrey + Sister Corita Kent on Film
On Friday, April 4th, the Department of Graphic Design at Yale University will be showing Teaching to See and Learning by Heart, two short films on the work and teaching of Inge Druckrey and Sister Corita Kent.



Observed
The Hilda Stories
In a new video series from Herman Miller, Hilda Longinotti, George Nelson’s longtime aide-de-camp, recounts some of the greatest anecdotes from her 21-year run at the legendary New York City design atelier.



Observed
Deventer
In Deventer, the Netherlands, a routine real estate deal and demolition became the site of innovation and new intelligence in urban design.


Observed
A Love Letter to the City
In 1999, Stephen Powers stopped writing graffiti and dedicated himself to being a full-time artist.


Rick Poynor
The Filmic Page: Chris Marker’s Commentaires
The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.



Observed
Designed by: Lella Vignelli
To celebrate 50 years of their partnership, Massimo Vignelli published a book of the work of his partner and wife, Lella.



Observed
Susan S. Szenasy with Debbie Millman at The Museum of Arts and Design
Thursday, March 20th Susan S. Szenasy will talk with Debbie Millman at The Museum of Arts and Design about her distinguished career as a design critic, journalist and educator.


Chappell Ellison
You’ll Never Guess the Amazing Ways Online Design Writing and Criticism Has Changed
A call to support better desgn journalism.



Observed
Design Issues Covers
MIT Press has posted a gallery of Design Issues covers from 1984-present on Pinterest.


Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition
The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.


Rick Poynor
Why Tatlin Can Never Go Home Again
Raoul Hausmann’s photomontage Tatlin at Home is much pinned on Pinterest, but what has become of the original?


Alexandra Lange
Criticism = Love
Why you have to love design to be a critic.



Observed
50 Years of Cuban Film Posters
The Danish Film Institute has posted their collection of Cuban Film Posters from the past 50 years or more on Flickr.


Tarpley Hitt
Speaking Typography: Letter as Image as Sound
Just as a poet weaves the intent of his poem into its sound and craft, so did Lissitzky, as designer, hope to marry intent with the typography and the design of the book itself. But did he?


Observed
These Collages Blur the Lines of Reality
Daniel Gordon is an artist and author living and working in Brooklyn. His work is the subject of three booksand a profile this week on Wired.


Alexandra Lange
Playing With Design: Fredun Shapur
Add Fredun Shapur to the pantheon of modern designers making winning and sculptural objects for children.


Rick Poynor
The Compulsively Visual World of Pinterest
I have always liked Pinterest’s exclusively visual focus and unlimited boards structure. A week ago I joined.


Gideon Amichay
No, No, No, No, No, Yes
In this excerpt from his book No, No, No, No, No, Yes. Insights From A Creative Journey, Gideon Amichay pushes past no to yes.



Observed
3D Book Cover
Helen Yentus, the art director of Riverhead Books, designed a 3D book jacket for Chang-rae Lee’s new novel, On Such a Full Sea.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 01.03.14
Collaborative Media: Production, Consumption, and Design Interventions by Jonas Löwgren and Bo Reimer; The Petropolis of Tomorrow by Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper; Oitoemponto: Architecture & Intérieurs by Marie Vendittelli; After You Left / They Took it Apart: Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes by Chris Mottalini; Chicagoisms: The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation edited by Alexander Eisenschmidt with Jonathan Mekinda


Rick Poynor
Martin Sharp: People, Politics and Pop
Martin Sharp rediscovered: drawings and collages from the book People, Politics and Pop: Australians in the Sixties.


Alexandra Lange
Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.


John Foster
From Russia With Doubt
From Russia with Doubt is the true story about brothers Ron and Roger Pollard, two amateur collectors who enjoyed going to flea markets and estate sales, picking up objects, paintings — anything they happened to like.


Rick Poynor
The Writings of William Drenttel
Essays from the Design Observer archive show the wide scope of William Drenttel's interests and concerns.



The Editors
50 Books/50 Covers: Call For Entries
Enter a book for consideration into 50 Books/50 Covers.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 12.17.13
Why Photography Matters by Jerry L. Thompson; The Houses of Louis Kahn by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker; Common Pavilions: The National Pavilions in the Giardini of the Venice Biennale in Essays and Photographs edited by Diener & Diener Architects and Gabriele Basilico; Archidoodle: The Architect’s Activity Book by Steve Bowkett; Sustainable Urban Metabolism by Paulo Ferrão and John E. Fernández


Maria Giudice + Christopher Ireland
Rise of the DEO
An excerpt from the book Rise of the DEO by Maria Giudice & Christopher Ireland.


Debbie Millman
Susan Szenasy
Susan S. Szenasy is editor-in-chief of METROPOLIS, the award-winning New York City-based magazine of architecture and design.


Rick Poynor
Martin Sharp: From Satire to Psychedelia
The late Martin Sharp was a visual innovator whose work erased artificial distinctions between applied image-making and fine art.


Warren Lehrer
The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley
An excerpt and slideshow from Warren Lehrer’s A Life in Books.





Debbie Millman
Terry Teachout
Terry Teachout discusses the early days of blogging, the poetics of theater and what it's like to be a drama critic for The Wall Street Journal.



Observed
New Items in the Design Observer Store
New products listed in the Design Observer store.



Rick Poynor
Collage Culture: Nostalgia and Critique
An interview with David Banash, author of Collage Culture: Readymades, Meaning, and the Age of Consumption.



Alexandra Lange
L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman
A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 11.07.13
Five Conversations on Graphic Design and Creative Writing, Maura Frana, Leigh Mignogna, Liz Seibert; A Logo for London, David Lawrence; Logo Creed: The Mystery, Magic, and Method Behind Designing Great Logos, Bill Gardner and Catharine Fishel; ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book about Color, Jude Stewart; The Purpose Economy: Lessons from the Front Lines of the New Economy, Aaron Hurst



John Foster
Horror Movie Posters
Accidental Mysteries for November 3, 2012 highlights vintage horror movie posters.



Observed
Happy Halloween!
To celebrate the creepy and the spooky, a short list of films for your Halloween viewing pleasure.



Rick Poynor
Belgian Solutions: The True State of Things?
The foul-ups or “Belgian solutions” in a new book of street photographs are simply the way things are.



Debbie Millman
Sheila Bridges
Debbie Millman talks to interior designer Sheila Bridges about being one of the only prominent African Americans in her industry, about losing her hair and having Bill Clinton as a client.



Observed
The Wire Poster Project
"The Wire Poster Project" consists of 60 typographic posters, each one representing one of the 60 different epigrams preceding every episodes of HBO’s critically acclaimed series, The Wire.



John Thackara
Designing In A Complex World: Two Talks In Mexico City
Two upcoming talks from John Thackara in Mexico City.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 10.24.13
Design for Information by Isabel Meirelles; A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley by Warren Lehrer; A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps by Chris West; The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-Raising by Jeff Walker and Jennifer McCrea; Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists by Michael Russem


Jez Owen
Branding Terror
A review of Branding Terror, a new book by Artur Beifuss and Francesco Trivini Bellini.



Debbie Millman
Chip Kidd
Legendary book designer Chip Kidd on why his TED talk was the 19 most frightening minutes of his life.


Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.



Debbie Millman
Card Shark (a Poem)
A visual poem from Debbie Millman's new book Self Portrait as Your Traitor.



Observed
Architecture & Design Film Festival in NYC
The Architecture & Design Film Festival is the nation's largest film festival celebrating architecture and design.


Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Brian Eno, Artist of Light
An early profile of ambient musician and producer Brian Eno’s parallel career as a visual artist.


Teddy Blanks, and Andrew Sloat
Design Observer: Ten Years
A short film from Teddy Blanks and Andrew Sloat celebrating the last ten years of Design Observer.


Rick Poynor
New York: City of Spectacular Doors
For six years, Allan Markman crisscrossed New York taking pictures of remarkable doors for a new book.



Observed
Design Is One
Opening Friday at the IFC center: Design is One — Lella and Massimo Vignelli.


Alexandra Lange
Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer
One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 09.26.13
Murals of New York City: The Best of New York's Public Paintings from Bemelmans to Parrish by Glenn Palmer-Smith, Joshua McHugh and Graydon Carter; EP Volume 1/ The Italian Avant-Garde 1968-1976 Edited by Alex Coles, Catharine Rossi; Shiro Kuramata by Deyan Sudjic; Space & Psyche by Elizabeth Danze, Stephen Sonnenberg, Editors; Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert


Alexandra Lange
Learning New Tricks
Harvard doesn't have any design courses, but I've found new friends in "material culture." What it's like for a critic to go back to school.



Observed
Sukkah City Documentary to Premiere in Union Square Park
Sukkah City documentary to premiere in Union Square Park on September 22.



Observed
Let's Talk Movie Posters
Movie poster for the upcoming drama The Gambler.


Rick Poynor
Bohumil Stepan’s Family Album of Oddities
Bohumil Stepan’s Familienalbum presents a series of surreally equipped and irreverently modified collages of his family.



John Thackara
Ways of Knowing
John Thackara's contrubution to the book Gallery of the Senses, that explores the ways we expereince the contemporary world through sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.


Rick Poynor
Bohumil Stepan’s Gallery of Erotic Humor
Mapp Editions has released a digital version of Bohumil Stepan’s Galerie (1968), a surreal collection of collages and drawings about the relationship between the sexes.


John Thackara
Speed? What Speed? The Falcon, by Sebastian Trapp
Field biologist Sebastian Trapp on Frederic the Second's book, On the Art of Hunting with Birds.


Karen Green
Bough Down
An excerpt from Bough Down, Karen Green's transcendent book about surviving her husband's suicide.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 08.29.13
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas; The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley; Build Your Own Brand: Strategies, Prompts and Exercises for Marketing Yourself by Robin Landa; Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen;  Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures by Victor Lombardi


Observed
A Nearly Perfect Book
The poetry critic, the publisher, and the art of bookmaking in a digital era.


John Thackara
Connecting With The Other
A review of Empreintes, by Céline Boyer


Rick Poynor
Collage Now, Part 1: Sergei Sviatchenko
In a crowded field, Sergei Sviatchenko’s highly reductive photo-collages look like his own and no one else’s.


Rick Poynor
Collage Now, Part 2: Cut and Paste Culture
Cut-and-paste culture is booming and collage-making is rampant: paper-based, digital, and all points between.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 08.22.13
Still: American Silent Motion Picture Photography by David S. Shields; Multiple Signatures: On Designers, Authors, Readers and Users by Michael Rock; Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver; Recalculating by Charles Bernstein; Memory Place by Hari Kunzru


Andrew Howard
A Manifesto for Higher Learning
Andrew Howard, MA course director in Communication Design at ESAD — Escola Superior de Artes e Design in Matosinhos, Portugal — shares this with his incoming graduate students each year.


Rick Poynor
Keld Helmer-Petersen: Pioneer of Color
An accessible edition of Keld Helmer-Petersen’s 122 Colour Photographs, a landmark 1948 photobook.


John Bertram
Lolita — The Story of a Cover Girl
Excerpt from Lolita — The Story of a Cover Girl.


Rick Poynor
David Maisel and the Apocalyptic Sublime
David Maisel’s photographs are visions of the Earth as we have never seen it full of beauty and terror.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 08.08.13
Koloman Moser: Designing Modern Vienna 1897-1907 by Christian Witt-Dorring; Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony Townsend; Design: The Groundbreaking Moments by Nina Kozel; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston by Norman Foster and Edward R. Bosley; Willis Faber & Dumas by Norman Foster and Kenneth Powell



Ralph Caplan
The Trip From Bountyful
Ralph Caplan on his first job: staff writer on a putatively satirical magazine just being formed.


Rob Walker
Looking Better, All The Time
Alexandra Horowitz' book On Looking offers a framework, and specific tactics, for smarter seeing.


Debbie Millman
Hartmut Esslinger
Frog design co-founder Hartmut Esslinger talks about working for Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 07.24.13
Architects from A to Z by Paul Cattermole and Simon Forty; Peter Kluska: Landscape Architecture by Peter Kluska; The Designer as: Author, Producer, Activist, Entrepeneur, Curator, and Collaborator: New Models for Communicating by Steven Mccarthy; American Architecture and Urbanism by Vincent Scully; The Shape of. Things. that. Work: The Fourth Architect by Curtis B. Waybe


Alexandra Lange
Nevermind the Masterpiece
What's your "Masterpiece of Everyday New York"? A broken umbrella? A shirtwaist? Discarded gum?


Observed
A Book for Two
A new design for a shared reading experience from designer Soofiya Chaudry.



Debbie Millman
Jean-Louis Cohen
Jean-Louis Cohen reveals a Le Corbusier who was not only a great architect, but also a savvy promoter of his own ideas and work.


John Foster
The Voynich Manuscript
Accidental Mysteries for July 14, 2013 focuses on the rare and undecipherable Voynich manuscript.


Observed
Iron Man 3 Titles
An interesting look at the design process for the Iron Man 3 title screens.


Martha Scotford
Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer
Ernst Reichl, one of the top book designers of the 20th century, was also a prolific writer who wrote more than 550 comments on his book designs.



Observed
Jan van Toorn
A video profile of Jan van Toorn, from the series "Dutch Profiles: Design, Fashion, Architecture".


Alexandra Lange
How To Unforget
The straightforward logic of “A Handbook of California Design” makes it the first step in unforgetting two generations of makers.



Debbie Millman
Michael Rock
Michael Rock about self-hatred in design, the benefits of being an outsider, and his new book.



Observed
Special Summer Series of Design Matters with Debbie Millman
The special series will include interviews with Michael Rock, Jean-Louis Cohen, Brenda Danilowitz and Phillip Tiongson, Harmut Essinger and Leon Krier.


Alexandra Lange
An ABC of the ABCs
Were you a child? Did you read books? Then the NYPL's "ABC of It" serves as a portal back in time.



Michael Bierut
50 Books/50 Covers 2012 Winners Announced
Continuing a tradition that dates back to 1922, we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show.


Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Upgrade Yourself!
If appearances matter more than ever, as we are constantly told, the personal makeover has become our most fundamental design task.



Observed
Flowering Pages
A little-known but remarkable collection of treasures from The Garden Club of America illustrates the activities of the premier American gardening association over the course of a century.



Rob Walker
The Mighty Shirt Kings
Back in the 1980s, a group of artists calling themselves The Mighty Shirt Kings set up shop at the Jamaica Coliseum, in Queens, offering “custom air-brushed and original artwork,” which could be had on canvas, but also pants, jackets, and of course T-shirts. They are the subject of a new book: The Shirt Kings.


Alexandra Lange
Praise the Partner(s)
Salute Denise Scott Brown because she deserves it, but let's not forget the other partners.





Alexandra Lange
Home Improvement
The Sweethome, where Consumer Reports and Amazon product reviews meet.


Rick Poynor
The Irresistible Attraction of Self Storage
Self storage centers are places of private and public fascination and I always knew that one day I would succumb.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 05.30.13
Punk: Chaos to Couture by Andrew Bolton and Richard Hell; Alone in the Forest, by Gita Wolf and Andrea Anastasio; Illustrated by Bhajju Shyam; Facts are Sacred by Simon Rogers; The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle; The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in 17th-Century China edited by Peter C. Sturman and Susan S. Tai



Observed
The Olympic City, Documenting The Remains
Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit visted former Olympic host cities all over the world, documenting what remains — and what does not.


Alexandra Lange
The Fork and the World: Design 101
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?



Observed
Jaws
In honor of Monday's unofficial beginning of summer, a brief history of Roger Kastel's movie poster for Jaws.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 05.23.13
Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs by Larry Keeley and Helen Walters; Close-Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics by Laura Kurgan; Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal; Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living by Todd McLellan; The Essential Robert Indiana by Martin Krause and John Wilmerding


Kit Hinrichs + Delphine Hirasuna
The Alphabet Card
Excerpt from The Alphabet Card, a new book by Kit Hinrichs and Delphine Hirasuna.


Rick Poynor
The Age of Wire and String Rebooted
Granta’s new edition of The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus is a landmark of experimental illustration.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 05.09.13
Vernier: Fashion, Femininity and Form by Robin Muir and Becky Conekin; Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums by Mabel O. Wilson; Maynard L. Parker: Modern Photography and the American Dream, Jennifer A. Watts, Editor; Meme Wars by Kalle Lasn and Adbusters; Designing the Creative Child: Playthings and Places in Midcentury Americaby Amy F. Ogata



Observed
Saul Bass Google Doodle
Google celebreates Saul Bass with a Doodle.



Debbie Millman
Wendy MacNaughton + Caroline Paul
Wendy MacNaughton and Caroline Paul on a journey from advertising to Rwanda to illustration, and from Stanford to firefighter to author.



Observed
The Craft of Design
American Craft's special 2013 design issue is available online or as an iPad app.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 05.02.13
Souvenir Nation by William L. Bird Jr., Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects by Jeanne Gang and Zoë Ryan, Editors, The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science by Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, Matt Lamothe, John Heartfield and the Agitated Image by Andrés Mario Zervigón, The Address Book by Sophie Calle



Observed
FILMography
FILMography, a blog dedicated to matching scenes from movies with their real life locations


Owen Edwards
The 99 Factor: A Man About Town + Country
Owen Edwards reminisces about Frank Zachary, former editor-in-chief of Town & Country magazine.



Observed
Book Trade Labels
Book trade labels are advertising artifacts from booksellers, binders, printers, publishers, importers, and distributors of books.


Rick Poynor
On the Trail of The Eater of Darkness
The Eater of Darkness is a collision of science fiction, murder mystery, Surrealism and experimental typography.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 04.25.13
Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine; Norman Bel Geddes Designs America by Donald Albrecht: The Complete Engraver: Monograms, Crests, Ciphers, Seals, and The Etiquette of Social Stationary by Nancy Sharon Collins; Sky High by Germano Zullo; Brooklyn Makers: Food, Design, Craft and Other Scenes from the Tactile Life by Jennifer Causey


Mark Lamster
The Bush Library
A review of the Bush Library.



Observed
Awful Library Books
Awful Library Books is a collection of amusing and/or questionable library holdings found in real libraries and curated by librarians Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 04.18.13
Between Page and Screen by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse; Design for Emotion by Trevor van Gorp and Edie Adams; Material Manifestations by Rensselaer Architecture, Shaker Museum Mt. Lebanon; A Topology of Everyday Constellatons by Georges Teyssot; An Intellectual's Visual Miscellany by Daniel P. Murphy, PhD


Rob Walker
Cover Story
A book vs. its cover: Why Colubmia GSAPP students treated this year's architecture annual like garbage.



Observed
Bringing Data and Storytelling Together
In a guest post on the Tribeca Film Institute blog, Ingrid Kopp, the U.S. Director of Shooting People, explores the reltionship between data ans storytelling.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 04.11.13
Various writer's Eye On A Century; I Used To Be A Design Student by Frank Philippin and Billy Kiosoglou; Work For Money, Design For Love by David Airey; See What I Mean : How to Use Comics to Communicate Ideas by Kevin Cheng; Content Everywhere by Sara Wachter-Boettcher



Observed
Czech Book Covers of the 1920's and 30's
The Smithsonian has an engaging collection of Czech avant-garde book cover designs from the 1920s and 30s.


Rick Poynor
The Practical Virtue of Works That Work
Works That Work magazine reclaims the word “creativity” from the stultifying embrace of branding culture and design thinking.



Observed
Rick Poynor: Writing with Pictures
Rick Poynor is increasingly preoccupied, as a photographer, with making images himself and will speak about it at a DCrit lecture April 9, 2013.



Observed
Flickr Collection of the Week: The Library
The Library is a curated Flickr gallery of antique books.



Observed
Ann Weber Dumpster Dives in Rome
A film by Nick Heller about Ann Weber, a California-based artist who currently works primarily in cardboard.



Observed
Classic Albums Reimagined as Books
Christophe Gowans re-imagines well-known album covers as book jackets.



Observed
Recent Books Received: 03.26.13
"Dialog" : What Makes a Great Partnership, Philosophy of Design, The Cinema of Me, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli's Field and Ken Garland: Structure and Substance



Rob Walker
Google Image Search Results, Abstracted and Animated
Rob Walker has created a video of his image abstraction Tumblr.



Debbie Millman
ON! at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati
In this special Design Matters video episode, Debbie Millman gives you on a preview the new exhibit ON! at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati.



Observed
Flickr Collection of the Week: Bladerunner Magazines
The world of Bladerunner showcases some of the most elaborate production design in film history, all the way down to its magazine covers.



Observed
Educate Girls and Change the World
Girl Rising — a new documentary from Oscar nominated filmmaker Richard E. Robbins — consists of nine different girl’s stories of how education factored into her life circumstances.



Observed
Found: National Geographic
In honor of their 125th anniversary, National Geographic is showcasing photographs that reveal cultures and moments of the past.



Observed
SVA/BBC Design Film Festival
Overview of the second annual SVA/BBC Design Film Festival.



Philip Nobel
Oops: Understanding Failure
A review of To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, by Henry Petroski.



Observed
The Artist is Present
Marina Abramović and Ulay



Debbie Millman
Steven Heller
Steven Heller discusses his new ebook, Design Cult, and reflects on what designers have in common with Harvey Weinstein.



Observed
Movie Title Stills Collection
A roundup of movie related things for a dreary Wednsday.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Fin de Copenhague
Asger Jorn and Guy Debord’s book Fin de Copenhague is a Situationist classic and a brilliant piece of design.



Observed
The Me Bird
The Me Bird: Brazilian Design Studio, 18bis, Reinterprets Neruda Poem



Observed
The Covers of Time
90 years of the cover of Time in 120 seconds.


John Foster
The Proper Art of Writing in 1655
Accidental Mysteries for March 03, 2013 focuses on the proper art of writing in 1655.



Observed
A Million Times
'A million times' by Stockholm based studio Humans since 1982.



Chris Calori
Six Feet Under: Mapping Tangled Transit Networks
A review of Underground Maps Unraveled: Explorations in Information Design by Maxwell J. Roberts.



Observed
Dual Perspective Videos
Two videos that show two stories happening simultaneously in different places to different people.



Observed
Vivian Maier: The Movie
A documentary is being made about John Maloofs discovery of Vivian Maier's street photographs.


Rick Poynor
The Experiential Thrill of Driving in Films
A new book, Drive, shows how the car scenes in movies help us understand the experience of modernity.


Alexandra Lange
Patterns of Houston
How do you critique the urbanism of Houston? Look for patterns.



Observed
Filming Love in Times Square
From 11:57pm on February 13th until 12am February 14th British artist Tracey Emin turned Times Square into a big Valentine's Day card.





Alexandra Lange
Why Bernadette Fox Is Scary
The heroine of Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an award-winning female architect. Don’t envy her life.



Observed
Voice Over
Voice Over: A short film directed by Martin Rosete.


Adam Harrison Levy
Dylan Stone: 100 Years
Adam Harrison Levy reviews Dylan Stone's exhibition of 100 years of personal pocket diaries at Ruth Phaneuf Fine Art.


Alexandra Lange
Balthazar Korab, RIP
Tribute to architectural photographer Balthazar Korab, and a discussion of what made him different from contemporary Ezra Stoller.



Observed
A Two-Minute Walk Through The Louvre
A Two-Minute Walk Through the Louvre


Rick Poynor
Socialism and Modernity: A Hidden History
A new book documents the unfamiliar history of socialism and modernity in graphic design from former Yugoslavia.


Alexandra Lange
Kicked A Building Lately?
That question, the title of the 1976 collection of Ada Louise Huxtable’s work for the New York Times, embodies her approach to criticism.



Observed
Poster Design with Saul Bass and Stanley Kubrick
Saul Bass designed the movie poster for The Shining, but not without plenty of comments from Stanley Kubrick.


Alexandra Lange
George Nelson in Two Dimensions
Ignore the Coconuts and Marshmallows, admire George Nelson's modular graphics.


John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Manly Palmer Hall's 1928 encyclopedic work — The Secret Teachings of All Ages — earned him worldwide acclaim led to a lifetime of lectures, awards and recognition. 


Rick Poynor
On My Screen: Shooting the Past
Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the Past, set in a fictitious photo library, is a film that could haunt you for years.


Rob Walker
What Does ‘The Cover of Time’ Mean?
The cover of Time Magazine may not speak with authority in the nonstop news cycle. But what does?


Alexandra Lange
Bad Taste True Confessions: Erté
True confessions about my own bad taste. I loved Erté. Did you?



Debbie Millman
Jake Barton
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Jake Barton discusses wanting to be a doctor, how he became a media designer and how to get people to interact.


Rob Walker
Tracking War Drones
Online projects that seek to make the drone war comprehensible.


Rob Walker
The Latest In Journo-Comics
The New tablet magazine Symbolia debuts, a worthy additoin to today's vibrant nonfiction comics scene.



Observed
Visualizing Mass Transit
Andrew Walker has visualized the mass-transit systems of major cities.



Observed
The Cheetah at 1200 Frames per Second
The Cheetah at 1200 Frames per Second



Observed
Clearing Landmines with Windpower
Clearing Landmines with Windpower


Alexandra Lange
Knolling Your Polling Place
Knolling your polling place: for the next election, a little spatial organization would go a long way.


Leonard Koren
Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
An except from Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing by Leonard Koren.


Alexandra Lange
Dot Supreme
On the enduring power of the simplest shape, from corporations to children’s books.



Observed
Climate of Doubt
A documentary on the remarkable — and sometimes bizarre — debate over global warming and climate change that has gone on since 2008.



Observed
They Go To Die
They Go to Die is a documentary film-in-progress investigating the life of four former migrant gold mineworkers in South Africa and Swaziland who have contracted drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and HIV while working at the gold mine.


Rick Poynor
True Stories: A Film about People Like Us
Ambiguous but prescient, David Byrne’s film True Stories is a classic piece of postmodern pop anthropology.



Observed
Design Indaba Online FilmFest
Design Indaba's online film festival features 10 of the Focus Forward short films.



Debbie Millman
Chris Ware
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Chris Ware discusses his influences – including sending a Valentine to Charlie Brown – and explains why empathy figures so heavily into his work.


Louise Sandhaus
Merle Armitage: Daddy of a Sunbaked Modernism
Louise Sandhaus's profile of book designer Merle Armitage.



Observed
NYC Architecture Design Film Festival
Now in its fourth season, the Architecture Design Film Festival will offer more than 25 films from around the world and panel discussions with design leaders and filmmakers.



Observed
Unbored
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun from Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen features 350 pages of projects, games, and information for kids aged 8-13, and their parents.


Alexandra Lange
Shopping With Sandro, and Other Tumblr Delights
Digitizing the Miller House Collection, and other museum and corporate visual archives on Tumblr.



Observed
Selling the Sixties
Like Mad Men? Then you'll have to see Selling the Sixties from filmmaker and Design Observer contributor Adam Harrison Levy. Screening October 9, followed by a discussion between the filmmaker and Jessica Helfand.


Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
Blocks, rocket ships, playgrounds and balls: the hidden meaning of playthings at the Museum of Modern Art.


Rick Poynor
The Museum of Communicating Objects
Orhan Pamuk’s The Innocence of Objects is an illuminating guide to his Museum of Innocence in Istanbul.


Jude Stewart
The World’s Smashing-est Kids’ TV Show
A review of Karambolage, a kids’ television show produced by ARTE, a French-German arts and culture channel.


Alexandra Lange
Let’s Talk About Women in Architecture
A panel on Women in Design, and questions about whether such panels should exist.


Alexandra Lange
Just Keep Typing
An excerpt from the new book Breakthrough! Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination that involves Post-It notes, legal pads and baking. 



Observed
Uncreative Writing
Rob Walker recommends Kenneth Goldsmith's "Uncreative Writing".


Rick Poynor
John Stezaker: Images from a Lost World
John Stezaker’s collages, recipients of a major photography prize, achieve great resonance with limited means.


Louise Fili
A Life in Letters
An excerpt from Louise Fili's Elegantissima.


Rick Poynor
It’s Smart to Use a Crash Test Dummy
The image of the crash test dummy has traveled from the subcultural fringes to the pop culture mainstream.


John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Accidental Mysteries is an online curiosity shop of extraordinary things, mined from the depths of the online world and brought to you each week by John Foster, a writer, designer and longtime collector of self-taught art and vernacular photography. This week's focus is American Reading Primers.


Rob Walker
Focusing On ‘Optics’
Optics: The indispensible buzzword for those who analyze pseudo-events.


Owen Edwards
Homage to Helen Gurley Brown
Owen Edwards remembers Helen Gurley Brown.



Observed
Design Film Festival at Venice Biennale
Attendees of the upcoming 2012 Venice Biennale will have the chance to catch the first-ever Design Onscreen Film Festival.



Alexandra Lange
Critics Critical Criticism
Meta-criticism all over the blogosphere (but why only about books?)


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: André Breton’s Nadja
The Livre de poche edition of André Breton’s Surrealist classic Nadja remains the best visual interpretation of the book.


Rob Walker
High Caliber Expression
Reading Richard Ford's response to a critic (by shooting her book) as an expressive act.



Observed
Swimming Studies
Leanne Shapton is known for her work as a writer and illustrator, but it turns out that her new book, Swimming Studies, is animated by her abilities as an athlete.



Observed
Merce Cunningham: The App
Aperture's Merce Cunningham: 65 Years is a monograph in the form of a dynamic and interactive iPad app.


Rick Poynor
Sending Signals about Political Graphics
Issue two of Signal, a journal about the visual languages used around the world to support political protest.


Rick Poynor
Pierre Faucheux and Le Livre de Poche
A masterclass in book cover design: Pierre Faucheux’s work for the French paperback publisher Livre de poche.



Observed
A Bathroom Mirror
Le Miroir is a remarkable piece of mini-cinema, employing masterful filmic artistry to encapsulate one man's life, from childhood to old age, through the lens of his bathroom mirror.



Observed
Arial vs Helvetica: War is Hell
The type world just isn't big enough for the both Arial and Helvetica. So what happens when they go to war?



The Editors
50 Books/50 Covers Competition: Enter Today
Since 1924, the 50 Books/50 Covers book design competition has been a yearly mainstay of the AIGA. We are pleased to announce that this important design competition is now being hosted by Design Observer. Enter today.


Rick Poynor
Brian Eno’s “Music for Films”
On Brian Eno and a competition to design an alternative sleeve for Music for Films


Rick Poynor
What Does Critical Writing Look Like?
A report on work by the first graduates from the Royal College of Art’s Critical Writing in Art & Design MA.



Observed
A Public Service Announcement: Collecting Air
A public service spot for the American Lung Association, “Alvin Grimes, Air Collector,” features him with his collection.


Rick Poynor
Updating the Maps of Graphic Design History
Graphic Design: History in the Writing is a heartening sign that graphic design history is attracting a new generation.


Alexandra Lange
The Charismatic Megafauna of Design
Identifying the "charismatic megafauna" of design and the critical uses of their popularity.






Observed
Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy
Rob Walker recommendeds Dave Hickey's "Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy".


Alexandra Lange
Introducing Strelka Press
On Strelka Press, a new "digital first" publisher of longform architecture and design criticism.



Observed
31,000 Flights Over Holland
Mind Design in Amsterdam recently visualized Dutch air traffic in a short animated film.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: A History of the Machine
Erik Nitsche’s New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention is a landmark of modern, low-cost, mass-market, educational book design.



Observed
Hillman Curtis Celebration Benefit
A Hillman Curtis celebration benefit has been organized by his friends and colleagues.


Rob Walker
The Theater of Making
What videos depicting the story of stuff-being-made are really about.



Observed
The Architecture of Television
Brandi Roberts is an interior designer by training and TV afficionado by choice who draws fictional floorplans of classic television shows.


Rob Walker
Managing Digital Durability
Learning to manage the disconcerting durability of digital objects.


Alexandra Lange
The Mother of Us All
Reyner Banham on Esther McCoy: "She speaks as she finds, with sympathy and honesty, and relevantly to the matter at hand." Could there be a better definition of the role of the critic?



Observed
A Pattern Language
Alexandra Lange reviews A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander.



Jessica Helfand, and OBlog
Page One: Great Expectations




Observed
The Visual Language of Herbert Matter
Known as a quintessential designer's designer, Swiss born Herbert Matter is largely credited with expanding the use of photography as a design tool and bringing the semantics of fine art into the realm of applied arts.


Rick Poynor
Phil Sayer, Designer of Photo-Portraits
Phil Sayer’s photographic portraits for Blueprint gave the magazine great visual impact and presence.



Observed
James Victore's Q&A Tuesday
James Victore is presenting a weekly YouTube series – Q+A Tuesday – in which he addresses a questions about working in a creative industry.


Rick Poynor
The Closed Shop of Design Academia
Shouldn’t it be part of a design academic’s brief to communicate more widely with the design profession and public?


John Thackara
‘Beyond Good Intentions’ – The Movie
A new documentary hopes to answer the question "What happens in a disaster area after the initial wave of support?"



Debbie Millman
Roman Mars
Radio producer Roman Mars discusses the connection between ’zines and radio, why he ditched science and the reason he named his show “99% Invisible”.


Alexandra Lange
Frank Lloyd Wright + Katniss Everdeen
On photographing architecture as sculpture and telling stories via architecture.


Laura Weiss
Woody Allen, Creative Management Genius
Woody Allen's movie-making process offers three insights that have application to anyone who leads a creative enterprise or manages a creative process.


Michael Erard
The Elements – Molecules, Atoms and Quarks – of Style
The cipher shared by great poets and the best brand namers is essentially that the littlest things mean the most.


Rick Poynor
The Covers of J.G. Ballard’s Crash: An Update
Some recent covers of J.G. Ballard’s disturbing Crash, a notoriously hard novel for designers to interpret.


John Thackara
It’s Not Just The Bags
Design + Craft: The Brazilian Path by Adelia Borges explores the complex relationship between designers from the Northern hemishphere and indigenous artists in the Southern hemisphere, specifically craft communities in Brazil.


Rick Poynor
Motif Magazine: The World Made Visible
Motif magazine, founded in 1958, anticipated a new way of seeing, documenting and appreciating the “visible world.”


Alexandra Lange
Downton Abbey: Fell In Love With a House
Downton Abbey, for all its melodrama and dropped teacups, is really the story of falling in love with a house.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: A Classic by Berger and Mohr
John Berger and Jean Mohr’s A Fortunate Man brilliantly fuses words and photos to examine a doctor’s life.


Rick Poynor
The Evil Genius of David Shrigley
British artist David Shrigley, subject of a major exhibition in London, is forever tempting and testing the viewer.



Debbie Millman
Malcolm Gladwell
A live episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman withe special guest Malcolm Gladwell.


Rick Poynor
In Response to An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Alexandra Lange’s article in Print about the sacred cows of graphic design sidesteps the issue it raises.



Adam Harrison Levy
A History Of The World In 100 Objects
Adam Harrison Levy reviews the book A History Of The World In 100 Objects.


Rick Poynor
Ernst Haas and the Color Underground
Has Ernst Haas, an early master of color photography, received the credit his ground-breaking pictures deserve?



Michael Erard
Imaging the Brain
Using geographical visuals to understand the brain.



Pat Kirkham
Reassessing the Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock Collaboration
The evidence, scholarship and debates: Saul Bass and the famous shower scene in “Psycho.”


Rick Poynor
Read All That? You Must be Kidding Me
Ellen Lupton’s essay about reading and writing for Graphic Design: Now in Production misses some key points.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Jean-Luc Godard Anthologized
Lawrence Ratzkin’s cover design for an early anthology about Jean-Luc Godard is almost an anti-cover.


Rick Poynor
How We Learned to Live with Zombies
Zombie films, zombie walks, zombie shops, zombie TV series: our darkest fears are now mainstream.


Alexandra Lange
Girard the Magnificent
Is it enough to be gorgeous? If so, Todd Oldham and Keira Coffee's 15-pound Alexander Girard wins Book of the Year.


Rick Poynor
Another Design Voice Falls Silent
As design criticism takes off as a branch of academic study, design publications such as Grafik keep closing.



Debbie Millman
Peter Mendelsund
In this podcast interview with Debbie Millman, Peter Mendelsund discusses how he became a book designer and his fear of the Kindle and iPad.



John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.


Rick Poynor
Man in a Bowler: Illustration after Magritte
By copying Magritte’s subject matter and method, illustrators ended up making a great artist look hackneyed.


Alexandra Lange
Cooking with the Eameses
A new book chronicles one family's life with nine pieces of Eames.


Rick Poynor
How to Cover an Impossible Book
Tadeusz Borowski’s book This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen poses a visual challenge for designers.



Michael Erard
What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook
The author writes about the genre you could call the Social Media Exile essay.


Rick Poynor
Literary Horror from the Chapman Brothers
British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman have created an image of sublime horror for the cover of Granta magazine.


Rick Poynor
This Post has Been Declared a Link-free Zone
Links can greatly enrich an online text, but are they also a counterproductive distraction from reading?


Alexandra Lange
Lessons from the High Line
How can the High Line become a new paradigm, and not a dead end?


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Continuum’s 33 1/3 Series
The 33 1/3 books about classic albums are a perfect example of how design can help focus an editorial idea.


Alexandra Lange
Tell Me a Story, ‘Urbanized’
A city is not a font or a toothbrush, so why, in Urbanized, does director Gary Hustwit treat them the same way?


William Drenttel
National Design Award Trophy
In October 2011, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum unveiled a new trophy for the National Design Awards. Originally designed as an asterisk in silicon carbide by Winterhouse in 2000, the new glass trophy is by Corning GlassLab.


Mark Lamster
Watching Movies about Architecture (and Design)
What makes a good film about architecture and design?


Rick Poynor
Did We Ever Stop Being Postmodern?
Like it or not, argues the V&A's exhibition about postmodernism and design, we are all postmodern now.


Rick Poynor
Jan Svankmajer and the Graphic Uncanny
Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design opens at the Kunstal in Rotterdam on September 24.


Alexandra Lange
What the Cooper-Hewitt Needs: More Design, Less Talk
My six suggestions for how to fix the National Design Museum.



Alice Twemlow
Remembering Richard Hamilton as Design Critic
Alice Twemlow remembers Richard Hamilton, artist and design writer.


Alexandra Lange
Thinking in Tumblr
Don't write a book, make a Tumblr.


Rick Poynor
A Swedish Perspective on Critical Practice
The Reader, a recent book from Stockholm about critical practice, has some smart insights while missing the bigger picture.


Rick Poynor
Chris Foss and the Technological Sublime
Is cult science fiction artist Chris Foss’s work just highly effective illustration, or can it be seen as a visionary form of art?


Alexandra Lange
Announcing LetsGetCritical.org
My new blog collects the best arts & culture criticism, essays and reviews.



William Drenttel, and Jessica Helfand
Late Summer Reading
In the late summer, we share a reading list first published in Frieze magazine, April 2011.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: The Metallization of a Dream
The best designed book about the artist Eduardo Paolozzi was compiled in 1963 by a student at the Royal College of Art.


Alexandra Lange
Up From Zero, the Novel
A post-9/11 fiction scooped by reality.



Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Dickens the Magician
A selection of recorded broadcasts read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. The last of four installments.



Tom Vanderbilt
Interface Time
Review of "Talk to Me" at Museum of Modern Art



Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Taking it on the Chin
A recorded broadcast read and authored by Ricky Jay — along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. The third of four installments.


Alexandra Lange
Reading in Public
A new book club with an unusual topic: architecture and design.



Mark Lamster
An Interview with Laurence King
Mark Lamster interviews Laurence King, the publisher.



Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Twins
Design Observer is pleased to share a selection of recorded broadcasts, all read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. This is the second of four installments.


John Thackara
Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It
I have never encountered a book that is so hard to characacterise yet so hard, despite its weight, to put down.



Ricky Jay
Celebrations of Curious Characters: Calculations
A recorded broadcast read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. First of four installments.


Alexandra Lange
The Uses of Cranks
Maybe comedy isn't Larry David's calling.



Laura Weiss
What We Can Learn from Project Runway
As 'Project Runway' launches its 9th season, a designer muses on what she's learned.


Rick Poynor
Andrzej Klimowski: Transmitting the Image
Andrzej Klimowski, author of a new book, On Illustration, has used the medium to create a compelling alternative reality.


Alexandra Lange
Jane Austen, Landscape Architect
Trapped by a ha-ha: bad romance and good landscapes in Mansfield Park.



Michael Erard
Notes on Getting the Daily Newspaper
Michael Erard tells of the experience of sharing the physical newspaper with his son.



Jane Margolies
My Block NYC
My Block NYC, a new video-mapping website, invites residents, tourists and videographers to upload clips they’ve taken on the streets of New York.


Alexandra Lange
Making Dieter Rams
Why is Braun still the best?


Rick Poynor
The House That Design Journalism Built
Printed design magazines continue to fail and close. Where does that leave design writing and criticism?



William Drenttel
William Drenttel at Design Indaba




Jessica Helfand, and Marvin Heiferman
On the Shoulders of Midgets: A Conversation About Reality TV
A conversation about reality TV with Marvin Heiferman and Jessica Helfand.



Adam Harrison Levy
Jump Cut: Thoughts on Editing
What can designers, architects and writers learn from the art of film editing?


Rick Poynor
The Dictionary as Art Concept
A new Magritte exhibition catalogue is not the first to take the form of a dictionary. How important is originality when it comes to book design?


Alexandra Lange
Welcome to the Hall of Femmes
How should we celebrate women in design, past, present, future?


Rick Poynor
Speculative Fiction, Speculative Design
The cover of England Swings SF is one of those prescient imaginative leaps that vaulted so far it disappeared from the historical record.



Julie Lasky
Between Two Convex Mirrors: A Conversation with Tomi Ungerer
Interview with illustrator and book artist Tomi Ungerer.



Josh Berta
Cars: Pixar Falls for Intelligent Design
Cars: Pixar's greatest misstep in design, and perhaps film in general.


Alexandra Lange
Jane Austen, Architect?
Why is Austen next to Ballard on the Designers & Books lists?


Rick Poynor
On the Threshold of Sebald’s Room
Daniel Blaufuks is haunted by a picture of an office in W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. Where did it come from and what does it show?



Stephen Doyle
Infrastructure
A stop-animation film with 2,933 still photos created by Doyle Partners for Green Building Council's conference, Greenbuild Next.



Jez Owen
Behind the Zines
A review of the book Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture published by Gestalten.



Jane Margolies
How to Start a Movement
Interview with movement entrepreneur Jeremy Heimans, founder of Purpose.com.


Steven Heller, and Louise Fili
For the Love of Scripts
“No one person ever invented an alphabet,” wrote Type-maven Tommy Thompson.
Script typefaces are no exception. During the letterpress era they were in such great demand that many people “invented” them, and many others copied them.



Matthew Stadler
Publication Studio: What’s It Like?
On any given day the storefront is home to book production, bookstore, endless packing and shipping, a half-dozen hangers-on, curious drop-ins, lost tourists: a composite day in the life of Publication Studio, Portland.


Rick Poynor
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?
A DVD cover for the classic film noir Kiss Me Deadly uses the blindingly obvious symbol that just keeps on giving.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Stefan Lorant’s Lilliput
Stefan Lorant’s use of photos in pairs could be wry, funny, bizarre, whimsical, satirical and not always kind.



Andrew Sloat
Winterhouse: A Video
A short film about Winterhouse, the studio of William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand. It was made for the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2010. Film written and directed by Andrew Sloat.


Michael Bierut
Designing, Writing, Teaching: Not My Real Job
Michael Bierut gives an outline of his life and work: a video for a D-Crit lecture at SVA in NYC.


Rick Poynor
A Dream World Made by Machines
Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a complex, demanding, audacious piece of television.



Susan Roy
Better Homes & Bunkers: The Fallout Shelter for the Nuclear Family
An excerpt from the book Better Homes & Bunkers: The Fallout Shelter for the Nuclear Family by Susan Roy.


Rick Poynor
Unearthly Powers: Surrealism and SF
Richard Powers, auteur of the paperback cover, was a key figure linking science fiction and Surrealism.


Michael Bierut
Seven Things Designers Can Learn from Stand Up Comics
Stand up comedy, a high-risk creative enterprise, has interesting lessons for designers.


Rick Poynor
Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read
The Designers & Books website has published my list of 20 indispensable books about graphic design.


John Thackara
Open: A Survival Issue
A new book from the Dutch publisher Bis, Open Design Now, includes essays, cases and visuals on various issues of Open Design.


Rick Poynor
On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
John Heyer’s The Back of Beyond, made for Shell Australia in 1954, is one of the country’s finest films.



Ernest Beck
Hard Times for Hard Copy
Why AIGA almost scuttled its most venerable design competition: 50 Books/50 Cover.


Rick Poynor
Wim Wenders’ Strange and Quiet Places
The massive photographs in film director Wim Wenders’ new exhibition work best when they serve his painterly eye.



Hugh Dubberly
892 Unique Ways to Partition A 3x4 Grid
A 100-second Animation Inspired by Patent No. 7124360.


Alexandra Lange
City Beautiful of Kazakhstan
Why is Norman Foster the go-to guy for new capitals?


Rick Poynor
Stewart Mackinnon: Ruptured and Remade
Why, at the height of his early success, did a brilliant British illustrator decide to walk away and what happened next?



Rob Walker
On Radiolab: the Sound of Science
“Radiolab,” a public radio show that breaks from public radio sensibilities, not least in its striking sound.


Alexandra Lange
Muddying the Waters
Explore New York's watery edges with the graduating class at D-Crit.


William Drenttel
Design of Crime, Evil and Death
Buried in our Winterhouse library are numerous books with "design" in the title — things like Death by Design, Design for Dying and Design in Evil.




Eva D. Blake
Design Observer Group Buys Huffington Post
This deal follows closely on the heels of the announcement in February that struggling AOL would buy Huffington, one of the most heavily visited news websites in the country.



Alan Thomas
Calcutta: Bookland
Alan Thomas, at the Kolkata Book Fair.


John Thackara
Collapse of Civilization Tango
They say that the last days of Rome were culturally rich — and the same seems to be the case in our own times.


John Thackara
From Bankster HQ to Start-up Central in Iceland
The Start-Up Kids is a documentary about young entrepreneurs who have founded web and media startups in the US and Europe.



Erik Spiekermann
Erik Spiekermann - Putting Back the Face into Typeface
In this video, Erik Spiekermann discusses his process and methods for designing type.


Julie Lasky
Lit from Above
Kindle be damned. The love affair between designers and printed books is a smoldering thing. Consider the outcry that followed AIGA’s proposal to fold its 86-year-old “50 Books/50 Covers” show into the broader stewpot of an annual multidisciplinary design competition. Or consider Designers and Books, a website that publishes the reading lists of eminent tastemakers.


John Thackara
Images de Pensée
Darwin, Freud, Descartes, Goethe, Klee, Beuys, Marinetti, Nabokov, among others, left behind these “images of thought.”



David Antin
Bomb Hanoi: The Andy Warhol Cover
Art critic David Antin remembers working with Andy Warhol on the “Bomb Hanoi” cover of some/thing in 1966…



Alexandra Lange
Reading Out Loud
The disappearing physical on-ramps to reading.



Julie Lasky
Alex Steffen: Worldchanging II
Interview with Alex Steffen on the new edition of his book Worldchanging



Debbie Millman
Alina Wheeler
Philadelphia-based designer Alina Wheeler discusses branding, strategic imagination and her new book, Brand Atlas, co-authored with Joel Katz.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Richard Neville’s Playpower
Martin Sharp’s cover design is a garden of queasily decadent delights where the joke is probably on the reader.



Meena Kadri
Yoza
Yoza stories are directed to African youth who are book-poor yet mobile-rich.


Alexandra Lange
Neat Freaks
Organizing things neatly = what IBM, Ray Eames, Herbert Matter and Tumblr have in common.



Mark Lamster
An Empire State of Mind
Join in a running commentary on Andy Warhol's film "Empire," at MoMA.


Alexandra Lange
I Was an Unhappy Hipster
In a renovation by an architect, for a critic, the bookshelves can be a battleground.


Michael Bierut
Five Years of 100 Days
Five years of a 100 day workshop taught by Michael Bierut at the Yale School of Art.


Rick Poynor
A Journal with No Fear of Flying
The Drawbridge’s change of visual direction is one of the most dramatic ever ventured by a literary magazine.


John Thackara
Ultra Modern
I dislike the word “Glocal,” I also dislike the word “Creative,” now a new word has come along to bug me: “Sustainism.”


Rick Poynor
What Does J.G. Ballard Look Like?
J.G. Ballard was one of those rare writers whose vision inspired a new adjective. What is a “Ballardian” image and how have designers and image-makers interpreted it?


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Nairn’s London
Inside the architecture critic Ian Nairn’s classic, idiosyncratic guide to London’s buildings and spaces.



Jessica Helfand
Certificate of Approval
Jessica Helfand writes about her favorite piece of design.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Down in the Trenches with Kenneth FitzGerald
Adrian Shaughnessy reviews of Kenneth FitzGerald’s new book Volume: Writing on Graphic Design, Music, Art and Culture.


Rick Poynor
Discovered by Chance in a Paris Arcade
What better way to pass a couple of spare hours in Paris than to visit the covered arcades that were, for the Surrealists, some of the best places to encounter the marvellous?



Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut on Clients
A video of Michael Bierut giving a talk on the subject of clients.



Alexandra Lange
How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Eameses?
Alexandra Lange reviews the book The Story of Eames Furniture, by Marilyn Neuhart with John Neuhart (Gestalten, 2010).


Alexandra Lange
Bring Back Braids
The True Grit of hairstyles: braids.


John Thackara
Plan B "Best Architecture Book of the Year" in the Netherlands
My book Plan B: Ontwerpen in een Complexe Wereld (Plan B: Designing In A Complex World) has been selected by the influential magazine de Architect as their best architecture book of the year.


Alexandra Lange
From the Cabat to the City
Is Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier an industrial designer trapped in the fashion world?


Rick Poynor
Surrealism in the Pre-School Years
A poet described postcards as a “Lilliputian hallucination of the world”: he must have seen the surreal babies.


Alexandra Lange
Shopping D/R at Etsy
Want to recreate D/R this Christmas? Etsy provides the goods.



Rick Poynor
W.G. Sebald: Writing with Pictures
How do the great German writer's notoriously tricky visual fictions compare with reality?



Maria Popova
Helping People Help Their Narratives
Interview with Andrew McGregor, founder of The Tiziano Project



Julie Lasky
Ripped from the Headlines
Johnny Selman is a third of the way through his year-long project to graphically enliven the news.


Mark Lamster
British Incursion
Stirling, Foster, and a new association with the Architectural Review.


Alexandra Lange
Throw Pillows As Character
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand shows how novelists can use decor, and development, as character.



Carl Schoonover
Portraits of the Mind
The book, Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (Abrams) documents this overlooked dimension over two millennia of obsession with the brain.


Michael Bierut
At the Movies with Javier Mariscal
Chico & Rita is a new animated film by Spanish designer Javier Mariscal and director Fernando Trueba.


Rick Poynor
The Impossibility of an Island
Atlas of Remote Islands might look like a celebration of distant paradises. Its beauty masks a darker purpose.


Alexandra Lange
No Rest at the Last Supper
"Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway" is indeed a dud: cheese-tastic, bombastic, didactic.



Steven Heller, and Elaine Lustig Cohen
Designer as Author
In 1954, Alvin Lustig gave a lecture titled “What Is a Designer?” at the Advertising Typographers Association of America. It was his first speech after he lost his eyesight.


Rick Poynor
On My Screen: Bill Morrison’s Decasia
The avant-garde classic Decasia, assembled from decaying film stock, is a sublime vision of another reality.


Mark Lamster
The Ugliest Object I Have Ever Owned
What's the ugliest object you've ever owned (and loved)?


Nancy Levinson
Art Talks
Adam Lowe and Peter Greenaway at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City; Justin Partyka and Sir Terry Farrell at Eleven Spitalfields in London,



The Editors
Holiday Books 2010
Recommended books by Design Observer writers for the 2009 holiday season.


Alexandra Lange
Criticism Kerfuffle 2010
There are people trying to write their way to a future of architecture criticism. But it isn't just the writing that's the problem.


Nancy Levinson
News/Print
The Last Newspaper, New City Reader, Newsstand: Print news may be dying, but it's alive in the galleries.


Rick Poynor
Rethinking Conceptual Type Design
In Copenhagen last week, the organizers of “Conceptual Type — Type Led by Ideas” posed the question: “Where are the idealistic fonts, the fonts that are frontiers of new belief?”



Edward Morris, and Dmitri Siegel
Destroy This Book
The Green Patriot Posters project looked to the graphic design and artistic communities for ways to invigorate and mobilize people to remake our economy for a more sustainable future.



Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut on Typography
In a video interview with The Atlantic, Michael Bierut talks about typography.


Rick Poynor
What Does H. P. Lovecraft Look Like?
In a gilded age of adaptations: films, TV series, theatrical productions, H. P. Lovecraft’s short novel At the Mountains of Madness, is re-envisioned for a new generation.



Mark Lamster
Boom Goes Pop
Mark Lamster reviews Irma Boom's book, Irma Boom — Biography in Books.


Nancy Levinson
Greenaway at the Armory
Peter Greenaway's Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.


Rick Poynor
Design Writing from Down Under
A new issue of The National Grid arrives in the mail. You’ve never seen it? You are missing a treat.


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Surrealism Permanent Revelation
This post is the first in an occasional series. The idea is to revisit a book from my bookshelf.


Rick Poynor
An App for the Self-Replacing Book
British artist Tom Phillips’A Humument, must be one of the most successful artist’s books ever published. Now, in an entirely logical development, comes The Humument app for the iPad.



Kathleen Meaney
The Library: A Museum
The library at North Carolina State University is laden with gold. Books that seem "rare" or simply too special for public shelving have been, in my mind, erroneously stacked and "dewey decimaled".


John Thackara
Leave Nothing But Footsteps
“Take nothing but memories” Kalack concludes “and leave nothing but footsteps”.



Jessica Helfand, and Marian Bantjes
The Bantjes Covers
Marian Bantjes exposes the long process that led to the cover of her new monograph, I Wonder.


John Thackara
From Easter Island to Three Mile Island
You don't need to know how a combustion engine works to drive your car to work. Why should you need to know anything about the programming behind the pixels just to get around the web?





Andrew Blauvelt
Designer Finds History, Publishes Book
Andrew Blauvelt takes stock of the graphic design history movement that began in the 1980s.



BUCK
Trailer for Film: Waiting for Superman
The amazing trailer for the new film, Waiting for Superman — produced entirely in info-graphics by Buck.



Debbie Millman
Milton Glaser
An interview with Milton Glaser — graphic designer, illustrator, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and 2010 recipient of the National Medal of Arts.



Leonard Koren
Which “Aesthetics” Do You Mean?
An excerpt from Leonard Koren's new book Which “Aesthetics” do You Mean?: Ten Definitions



Maria Popova
Malcolm Gladwell Is #Wrong
Response to Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker magazine essay, "Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted."



Michael Erard
It’s the 16th Ed. of the Chicago Manual of Style and I Feel Fine
Michael Erard reviews the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.



Alexandra Lange
This is A Thrill...
Design Research reviewed in the New York Times.



Debbie Millman
Stephen Doyle
In this podcast interview with Debbie Millman, Stephen Doyle discusses working for Tibor Kalman, renting his soul to the devil and working with his hands.



Luc Sante
Circus: The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier
Rediscovered: Frederick W. Glasier. Glasier made extraordinary photographs of the American circus during its heyday.



Joshua Glenn
The "X" Factor
A slideshow features fifteen of Joshua Glenn's favorite Cold War-era "X" paperbacks.


Michael Bierut
Dot Zero
A look inside little-known design publication Dot Zero, the house organ of pioneering design consultancy Unimark, featuring a slide show and an interview with its designer, Massimo Vignelli.



Steven Heller
Vignelli’s Herald (or Heralding Vignelli)
Vignelli Celebration: Steven Heller remembers the Herald.



Alexandra Lange
NYT Opinionator: If These Walls Could Talk
ABC's Modern Family presents three different families, each defined by the design of their living rooms.



John Madere
John Madere: Massimo Vignelli
Vignelli Celebration: This film about Massimo Vignelli was directed and filmed by John Madere in 2010.



Alexandra Lange
If These Walls Could Talk
On the ABC sitcom Modern Family, three different families are visually defined by their living rooms.



Alexandra Lange
In Dwell: Hands Off the Icons
In the 
October 2010 issue of Dwell, which celebrates the magazine’s tenth anniversary by revisiting its own (generally happy) homeowners, I offer the following Argument.



Jessica Helfand
The Real Skinny on the Real Skinny
The is the first of two essays on the visual nature of body image.



William Drenttel
William Drenttel on Design and Social Innovation
A video of a talk on design and social innovation at the Feast Conference given by William Drenttel on October 1, 2009.



Michael Bierut
James Victore: Straight Up
"Few designers have done more to render typography foundries irrelevant than Victore. The human hand, his hand, is always in evidence." Michael Bierut on James Victore's work.



Yale School of Management
SELCO: Product Design Philosophy

This video of the SELCO innovation team talking about product development is a part of the SELCO case study, the first in a series of case studies on design and social enterprise funded by the Rockefeller Foundation through a grant to the Winterhouse Institute.





Yale School of Management
SELCO: Founder Harish Hande on SELCO's Future

This video of Harish Hande is a part of the SELCO case study, the first in a series of case studies on design and social enterprise funded by the Rockefeller Foundation through a grant to the Winterhouse Institute.





Alexandra Lange
This is a Terrible Poster
I saw the poster for the Facebook movie, The Social Network, at the Bergen Street station yesterdayand all I could think was, This is a terrible poster.


















Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut on 86 Notebooks
Michael Bierut video of a talk on the 86 notebooks he's kept over the course of his career and  design lessons derived from them.









Maria Popova
The Language of Design Imperialism
Essay on the flawed language used to describe humanitarian design efforts and what it indicates.



Michael Bierut
Jerry Della Femina, Mad Men, and the Cult of Advertising Personality
A review of Jerry Della Femina’s From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor, published in a new edition on the occasion of the debut of the fourth season of the AMC series Mad Men.



William H. Helfand
Ridendo
A slideshow comprised of covers from Ridendo a magazine distributed to French physicians.



Alexandra Lange
Better Living by Design
In 1950, industrial designers Mary and Russel Wright published the Guide to Easier Living, a revolutionary handbook for the modern home.



Mark Lamster
Master of Shadows: Paperback
Behold the very dashing cover for the forthcoming paperback edition of Master of Shadows, design by the great John Gall.






Alexandra Lange
Hung Ceilings
Mad Men returns, and now it's time to speculate on the evolution of Peggy’s hair and the meaning of Betty’s dress choices



The Editors
Humanitarian Design vs. Design Imperialism: Debate Summary
Bruce Nussbaum started a firestorm with the question "Is humanitarian design the new imperialism?" — and the conversation has spread through the blogosphere. Here, a digest of essays and related posts on this subject.



Jessica Helfand
Viva The Villain: A Review of Despicable Me
In an age in which last week’s Bernie Madoff is next week’s BP oil spill, villains are no longer the stuff of fiction. So when a really juicy fictional villain comes along — let alone two — it’s time to go to the movies.






Mark Lamster
Spain vs. Holland: The Eighty Years War in 90 Minutes
Spain and Holland will re-enact the Eighty Years War in tomorrow's World Cup final.



Jessica Helfand
Happy Birthday, Steven Heller
A tribute to Steven Heller on his Birthday!



Ernest Beck
Edward Koren in Retrospect
Essay on The New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren.



Jessica Helfand
The Next Great Graphic Designer
Tonight on Bravo's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" the winning Penguin book cover design will be unveiled, which begs a few questions. We hope our readers will weigh in with their opinions.



Alexandra Lange
Make Me A Mini Monograph
The thing I found most depressing was the sense I got that one could only write a book about designers that were already famous.



Mark Lamster
Walk the Walk, Take the Design
A few years ago I did an interview with ESPN magazine and was forced to subscribe to read the online version.



Mark Lamster
An Empire State of Mind
Everyone seems to be weighing in with pieces on the new edition of the AIA Guide to NYC, which is as it should be.












Mark Lamster
BEA 2010: A Recap
The future of the book was, as per usual these days, on the minds of publishers and retailers.



Alexandra Lange
The Plastics
This month’s
Vogue, which had several enraging features, is not yet fully online except for Blake Lively, bathing suits, clear plastic.



John Thackara
What Should Design Critics Write About?
Address to MFA students in the School of Visual Arts' Design Criticism program, April 30, 2010.





Helen Chang
Jugendstil: The Youth Style of Viennese Book Art
Turn-of-the-century Vienna was a magical, infectious brew. Viennese children’s book illustrations at the time were no exception.






Alexandra Lange
The Maddening, Rewarding World of Design People
Most design people I know — don’t feel guilt over knowing what is priceless and what is junk. The film Please Give also thinks they know what it is worth.



Eric Baker
Today, 05.15.10
Each morning, before starting work, I spend 30 minutes looking for images that are beautiful, funny, absurd and inspiring. Here's TODAY.



Alexandra Lange
It Was All Yellow
In 
Buying In, author Rob Walker avoids talking about the aesthetics of the Livestrong bracelet.



Mark Lamster
SOM: They’re #1
What is the top architectural firm in the United States? The friendly staff at Architect magazine established a set of criteria, surveyed the profession and crunched the numbers.






Alexandra Lange
Now What? Or, Beware Panels
Last night after I got back from The Changing State of the Design Press: Now What? I wrote a long crabby post about how boring it was, and also tweeted to that effect.



Steven Heller
Home Is the Sailor, Home from the Sea
In 1943, Margaret Wise Brown, the children’s book author signed a contract with Harper & Brothers to publish The Fathers Are Coming Home.






Alexandra Lange
All in the Execution
Ian Baldwin's review of The Grid Book calls out the coffee-table book format and it's middlebrow achievements.









Alexandra Lange
Anthony Lane Fugs Too
Anthony Lane pans The Clash of the Titans.






Mark Lamster
Artist! Lover! Swordsman!
“No man could outfight him — No woman could resist his charm.” So reads the copy on this pulp cover from 1953.



Alexandra Lange
Playground Apps
I wonder if the young, male inventors of foursquare haven’t missed a big market: moms.



Alexandra Lange
Not A Learning Experience
The Privileges finally gives a real satire of almost-present day New York City, in which money is discussed and no one has to learn their lesson.



Alexandra Lange
The (Architectural) Anthologist
After some digressions weird and
wonderful, the Nicholson Baker I loved from The Mezzanine and U and I and Room Temperature seems to be back, cranky and at sea and procrastinating.



Mark Lamster
Writer's Voice
My interview with Francesca Rheannon of NPR's Writer's Voice is now online.



Alexandra Lange
Coloring Book
I loved Jane Campion’s film, despite my feeling that it might not be true, and it must surely be anachronistic.



Steven Heller
Becoming a Designer in the Age of Aquarius
On rereading S. Neil Fujita’s 1968 job manual, Aim for a Job in Graphic Design/Art.


Alexandra Lange
Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough
Nicolai Ouroussoff might turn out to be the last architecture critic, which makes it even more imperative to say: He is not making a good case for keeping the breed.



Daniel Stephens, and Brooke Brewer
Aspen Design Summit: Film
This short film by GoodFocus Films captures participant perspectives at the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009.



Alexandra Lange
All Rubble Is Not Alike
I watched Manufactured Landscapes in the weeks before Christmas and it was just too depressing to post about in the run-up to gift day.



Alexandra Lange
The Mysteries of Retail
I don’t spend more than $100 easily and certainly not for something breakable, without function, or something for my kid that costs more than anything I own.



Alexandra Lange
Write What You Know
My handwriting should be a font. That’s what everyone has been saying since I was about 12, and while I agree it is true, it never seems like a compliment to me.



Alexandra Lange
Suburban Design
Lester Beall, was always my favorite of the cadre of mid-century corporate identity designers for the color, energy and sheer American-ness of his design.



Alexandra Lange
The Yuck Factor
Watch
District 9 as a palate cleanser after the visual feast of Avatar.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Logorama
A world colonized by brands is the theme of a new film, Logorama, by French designers and filmmakers H5.



Michael Bierut
Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.






Julie Lasky
I.D.'s Executioners
Julie Lasky, shares her experience at ID magazine.






Alexandra Lange
Annotated Avatar
Avatar is itself a hack, James Cameron is less auteur, more sci fi magpie.



Alexandra Lange
The Women
While Manohla Dargis rants about the lack of women in charge in Hollywood save for Nancy Meyers, Zaha Hadid similarly represents the dirth of women in architecture.



Alexandra Lange
Want to Make an Architect Cry?
Want to Make an Architect Cry? Give him (or her, but she’s less likely to mind) Robert A. M. Stern’s latest monograph, which, at 600+ pages, covers just his last five years of work.



Mark Lamster
Rubens for the Holidays
Snow is falling hard on the Eastern Seaboard. It's cold out there. A good weekend to stay in before a fire with your warm drink of choice and a good book.



Mark Lamster
Good Night Old Friend: ID Magazine Closes After 55 Years
After 55 years, ID Magazine, the grand dame of American design publishing, has shuttered. It's a terrible blow to the design world, and especially to those of us in the extended ID family — I was a contributing editor, and wrote for the the magazine for many years.



Mark Lamster
Talking Rubens with Leonard Lopate
I'll be appearing on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show this afternoon.



Alexandra Lange
Playing House
The three living rooms on Modern Family are used as a structuring device, luing us into the character of each respective family.



Alexandra Lange
In a F.O.G.
I am thinking about adding films to my undergraduate class at NYU, namely Sketches of Frank Gehry.



Steven Heller
Harsh Words from T.M. Cleland
Design criticism may be comparatively new, but critical designers are not.



Alexandra Lange
Where Have All the Type Geeks Gone?
Set in Helvetica, the title for Up In the Air looks plain wrong.



Mark Lamster
Master of Shadows: A Telegraph Book of the Year
The distinguished British historian Michael Burleigh has named Master of Shadows a Book of the Year in the Telegraph.



Alexandra Lange
DoubleX: Kid Made Modern Reviewed
My review for Todd Oldham's Kid Made Modern for DoubleX is much less happy happy, joy joy than most of the other coverage.



Martha Scotford
Ulysses: Fast Track to 1934 Best Seller
The first United States publishing of James Joyce's Ulysses.



Mark Lamster
"Compelling" & "Important": The L.A. Times Praises Master of Shadows
Good book reviews are rarities to be prized in these days of shuttered newspapers and diminished book coverage. By good I don't simply mean positive.



Mark Lamster
Dankuwel Antwerpen!
This is a good week to be thankful and I am especially grateful to everyone who made the launch of De meester van de schaduw in Antwerp such a success.



Alexandra Lange
Another New York
Every time I get an issue of
New York Magazine lately I ask myself: is Adam Moss turning it into a men’s magazine?



Alexandra Lange
D/R on WGBH
My last post about D/R before the book comes out next September.


The Editors
Holiday Books 2009
Recommended books by Design Observer writers for the 2009 holiday season.



Alexandra Lange
The Modernist State
Watch “Living Modern in Connecticut” tomorrow night at 9 on CPTV for a short history of modernism in Connecticut.



Mark Lamster
The Big Stage
'll be giving a talk on Rubens and his diplomatic career at the Ringling Museum's extraordinary Asolo Theater.



Mark Lamster
Adoration: Library Journal on Master of Shadows: "An Exceptional Book"
A nice synopsis and very generous assessment of Master of Shadows appears in the forthcoming issue of Library Journal.



Hal Clifford, and Jason Houston
Stone River: The Passion of Jon Piasecki
Landscape architect Jon Piasecki, talks about nature, the woods, and a recent multi-year stone works project in New York State — Stone River



Alexandra Lange
Word on the Street
We have begun a bit of a study of Sesame Street in our house.



Alexandra Lange
Kicking Down the Door
While I love Mad Men, season 3 was not my favorite.



Alexandra Cardia
From Cabinet: Jacket Required
In April 2009, one of the earliest known dust jackets was found at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.



Mark Lamster
From Bauhaus to My House
Nearly thirty years ago, Tom Wolfe made quite a splash with his reactionary little attack on modern architecture.



Felice C. Frankel, and George M. Whitesides
No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale
A slideshow of images from the book, No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale.



Alexandra Lange
Bauhaus + Betsy
New York Magazine covers two of my favorite topics: the Bauhaus and Betsy-Tacy books.



Mark Lamster
The Shadow Master — Live on Halloween Eve
I'll be discussing the original Shadow Master, Peter Paul Rubens, on the John Batchelor Show.


John Gall
The Nabokov Collection
The assignment: redesign Vladimir Nabokov's book covers, all twenty-one of them. The solution: twenty-one specimen boxes, the kind used by butterfly collectors like Nabokov, each created by a different designer.



Alexandra Lange
Tableaux Vivants
If someone asked me to write a profile of Wes Anderson, I would start with corduroy.



Alexandra Lange
D/R Love
There is much online excitement about the D/R exhibition, opening tomorrow.



Alexandra Lange
More Hell (Beige Edition)
I thought the Kelly Wearstler fan-fest was over last month, when both Vogue and the New Yorker treated her to long profiles.



Mark Lamster
Half King Reading
Many thanks to all who came out to my son-et-lumiere extravaganza last night at the Half King in New York.



Ryan Fitzgibbon
Start Asking: a Project by Ryan Fitzgibbon
Start Asking was Ryan Fitzgibbon's solution to the final challenge of Command X: Season 2, the graphic design reality show at the AIGA Make/Think Conference in Memphis.



Mark Lamster
Good Morning Cleveland!
I'll be on drive-time radio tomorrow morning in Cleveland.



Alexandra Lange
Houses of the Future
Excellent article on the various single-family housing initiatives going on now in New Orleans.



Mark Lamster
Master of Shadows: Reception
It was a great honor last night to celebrate publication of Master of Shadows with a small gathering at the residence of the Belgian Consul General in New York, Ambassador Herman Portocarero.



Alexandra Lange
Buy It Now
I watched two episodes of the Sundance Channel’s new advertisement for Anthropologie, Man Shops Globe, and failed to be caught up in the drama.



Mark Lamster
Master of Shadows — In Stores Now — New York Event
After so many years of working and waiting, the day has finally arrived: "Master of Shadows" has been released into the world, and is available at a bookstore near you.



Mark Lamster
Peter Paul Rubens: Graphic Designer
In his day, Rubens was also revered as a diplomat, an architect, a classical scholar, and even a graphic designer.



Alexandra Lange
Love Among the Figurines
I finally got my hands on Important Artifacts by Leanne Shapton.



Steven Heller
Ramparts: Agent of Change
Ramparts magazine has been dead for almost two decades, but to look back at it, it stands out as one to remember.



Andy Chen
The Value of Empathy
Andy Chen responds to the debate between David Stairs and Valerie Casey on the recent surge of social design activity.



Alexandra Lange
Unhappy Homes
In Revolutionary Road and Away We Go, the characters lack believable emotion because they fail to convince us that they are in a house, rather than a set.



Mark Lamster
The Art of Diplomacy
It's a rather satisfying bit of parallelism that the excerpt of my book on the political career of Peter Paul Rubens appears in the Wall Street Journal on the same day that Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is the paper's lead story.



Alexandra Lange
The Ladies' Paradise
In “Souvenir,” Mad Men welcomes back Joan, looking lovely.



Mark Lamster
Tiepolo Pink
I'm happy and honored to report that Master of Shadows has been named an Indie Next Notable Book for November by IndieBound.



Alexandra Lange
Cutting Remarks
I'm not so sure that Lonny, the online-only magazine from the former editors of Domino, is such a good thing.



Valerie Casey, and David Stairs
The Kindness of Strangers
Debate between graphic designer David Stairs and Designers Accord founder Valerie Casey about designers' roles and limits as social activists.



Michael Bierut
The Figure / Ground Relationship
Designing is the most important thing, but it’s not the only thing. All of the other things a designer designer does all day are important too, and you have to do them with intelligence, enthusiasm, dedication, and love. Together, those things create the background that makes the work meaningful, and, when you do them right, that makes the work good.



Mark Lamster
We Regret to Inform You That Love Will Not Save the Day
The big story on East 7th Street these days is the opening of Thom Mayne's new student center for Cooper Union, on Third Avenue.



Alexandra Lange
My Idea of Hell
There is no upside in criticizing Kelly Wearstler, since her press machine just rolls on, as she changes outfits hourly and houses annually.



Mark Lamster
People of the Book
I'll be participating in my first event to celebrate the publication of Master of Shadows on October 6th, here in New York City.



Jessica Helfand
A Stitch in Time: A Review of 9
The comically repetitive date of 090909 iss thought to be a lucky day, a day of optimism and interconnectedness. It was also the release date for the new animated film, 9.



Mark Lamster
Underground Architects
The one question people often ask that I don't enjoy answering is, "Who's your favorite architect?"



Alexandra Lange
White Columns
In Valentino: The Last Emperor, one dress is followed in all of its incarnations, while architecture is put in its place.



Alexandra Lange
On the Grid
Mad Men makes use of grids, mixing them with bronze fronds and Harry Bertoia sculpture.



Alexandra Lange
Higher and Higher
In his back-page New York Times Book Review essay on The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard, Jonathan Lethem makes many good points about Ballard’s visionary writing, “desolate landscapes” and his linkages with other arts.



Jane Margolies
Pig 05049
Report on Pig 05049, a book cataloging all of the products made from a single pig, which won the 2009 INDEX award in the Playful Learning category



Mark Dery
Paradise Fouled
Review of Crude, Joe Berlinger's documentary film about a lawsuit filed against Chevron by denizens of the Ecuadorean Amazon.



John Emerson
Pressed into Service
Interview with Lincoln Cushing, co-author of Agitate! Educate! Organize!: American Labor Posters.



Alexandra Lange
The Tigertones
I was thrilled by the metion of the Tigertones in this week's episode of Mad Men.



Alexandra Lange
Suspended Animation
Thirtysomething isn't exactly how I rembered it.



Alexandra Lange
Cooking for Crowds
Nora Ephron, or at least production designer Mark Ricker, must have spent a fortune on cute lamps for the set of Julie & Julia.



Alexandra Lange
Shiny and New
On this week's Mad Men, three words I never thought I would hear on a dramatic television show: Ada Louise Huxtable.



Alexandra Lange
Blackboard Jungle
Tell No One turns out to be a snoozy French thriller while Entre les Murs (The Class) makes up for it.



Mark Lamster
Rough-Cut Redux: Amazon Makes A Change We Can Believe In
Last week, I noted the strange appearance of the all-capped phrase "ROUGH-CUT EDGE" displayed adjacent to the title of my book on Amazon.com.



Mark Lamster
On "Master of Shadows"
Peter Paul Rubens gives us a lot to think about in his canvasses of rushing color, action, and puckered flesh, so it’s not surprising that his work as a diplomat and spy has been neglected.



Alexandra Lange
If You Can't Say Something Nice...
A contestant's dress on Project Runway looks no worse than Escada.



Mark Lamster
Master of Shadows: The Jacket
The design for the Master of Shadows cover is quite handsome.



Alexandra Lange
Rearranging the Deck Chairs
I've been thinking about the third season of Mad Men in terms of furniture.



Alexandra Lange
Shelf Life
Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery is a new book about rereading classic teen novels with an adult eye.



Alexandra Lange
Between Buildings
Man on Wire is only so-so, but Phillipe Petit's personality and the imagery of his three major walks are not to be missed.



Michael Erard
A Short Manifesto on the Future of Attention
Maybe we should be considering a dilemma of a human nature: the future of attention.



Alexandra Lange
Outsider Art
After watching Ride With the Devil, I discovered the common thread in Ang Lee's films.



Steven Heller
Covering the Good Books
When reading was more fundamental than tweeting, Time Life Books played a significant role in getting the general public to acquire books on almost every subject.



Mark Lamster
Rough Cut
It seems that some bibliophiles prefer a deckle edge to their books — when the pages opposite the spine are rough hewn.



Alexandra Lange
D.I.Y.
There seems to be some questionable parenting in Caroline.



Kurt Andersen, Julie Lasky, and Douglas Rushkoff
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff: Part II
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff continue their discussion of the future in light of the current economic calamity.



Alexandra Lange
England's Next Top Model
In The Duchess, the gratuitous sex scenes were the least of the film's problems.



Julie Lasky, Douglas Rushkoff, and Kurt Andersen
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff: Part I
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff discuss the future in light of the current economic calamity.



Sebastian Carter
Jan Tschichold — Master Typographer
Jan Tschichold was one of the most distinguished typographers of the last century, and has had many admirers, among whom he himself was not the least. Jan Tschichold — Master Typographer is, as its title suggests, intended as a tribute to it's subject, but it is one which would have displeased him greatly.



Ars Libri Ltd
Hungarian Rhapsody
This collection is the record of the immensely productive life of György Kepes.



Ars Libri Ltd
Writing & Calligraphy
This remarkable collection of Writing & Calligraphy from the noted connoisseur and bibliophile Peter Arms Wick.



Steven Heller
A Good Trademark: A Historical Perspective
Textile Brand Names Dictionary, included were more than 4,000 names of fibers, yarns, fabrics, and garments registered with the United States Patent Office between 1934 and 1947.



Richard Devereaux
Once Out of Chaos: Pauline Galiana
Natural sounds and natural lighting inform this elegiac mediation on making — on art formulated and gridded from the detritus of painting. This meticulously-paced video by Richard Devereaux takes the time to capture the beauty of hundreds of individually-sewn stitches, softly wavering in the breezes of a warm afternoon.



Andrew Sloat
Polling Place Photo Project
A retrospective of the Polling Place Photo Project, which asked American citizens to document the act of voting in all its glorious nationwide dissimilarity. Made in partnership with Winterhouse, co-sponsor of the Polling Place Photo Project. 2008



Andrew Sloat
Article 2 (for BHO)
Article 2 (for BHO) is a video short in honor of the historic swearing-in of our forty-fourth President, with the words Justice Roberts got mixed up on the big day. 2009



Andrew Sloat
More Perfect Union
More Perfect Union spells out the preamble to the United States Constitution with forty friends in a high school gym in New York City. 2007.



Andrew Sloat
22nd Amendment
22nd Amendment, was made in the twilight of Bush's second term, a reminder that sometimes the Constitution is our best friend. 2007



Mark Lamster
Advance Praise for Master of Shadows
The first notices for Master of Shadows are beginning to flow in, and I'm happy to report that the initial response has been very positive indeed.



Alexandra Lange
Cold Comforts
I can't but write about the objects in Summer Hours, Revolutionary Road, and Frozen River.



Mark Lamster
Design Your Life
Written in collaboration with her twin sister, Ellen Lupton's Design Your Life is a joyful, thoughtful, rumination on the objects that occupy us, 



Alexandra Lange
Little Dictators
Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou makes a strong commentary on parenting.



Alexandra Lange
Nostalgia Trip
I can't resist reading Colm Tóbín's new novel called Brooklyn.



Steven Heller
When Satire Was More Than Funny
In 1901, Samuel Schwarz founded a satiric visual weekly, titled L’Assiette au Beurre, expressly poised to attack the functionaries who made their fortunes off the sweat of the citizenry.



Alexandra Lange
Battle Lines
In Waltz With Bashir, director and protagonist Ari Folman makes amazing use of animation to tell a most unfunny tale of recovered memory and national guilt.



Alexandra Lange
In Spite of Myself
I loved the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace for their message of feminism, love, and class.



Alexandra Lange
Child's Play
Unlike the stories documented in the film Nursery University, my experience of enrolling my child in preschool in New York City was completely different.



Mark Lamster
Really Great Gatsby
As Jeffrey Trachtenberg reports on the WSJ books blog, last week a 1925 edition of the Great Gatsby, with its vintage surrealist jacket, sold at auction for $180,000.



Alexandra Lange
Pre-Blog Work
Here are links to writing published before I began this blog in June 2009.



Alexandra Lange
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
After viewing He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic, I need to effect my own romantic comedy ban.



Alexandra Lange
Spoilsport
Though the BBC teen series Skins isn't boring, I find it icky. Too much sweat, too much drugs, too much barf, too much nudity.



Ars Libri Ltd
Paul Schuitema Collection
This remarkable collection of graphic design is from the Dutch designer Paul Schuitema.



Mark Lamster
Lamsterdam
Master of Shadows will be published in Europe this November, and I'm hoping my distinguished Dutch publisher will undertake a guerilla art project to promote it in Holland.



Alexandra Lange
Perfect Pairs
Our admiration for Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy led us to Netflix her first film, Old Joy.



Michael Bierut
Spoiler Alert! Or, Happy Father's Day
Dad couldn't help it. He was a natural born spoiler.



Alexandra Lange
People in New Houses...
Why is every episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey set at an overdecorated Italian restaurant with a large parking lot?



Alexandra Lange
Aloysius is Missed
I took my chances to see if the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited was as good as the multi-part original.



Alexandra Lange
Textile Psychology
In Brick Lane it is the fabric that does most of the talking, for while the novel is very interior, the film is not.



Mark Lamster
Bottom of the Ninth
My review of Michael Shapiro's new book on the aborted life of the Continental League, a would be addition to the majors, appears in today's Los Angeles Times.



Alexandra Lange
Lost Loves
It's slowly dawned on me that the lead character of many shows — Sex in the City, Weeds, The West Wing — is actually grating.



Alexandra Lange
Dickens is Funny
In the best BBC adaptation of the last five years, Bleak House, Gillian Anderson gives a performance that should wipe Agent Scully permanently from the public mind.



Alexandra Lange
Auto Pilot
While watching Chop Shop, I was bored not by the plotlessness, or even the purposely inartistic direction, but by the lack of acting.



Eric Baker
Free Books
Everyone loves a good book, of course, but lets not forget that the books were FREE! 600 books given away in one day on the streets of New York City.



Alexandra Lange
Romance Is Dead
There are some movies so bad I can’t bear to put them in my Netflix queue, but He's Just Not That Into You somehow made it in.



Alexandra Lange
Dog Days
Wendy and Lucy may be the feel-bad movie of the year, but it is beautiful, terrifying and real.



Alexandra Lange
Worst Case Scenario
Two of Danny Boyle's filme, Slumdog Millinaire and Millions suffer from a wavering of purpose from gritty realism to wish fulfilment.



Alexandra Lange
Evil Ms
A fair number of journalists have mentioned the odd parallelism of the fall of the House of Merdle in Little Dorrit, and the real-life fall of the House of Bernard Madoff.



Alan Rapp
Personal Space
Robert Sommer’s Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design was published in forty years ago, and its compact title concept — an invisible but perceptible security zone surrounding an individual — caught on. But where is Sommer now? A recent study in Perception finds that listening to music on headphones alters our sense of sociospatial relations. Until these more contemporary strands of inquiry result in a truly new analysis of how we perceive our interpersonal zones today, Personal Space is now available in a new edition, with some additional commentary by Dr. Sommer, from Bosko Books in the UK



William Drenttel
Once Out of Chaos




Alexandra Lange
Doom
After watching all of the excellent contemporary TV shows, we are back to BBC with The Way We Live Now and The Mayor of Casterbridge.



The Editors
Books Received: July 2009
The Design Observer Fall book list is here.



Mark Lamster
BEA Report: 10 Fall Books (+1) for Your Library
It has been a grim year for publishing, which accounts for the unusually restrained mood this past weekend at Book Expo America, the industry's annual trade show.



Ellen Lupton
A Conversation With David Barringer
David Barringer’s book, There’s Nothing Funny About Design is actually very funny. The conversation that follows was conducted via e-mail over a three-day period.



Debbie Millman
Dave Eggers
McSweeney’s Founder Dave Eggars is also the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity! and What Is The What.



Mark Lamster
How We Decide
In the latest episode of CBC's WireTap, "The Deciders," host Jonathan Goldstein walks me through one of those difficult decisions we all are faced with at some point: Should I go to the doctor?



Debbie Millman
Dee Dee Gordon
Dee Dee Gordon is a renowned youth culture expert whose research has been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times Magazine.



Steven Heller
How Much Is That Artifact in the Window?
Many of us have bought design objects for pleasure and / or scholarship. We’ve paid varying amounts — high and low. But what or who determines the value of a design artifact?



Debbie Millman
Allan Chochinov
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie speaks with Allan Chochinov, editor-in-chief of Core77.com, the widely read design website.



Mark Lamster
Friendship's Offering
Behold the first known book jacket, for an 1829 literary anthology. It was discovered at Oxford's Bodleian Library, minus the book it once encased.



Steven Heller
Father of Shrek, Grandfather of Tweet
William Steig was the father of vanity license plate abbreviations and the grandfather of the Instant Messenger, SMS, iChat, and Twitter shorthand.



Mark Lamster
Curse of the Bambino Strikes Again!
Good Lord! Is the new house jinxed?



The Editors
13th Annual Webby Awards
We are pleased to announce that Design Observer has been nominated for Webby Awards for Best Culture Blog and Best Writing.



The Editors
Books Received: Summer 2009
The Design Observer Summer book list is here.



Debbie Millman
Dan Pink
Dan Pink is an entrepreneur, speaker and the author of three groundbreaking books on the changing dimensions of the workplace. 



Debbie Millman
Daniel Formosa
Daniel Formosa, a founder of Smart Design, is a member of the design team that developed IBM’s first personal computer, the OXO Good Grips kitchen tools and XM Satellite Radio. 



Adam Harrison Levy
William Klein: Contacts
William Klein made a rare appearance in New York recently to promote his latest book, Contacts. American by birth, he has lived most of his life in Paris. He is now 81.



Mark Lamster
Fishin' for Glory
The King of Kvetch takes to the airwaves tomorrow; I'll be appearing on the latest episode of Jonathan Goldstein's brilliant radio program Wiretap, on the CBC.



Debbie Millman
Gong Szeto
Former principal of the interaction design firm io360, Gong Szeto is Director of design and product design at Peak6 Investments.



Sarah Couto
The Year Playboy Died
It is often forgotten that the rabbit figure depicted on the early covers of Playboy was very much male, as seen in the January 1954 edition of the magazine. Typically he was an unbridled man, out and about, in good company. The rabbit is first shown in the guise of a woman, upon the opening of the Playboy Club in 1960.



Franz Wright
"Visiting the Library in a Strange City"
A poem by Franz Wright.



Mark Lamster
Access Denied
In putting together the images for Master of Shadows, my publisher placed a permissions request to use a painting from the collection of the Norton Simon Foundation, in Los Angeles, only to be denied.



Mark Lamster
Splendor on the Grass
What makes a great tennis match great? I started asking myself this question while I was putting together a review of A Terrible Splendor, a new book hooked on a 1937 Davis Cup.



Mark Lamster
Seattle PI: RIP
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was founded 146 years ago, when that city was an industrial backwater on Elliot Bay, a timber town with more logs than people.



Mark Lamster
Save the Library Redux
Could it be that the sour economy is the best friend of the good old library?



Mark Lamster
After Peter Paul Rubens (Long After)
Perusing the Christie's website a few days ago, I noticed a print attributed to William Pether "after Peter Paul Rubens."



Debbie Millman
Patrick Coyne
An interview with Patrick Coyne, editor of Communication Arts, with special guests Milton Glaser and Cheryl Heller.



Mark Lamster
Save the Library
These are tough times for those of us who care about books. The publishing industry is in a tailspin; electronic readers and the Internet are challenging the primacy of the printed page.



Mark Lamster
Planet M
My friend Gideon Lewis-Kraus's beautifully written Harper's piece on the last Frankfurt Book Fair is the talk of the publishing world.



Debbie Millman
Natalia Ilyin
Natalia Ilyin is a design critic and educator and ithe author of two books — Blonde Like Me, and Chasing the Perfect: Thoughts on Modernist Design in Our Time.



Debbie Millman
Joe Duffy + Nate Voss
The Reflex Blue's Nate Voss interviews Joe Duffy about his work for some of the most highly admired companies in the world, including Coca-Cola, Toyota and Sony. 



Mark Lamster
Roid Rage
The baseball world is up-in-arms over the revelations that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid use a few years ago. My suggestion: move along, folks.



Debbie Millman
Steve Heller + Lita Talerico
Debbie Millman interviews Lita Talarico and Steven Heller, co-founders of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts.



The Editors
Julie Lasky & Ernest Beck Join Design Observer
Design Observer announces that Julie Lasky and Ernest Beck will be joining the Design Observer team as our website makes a major editorial expansion to incorporate new content under the banner of Change Observer.



Steven Heller
The Good Books
Why can’t American publishers produce a series of good — no great — books on graphic culture like Die Bibliophilen Taschenbücher? Published in 1979 by Harenberg Kommunikation, Dortmund, Germany, each small usually full color volume was based on a visual theme, including American absurdist postcards, German political posters, French cigarette advertisements, vending machine cards, Soviet Posters, and Liebig’s Fleisch Extract advertising cards



Steven Heller
That Pesky Television Test Pattern
What came first, television or the television test pattern? The origin of the pattern is a story of form following function. Aesthetics were irrelevant to the primary purpose, and the technical draftsmen who anonymously designed it could have never predicted that decades later it would become a nostalgic icon.



William Drenttel
Polling Place Photo Project
To commemorate the inauguration of President Barack Obama, please enjoy this short film by Andrew Sloat inspired by Polling Place Photo Project.



Kerry Saretsky
Curious Case of the Better Adaptation
Now that I am comfortably “well-read” in my twenties with a Master’s in modern English Literature tucked into my back pocket, I can’t help but notice that every movie I have seen lately — and every movie that I want to see — has independently stood as a work of print before being reincarnated into movie form.



Debbie Millman
Neville Brody
An interview with former Face Magazine art director Neville Brody who has been at the forefront of design for more than two decades.



Mark Lamster
Master of Shadows: The Cover
Behold the cover for Master of Shadows, which releases this coming October.



Mark Lamster
If the Wire Cast Was a Football Team
The Baltimore Ravens look pretty formidable going into the AFC Championship game, but I wonder if this squad from Charm City could give them a run for their money.



Debbie Millman
Jessica Helfand
Jessica Helfand discusses growing up in a family of collectors, her love of visual biography and why history should be more important to designers than it seems to be.



Mark Lamster
How the West Was Lost
My reviews of two new photography books.



The Editors
Books Received: Winter 2009
The Design Observer Winter 2008 book list is here.



Steven Heller
My Dada
Way back in 1965, as a fifteen years old, I was an early EVOtee. I had stumbled upon one of the first issues at a newsstand. The cover, which I remember vividly, had a photo collage of a serpent emerging from battle fatigues worn by America's commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland. Haunting is not a strong enough word to describe the impact that this had on a teen just a year or two out of Valley Forge Military Academy, where, surprisingly, I had learned about the military impossibility of winning the war.



Chris Pullman
What I've Learned
After 35 years working for the same company, WGBH in Boston, legendary design director Chris Pullman reveals the ten things he learned.



Steven Heller
History of Aggressive Design Magazines
Graphic design evolved during the late nineteenth century from a sideline of the printing industry into an autonomous field with its own lore, icons and personalities. The missing link in this evolutionary process is trade magazines. These magazines did not just reflexively report the current trends instead some aggressively codified key methods and mannerisms that in turn defined a profession.



Michael Bierut
The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman
For over 40 years, Lou Dorfsman designed everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. Getting great work done in giant institution is supposed to be hard. How did he make it look easy?



Dmitri Siegel
Design by Numbers
Dmitri Siegel discusses Stephen Baker's new book The Numerati and how data-mining and personalized content may impact design.



The Editors
Books Received: Holiday List 2008
The Design Observer holiday book list is here.



Michael Bierut
Mad Men: Pitch Perfect
AMC’s ad agency drama Mad Men, from the producer of the Sopranos, is beginning its second season. Like The Sopranos, the show finds human drama in an unexpected setting. And where The Sopranos had whackings, Mad Men has client presentations.



Steven Heller
Go West, Young Art Director
When veteran magazine art directors get together to reminisce about the glory years, one title always gets mentioned: West. This storied weekly supplement of the Los Angeles Times, art directed by Mike Salisbury, was a masterwork of design erudition.



Gong Szeto
Interview with Brian Oakes
It’s not often that graphs and numbers take center stage in a popular film, but in the brilliant hands of graphic designer Brian Oakes, information design is not a backdrop but a main character in the recently released documentary I.O.U.S.A. Interview by Gong Szeto.



The Editors
Books Received: Fall 2008




Steven Heller
Breakdowns: A Review
Steven Heller reviews Art Spiegelman’s Breakdowns, his first anthology of autobiographical and experimental comics were originally published in 1978. Thirty years later, a new edition, Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist As A Young %@(#!, is finally out.



Michael Bierut
David Foster Wallace, Branding Theorist, 1962-2008




Rob Walker
Shared Memories
Many of the images reproduced in Scrapbooks: An American History, by Jessica Helfand, date back 50, 80, even 100 years. Reproduced in color and spread across wide pages, the anonymous scrapbook creators could hardly have imagined such a fate for their work.



Jessica Helfand
Biblionomatopoeia
What do you call book jacket design that manipulates the book jacket itself in an effort to illustrate the content of the book? Answer: biblionomatopoeia.



Michael Bierut
There is No Why
The year's best design movie is not about a typeface. It's Man on Wire, the new documentary about Philippe Petit's 1974 high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.



Paula Scher
It’s How You Said It
Paula Scher: “The problem with the New Yorker’s controversial Obama cover is not that it’s dangerous and tasteless. The problem is that it isn’t dangerous or tasteless enough.”



William Drenttel
I Was A Mad Man
Mad Men takes place in 1960. Just seventeen years later, I went to work at an ad agency and became a Mad Man. This is my story...



Steven Heller
Vanity Fair Type: 1930 Style




The Editors
Books Received: Summer 2008
New books have been piling up here at Design Observer. We thought we'd share some of the many recently published titles we have received over the past couple of months...



Becky Neiman
Taking Things Seriously XIII




Paul Maliszewski
Taking Things Seriously XI




Rick Poynor, and Adrian Shaughnessy
We Found It at the Movies: Part I
Rick Poynor: Looking back, it’s surprising how long we’d known each other before it emerged that we shared an obsession for film. 
Adrian Shaughnessy: Your obsession with film came as a surprise. Before lending you the Herzog box set I had you tagged as a visual arts man, not a cineaste.




The Editors
Books Received: Spring 2009
Design Observer Spring 2009 list of 50+ books received.



Rick Poynor, and Adrian Shaughnessy
We Found It at the Movies: Part II
The second installment of Rick Poynor and Adrian Shaughnessy’s conversation about film. Can genre movies express a personal vision? Are films blurring into other media? And what’s the state of film culture today?



Denise Gonzales Crisp, and Rick Poynor
A Critical View of Graphic Design History
Now comes yet another historical survey, Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide by Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish. Denise Gonzales Crisp and Rick Poynor have been marking pages, making notes and exchanging views...



Jessica Helfand
Iron Man: The Screen Behind the Screen
Iron Man is the fulfillment of all the computer-integrated movies were ever meant to be, and by computer-integrated, I mean just that: beyond the technical wizardry of special effects, this is a film in which the computer is incorporated, like a cast member, into the development of the plot itself.



Rosamond W. Purcell
Taking Things Seriously XII




Rob Walker
This Joke’s for You
In the movie Idiocracy, an average and unambitious guy played by Luke Wilson hibernates as part of a military experiment and wakes up 500 years later. The America he wakes up to has devolved radically.



Jessica Helfand
National Scrapbooking Day
"Scrapbooks (like these) remind us that creating an album from saved matter does not necessarily provide an accurate self-portrait..." An essay by Jessica Helfand from her new book on the occasion of National Scrapbooking Day.



Steven Heller
The Sky Is Falling
Where once the sky is falling scenarios would not, as Dr. Flicker said, “happen for billions of years yet,” the doomsday clock is steadily ticking away. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back to the days when fiction was not fact.



Adam Harrison Levy
The Passion of George Lois
How adman George Lois chronicled the sixties with his cover designs for Esquire magazine, with a peek behind the scenes at the legendary famous Muhammad-Ali-as-St. Sebastian photoshoot.



Debbie Millman
Robynne Raye + Michael Straussberger
Robynne Raye and Michael Straussberger are graphic designers and co-founders of the acclaimed Seattle-based firm Modern Dog.



The Editors
The Next Page: Thirty Tables of Contents
Last year, on the occasion of "Next," the AIGA's Biennial National Design Conference in Denver, Design Observer published a little book, The Next Page: Thirty Tables of Contents. We are sharing it here as a slide show...



Luc Sante
Taking Things Seriously X




Steven Heller
Underground Mainstream
Today, designers for mainstream advertising companies, weaned on alternative approaches, have folded the underground into the mainstream and called it cool.



Debbie Millman
Abbott Miller
An interview with Abbott Miller, Pentagram partner and an award-winning graphic designer and writer. Miller is also the art director of 2wice magazine.



Joshua Glenn
Taking Things Seriously IX




Debbie Millman
Laurie Rosenwald
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks with graphic designer, artist and actress Laurie Rosenwald.



Debbie Millman
Gordon Hull
An all-music show with DJ and designer Gordon Hull, co-founder of the firm Surface to Air.



Steven Heller
Swastika Humor?
Trivializing the swastika is not a crime, but it can be dangerous, particularly since it continues to be used as a weapon of hate. Perhaps this book would have best been titled, “We Have Ways of Making You Wince.”



John Keen
Taking Things Seriously VIII




Debbie Millman
Stefan Bucher
An interview with graphic designer, illustrator and Daily Monster creator Stefan Bucher.



Debbie Millman
Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula Vrontikis is a graphic designer and educator at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.



Debbie Millman
Jonah Lehrer
Jonah Lehrer, editor-at-large for Seed Magazine, is also a contributor to NPR’s RadioLab. He is the author of Proust was a Neuroscientist.



Jessica Helfand
Animal Magnetism
Magazines are the sole industry in which you cannot help but judge a book by its cover.



Chika Azuma
Chika Azuma: Taking Things Seriously VII




Debbie Millman
Vaughan Oliver
Legendary graphic designer Vaughan Oliver is also an artist and the author of several books, including Exhibition/Exposition and This Rimy River.



Debbie Millman
Kurt Andersen
Kurt Andersen is an award-winning journalist, author and host of the Peabody-winning public radio program, Studio 360.



Debbie Millman
Eric Kandel
Nobel prize winner Eric Kandel is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Columbia University.
 




Beth Daniels
Beth Daniels: Taking Things Seriously VI




Debbie Millman
Chip Kidd
Book designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd is also the author of several books including The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners: A Novel.
 




Andrew Blauvelt
The Work of Task
The presence of Task asks, How do you make a magazine for the post-critical, post-movement moment of contemporary graphic design?



William Drenttel
Polling Place Photo Project 2008
We are pleased to announce that the Polling Place Photo Project is continuing into the 2008 presidential primaries and election, supported by a new partnership of The New York Times, AIGA and Design Observer.



Michael Bierut
Will the Real Ernst Bettler Please Stand Up?
In the late 50s, Swiss designer Ernst Bettler created a series of seemingly harmless posters that brought down a drug company with a Nazi past. It's a great story, but it never happened. Why do we need to believe in Ernst Bettler?



Thomas Frank
Taking Things Seriously V




Carol Hayes
Taking Things Seriously IV




Greg Klee
Taking Things Seriously III




Adrian Shaughnessy
Graphic Editorship
Fuel's realization that they possessed the transferable skills and instincts to publish thought-provoking books with editorial depth, has allowed them to create a publishing venture that offers a fresh take on visual culture.



Dmitri Siegel
Taking Things Seriously II




William Drenttel
Taking Things Seriously I




Jessica Helfand
Things, Part I
In an age characterized by elevated environmental awareness — reducing our carbon footprint, enhancing our sustainable output — we remain obsessed with our attachment to the material world.



Tom Vanderbilt
Discipline and Design
On a sweeping and fully realized scale, Richard Ross's photographs probes the disciplinary dynamics in the cruel hidden places you would expect them, and in the banal everyday places you might not have even noticed them.



Nichelle Narcisi
Except You
Nichelle Narcisi, winner of last month's Command X competition at the AIGA Next Conference in Denver, presents "Except You," her proposed campaign to raise the voter participation rate for 18 to 24 year olds.



Michael Bierut
Rest in Peace, Herbert Muschamp
Officially published for the first time as a posthumous tribute: a loving parody of the writing of the late, great architectural critic Herbert Muschamp.



William Drenttel
A Plea to The New York Times: Index Your Art
Why does the art that adds so much to the texts published in The New York Times disappear? Why cannot The New York Times simply index the art that it publishes, at least leaving the bibliographic tracings of the work in their newspaper?



Jessica Helfand
Stan Brakhage: Caught on Tape
For Stan Brakhage, that concentration resulted in extraordinary explorations of many things, including the life cycle of a moth, caught on adhesive strips of tape, and subsequently captured on film where it regained — however briefly — the magnificent illusion of mobility. For designers, faced by budgets and clients and deadlines, the luxury of so much isolation seems a distant, if not an altogether perverse paradigm. But are these intentions really so mutually exclusive?



Steven Heller
Decorative Books: The End of Print
Back in 1956, The Times promotion department provided a viable answer in the form of its 65 Ways to Decorate with Books in Your Home, a book/zine with a reasonable $1 cover price. Steven Heller looks here for answers to repurpose of these venerable materials into useful life-enhancing goods.



Alice Twemlow
Design Criticism's Winding Road
To what extent does design criticism inspire a reaction; to whom is criticism addressed and what happens as a result of it being read? This article discusses the way in which an excerpt from a review of a 1955 Buick unexpectedly inspired a painting by one of the world's best-known Pop artists, Richard Hamilton.



Steven Heller
Confessions of a Book Catalog Reader
I read publishers' seasonal book catalogs the way some people go to the movies, in part to watch the trailers for coming attractions.



Liz Brown
Phil Spector vs. The Wall of Sound
Until 1966, producer Phil Spector was an unstoppable machine, churning out "symphonies for little kids." Then came "River Deep, Mountain High," where the combination of Tina Turner’s raw, unbridled passion and Spector’s orchestral swoon was a total disaster. Spector’s career was over, but the song goes on and on.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Barnbrook Bible: A Graphic Autobiography
Jonathan Barnbrook's new book, Barnbrook Bible, ranks amongst the most ambitious personal projects undertaken by any graphic designer...



Jessica Helfand
Harry Potter and The Enchanted Letterforms
The most recent theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix includes a paradigm shift that warrants particular recognition, for the simple reason that this may be the first film in which mere letterforms, once the purview of the production designer, break free and actually join the cast.



Richard Turley
Off the Grid
When you abandon most of the rules, how do you define a mistake? How to art direct a newspaper from the middle of the muddy Glastonbury music festival.



William Drenttel
One Man's Literary Compass
It was in 1966 when I returned to San Francisco to re-establish The Greenwood Press. The first thing I did was to build these bookshelves with my young architect friends. These photographs by Dennis Letbetter, forty years later, have captured so beautifully the soul and spirit of Greenwood's library.



Debbie Millman
Shepard Fairey
Designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey is the author of Supply and Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey and Shepard Fairey: Post No Bills.



Debbie Millman
Bad Boys of Design IV
Designers Marc Alt, Mike Essl, Alberto Rigau and others.



Tom Vanderbilt
On the Squareness of Milk Containers
Do you know, or have you ever wanted to know, why milk containers are square and soft drink containers are round? This and other questions of design are answered in Robert Frank's new book The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas.



Debbie Millman
Josh Liberson + Ethan Trask
Josh Liberson and Ethan Trask are designers and the founders of the firm Helicopter.



Adrian Shaughnessy
The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster
Designers often bemoan the lack of coverage given to graphic design in mainstream media. Yet when design catches the attention of journalists and commentators it usually results in a vicious mugging rather than hearty praise.



Debbie Millman
Alan Dye
An interview with former Kate Spade Design Director Alan Dye who is currently Creative Director at Apple.



William Drenttel
Al Gore for President
Writing as a designer, as a writer, as a husband and father, but most of all, as a human being — I believe we should draft Al Gore to run for the Presidency of the United States.



Debbie Millman
Jan Wilker + Hjalti Karlsson
Jan Wilker and Hjalti Karlsson are partners in karlssonwilker and the authors of Tell Me Why.



Debbie Millman
Alice Twemlow
British-born Alice Twemlow is a design critic and the author of What Is Graphic Design For? She also chairs the Design Criticism department at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

 

  




Debbie Millman
Luke Hayman
Previously Design Director at I.D. Magazine, Brill’s Content,Travel + Leisure, and New York Magazine, Luke Hayman is now a partner in the New York office of Pentagram.



Alice Twemlow
The Bandwidth of Books
Publishers are publishing artists' work and the research and ideas generated from thinking about art. They are passionate about their missions, mostly locally focused and non-commercial in attitude. The quality of their work is often very high; their books well conceived and produced, and innovatively designed. But the question is, who is reading them?



Jessica Helfand
The New Manifest Destiny
When does a picture solidify a news story, and when does it merely sensationalize it? Decisions about words and pictures are made by editors and publishers, designers and photographers — but they are consumed by a public fully capable of an entire range of emotional responses. After this week's events at Virginia Tech, words and pictures do a poor job of communicating outrage and pain. And no amount of compositional ingenuity can reverse what happened.



Debbie Millman
Janet Froelich
An interview with Janet Froelich, former Creative Director at The New York Times Magazine, who is currently Design Director at Real Simple.



Debbie Millman
Barbara Kruger
An interview with American artist Barbara Kruger.



Michael Bierut
Our Little Secret
The documentary Helvetica premieres in a world where everyone knows how to do something that once only very few did: how to set type.



Debbie Millman
Jeffrey Keyton
An interview with Jeffrey Keyton, Senior Vice Ppresident, On-Air Design and Off-Air Creative, MTV.



Debbie Millman
Luba Lukova
An interview with award-winning illustrator Luba Lukova, whose work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress and Bibliotheque Nationale in France. 



Rob Walker
TV Land
Buying, selling, updating, restoring and “flipping” for quick profits — it all ran together, but I watched even when I couldn’t remember if the title of a certain show was “Flip This House” or “Flip That House.”



Debbie Millman
Not David Carson
A special interview about David Carson, featuring guest vocalist Simon Lince.



Debbie Millman
Jakob Trollback
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, an interview with designer and filmmaker Jakob Trollback — who is also a DJ.



Debbie Millman
Andrea Deszo
An interview with designer, artist and educator Andrea Deszo.



David Stairs
That (Other) 1970's: The Last King of Scotland
The Last King of Scotland, Kevin McDonald's film about Idi Amin's notorious presidency, opened in Uganda to great fanfare. The VIP screening took place at Kampala's Cineplex, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Forest Whitaker in attendance. The premiere was not targeted to the average Ugandan...



Steven Heller
The Other Monocle
Let's look back to another, virtually forgotten but decidedly important, magazine with the very same name — one that published under the motto, "In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king." Monocle.



Debbie Millman
Minda Gralnek
On this episode, Debbie Millman interviews Minda Gralnek, Executive Vice President for Creative Services at the Target Corporation.



Michael Bierut
Cheap Music and Commercial Art
You wouldn't know it from Dreamgirls, but Motown staff songwriters Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland were examples of how art is created under pressure.



Debbie Millman
Marty Neumeier
Marty Neumeier is a brand consultant and the author of Brand Gap, Zag and The Brand Dictionary.



Debbie Millman
Elliott Earls
On this episode, Debbie interviews designer and performance artist Elliott Earls, designer-in residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art.



William Drenttel
The Good Citizen's Alphabet
Bertrand Russell had the wisdom to realize that certain words require proper definition to be used correctly in political and social discourse. This alphabet book is offered here as a slide show for our readers.



Adrian Shaughnessy
"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"
The current issue of Creative Review is "guest edited" by hip British advertising agency Mother. The theme, suggested by Mother, is I Sold My Soul And I Love It — a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication."



Debbie Millman
Doyald Young
Master typographer Doyald Young is also the author of The Art of the Letter, Logotypes, and Letterforms: Handlettered Logotypes and Other Typographic Considerations.



Debbie Millman
Designers, Writers + Magazines
A conversation with Print’s Joyce Rutter Kaye; Dwell’s Michela Abrahms; Barbara DeWilde of House Beautiful and Laetitia Wolff of Surface.



Debbie Millman
Ze Frank
Debbie Millman interviews Ze Frank — writer, designer and host of The Ze Frank Show.



Michael Bierut
The It Factor
In their 1983 book Quintessence: The Quality of Having It, Owen Edwards and Betty Cornfeld created an elegant and influential treatise in what makes something the real thing, a lesson that Steve Jobs has obviously absorbed.



Michael Erard
Word Made Flesh
The forgotten discipline of sentence diagramming forces the structure of language to wear the clothes of images. A sentence diagram is less a map than a portrait, and in this vaudeville language is painted, corsetted and trussed.



Debbie Millman
Seth Godin
Seth Godin is the author of Purple Cow and All Marketers Are Liars.



William Drenttel
Diversity as Form: The Yale Architecture Posters
Since 1998, Michael Bierut has worked with Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designing more than 40 posters. Mohawk Fine Papers has published a book celebrating this collaboration: Forty Posters for the Yale School of Architecture.



Debbie Millman
Malcolm Gladwell + Joyce Gladwell
An interview with Malcolm Gladwell, author of The New York Times bestseller Outliers and Joyce Gladwell, author of Brown Face.



Alissa Walker
War Is Over! If You Want It
When the star of the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is asked by a reporter what he thinks Nixon should do to end the Vietnam War, Lennon stares incredulously into the camera. "He should declare peace." As if this was the most obvious solution in the world.



Michael Bierut
The Graphic Glass Ceiling
A week ago, I was the moderator of a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y with Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd and Dave Eggers. Afterwards, someone asked, "Why do you — all three of you — suppose there are so few female graphic designers — or at least so few female 'superstar' graphic designers?" There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. What would your answer be?



Dmitri Siegel
M...O...T...I...O...N
The work of directors PES and Kris Moyes leads to a discussion of the history of stop motion animation.



Jessica Helfand
How Hollywood Nailed The Half-Pipe
Pixar
and Animal Logic have mastered a particularly persuasive (and as it turns out, rather literal) form of spin that makes Road Runner look like dryer lint.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Listomania
The English design group Spin has produced a publication called 50 Reading Lists, which allows the reader the double pleasure of admiring the handsome presentation of 50 lists, as well as the chance to study the reading habits of 50 graphic designers.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing
In partnership with AIGA, we launched the Winterhouse Writing Awards for Design and Criticism, an initiative to increase the appreciation of design — by recognizing new voices in design criticism and commentary. Here are the 2006 recipients.



Michael Bierut
The Golden Age of American Commercialism
The encroachment of commercialism into everyday life seems like a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Yet around one hundred years ago, America began a romance with salesmanship that today seems almost delirious. A 1922 business directory shows how great crass commercialism used to look.



DJ Stout
Remembering Ann Richards
To create the famous Texas Monthly cover of Governor Ann Richards astride a Harley, art director DJ Stout used a body double. "For many years, I would run into Ann Richards at my favorite Mexican food lunch spot in downtown Austin and she would always thank me for giving her such a 'sexy body.'"



Michael Bierut
Helmut Krone, Period.
One of the greatest designers that ever lived was an advertising art director: Doyle Dane Bernbach's Helmut Krone. A new book celebrates his life and work.



William Drenttel
Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)
How do we measure the danger level from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus? What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times. We took our cue from a certain John James Audubon. Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.



Michael Bierut
Where the Happy People Go
The ferociously positive letters column in Architectural Digest magazine demonstrates that design can make people almost unnervingly happy.



Jessica Helfand
The Right Stuff
Prada is yet another in a long line of stories in which posessions loom large, at once shining beacons of material success and wagging fingers of moral turpitude. When will we have enough stuff?



Debbie Millman
John Maeda
A disussion with former MIT Media Lab Director John Maeda, who is currently the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design.



Debbie Millman
Steve Sikora, Thomas R. Wright + Charlie Lazor
Steve Sikora, Thomas R. Wright and Charlie Lazo discuss the finer points of pre-fab houses and modern design.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Werner Herzog and the Deeper Truth
For hardcore cineastes — and bug-eyed amateur movie buffs like me — DVD audio tracks are an invention of Guttenburgian proportions. Few technological advances in the realm of art and culture can equal the joy afforded by an articulate and perceptive commentary specially prepared to accompanying a movie.



Debbie Millman
Stanley Hainsworth
On this episode, Debbie Millman interviews Stanley Hainsworth, former Design Director at Starbucks and the founder of Tether in Seattle.



Debbie Millman
Paola Antonelli
An interview with Paola Antonelli, curator in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art.  



Lawrence Weschler
Koppel to Cooper: Cool, Cooler, Cold
Hey, maybe that's the ticket for McSweeney's: Put some bigtime sexy celebrity on the cover, somebody huge and charismatic and irresistible, somebody like, you know...Ted Koppel! What then to make of this month's cover of Vanity Fair? The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the studmuffin du mois, may be an occasion for some serious concern.



Michael Bierut
The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?
A new magazine from Business Week on design and innovation was created through an unpaid competition. If this is innovation, to hell with it.



Debbie Millman
Ann Willoughby
Debbie Millman interviews Ann Willoughby, president and creative director of Willoughby Design Group, a brand, innovation and identity design firm she founded in 1978.  



Debbie Millman
William Lunderman
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman interviews William Lunderman, Vice President for Global Design at the Colgate-Palmolive Company.



Jessica Helfand
Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism




Michael Bierut
Eight-and-a-Half by Eleven
An installation of over 10,000 tiled pieces 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper redeems what has often been dismissed as a banal graphic format.



Julie Lasky
The Photography of Mark Robbins
Mark Robbins'
Households is a collection of portraits in which the sitters are sometimes sitting rooms (or kitchens or bedrooms), and the people are polished, draped, and arrayed like furniture. Composed to resemble architectural plans or elevations — or in some cases the triptychs of medieval altarpieces — the images represent home dwellers and their environments. Flesh, bone, brick, stone, contoured torsos, and varnished chairs assume equal status. The message is simple: You may not be what you eat, but you most certainly are where you live.



Debbie Millman
Gael Towey
On this episode, Debbie Millman talks to Gael Towey — the editor and founding Creative Director at Martha Stewart Living.



Debbie Millman
Bad Boys of Design III
This group of Bad Boy designers are: Josh Chen, Manuel Toscano, Alan Dye and Layne Braunstein.



Debbie Millman
Brian Collins
Brian Collins led the brand and innovation division of Ogilvy and  Mather for nearly a decade, before founding his own firm — Collins — in 2007.



Willis Regier
In Remembrance of Richard Eckersley
Richard Eckersley died on April 16, having given the best years of his life to establishing the importance of high-quality book design for university presses. Here, a remembrance by Willis Regier, director of the University of Illinois Press.



Debbie Millman
Ed Fella
Ed Fella is an artist, graphic designer and educator whose work has had a critical influence on contemporary typography in the United States and in Europe. 



Debbie Millman
Jessica Helfand + William Drenttel
Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel work in partnership at Winterhouse and are co-founders, with Michael Bierut and Rick Poynor, of Design Observer.



Debbie Millman
Steven Heller + Veronique Vienne
A conversation with writer Véronique Vienne, writer and prolific design historian Steven Heller.



Debbie Millman
Art Chantry
Art Chantry works and lives in Seattle where his ideas and personal style branded the look of popular culture, not only in the northwest and its bohemian underground, but also in the pop and alternative culture of the last few decades.  



Michael Bierut
Variations on a Theme: New York's High Priorities
A half-page weekly feature in New York magazine has become a showcase for some of the world's best graphic designers.



Debbie Millman
Peter Buchanan-Smith
Peter Buchanan-Smith, founder of Buchanan-Smith LLC, is the author of Speck and The Wilco Book.



Debbie Millman
Kenneth FitzGerald
Artist, educator and writer Kenneth FitzGerald is currently Associate Professor of Art and Graduate Program Director in the art department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.



Debbie Millman
Christoph Niemann
An interview with German-born designer and illustrator Christoph Niemann, who claims to have only one trick: “sitting in front of a white piece of paper and thinking, staring and drawing until my head hurts.”  



Dmitri Siegel
Broadcast vs. Broadband
Viral video is on the rise, spreading from broadband to broadcast and back again. What are the opportunities for designers in this new genre?



Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken
Grant McCracken is the author of Culture and Consumption IPlenitudeBig HairCulture and Consumption II: Markets, Meaning and Brand ManagementThe Long InterviewFlock and Flow, and Transforming Selves.  



Debbie Millman
Hillman Curtis
Hillman Curtis has designed motion graphic spots for clients such as MTV, Rolling Stone and Adobe and his innovative design solutions have garnered him numerous awards all over the world.



Debbie Millman
Paul Sahre
Graphic designer, illustrator and author Paul Sahre established his own design company in 1997. His office is part design studio and part silkscreen lab: he designs book covers and prints posters.



Debbie Millman
Bill Grant
Bill Grant founded the Atlanta-based Grant Design Collaborative in 1996 and has worked with clients including Adobe Systems, Georgia-Pacific Papers and Steelcase, among many others.



Jessica Helfand
The D Word
HGTV's sunny splendor of twenty-seven minute remodels and inexhaustible inspiration: fodder for the DIY devotee.



Debbie Millman
Ellen Lupton
An interview with Ellen Lupton — writer, educator, designer and a Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Robert Brownjohn and The Big Idea




Debbie Millman
Rick Valicenti
Rick Valicenti, founder of the Chicago design firm Thirst and author of the book Emotion As Promotion, talks to Debbie Millman.



Debbie Millman
Chip Kidd
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks to Chip Kidd, award-winning book designer, musician and author.



Lorraine Wild
Good Font, Shame About The Reporting




Michael Bierut
The Unbearable Lightness of Fred Marcellino
Remembering Fred Marcellino, the designer and illustrator who dominated the look of quality fiction dustjackets in the 1980s.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Charles Dickens and The BBC
Who would have guessed that a
BBC costume drama would provide us with Exhibit-A in the defense's case — that a mass audience can be engaged without pandering to base instincts?



Dmitri Siegel
Bartleby™
In his classic story of Wall Street,
Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville recounts the tale of a humble copyist employed by the story's narrator. Could Bartleby's perfectly crafted refrain be the appropriate response to a world where every choice and configuration has been designed?



Lorraine Wild
Think Regional, Act Annual
Flying from New York to Los Angeles last week, I spent the long hours at 35,000 feet doing something I had not done in years: I read the Print Magazine's "2005 Regional Design Annual" cover to cover. Here are some of the things I learned:



Michael Bierut
Innovation is the New Black
Innovation is the latest buzzword to overtake the design profession. What does it mean?



William Drenttel
David Hughes: Caricaturist of Our Time
But my favorite, in recent years, is the British illustrator David Hughes. I yearn for his drawings, look for them in my favorite publications, and save them whenever and wherever I find them.



Rick Poynor
Emigre: An Ending
Issue 69 of Emigre will be the last. In its heyday, it was the most consistently interesting design publication produced by anyone, anywhere. By 1990, it was one of those magazines you simply had to get hold of and read straight away.



Jessica Helfand
John Stossel on Graphic Design
This film was made in 2005 for 20/20, a beloved AIGA National Conference segment in which twenty designers are asked to talk about something for one minute each. This particular year, the conference itself had no theme, leaving Jessica Helfand no choice but to write a script for John Stossel, co-host, with Elizabeth Vargas, of the ABC-TV program, 20/20.



Rick Poynor
Where Are the Design Critics?
There is no reason why design criticism shouldn’t take an oppositional view of design's instrumental uses and its social role, but few design writers seem motivated to produce this kind of criticism.



Rick Poynor
The Guardian’s New European Look
The Guardian's choice of the "Berliner" format, half-way between broadsheet and tabloid, is an inspired alternative. The paper is the first British title to adopt this European page size. Elegant, well-proportioned pages make its tabloid rivals look like poor relations.



William Drenttel
Reading the News & Charting Death
The potential for terrorism is not a chart I can make in my head. The numbers are there, but the design alludes me.



Michael Bierut
Every New Yorker is a Target
The latest New Yorker magazine has only one advertiser: Target. The effect is disorienting.



Jessica Helfand
Why Bugs Don't Belong on TV
On today's TV screens, the station-identification logo sits tethered to the surface, like an annoying rash that won't quite disappear. You think you've kicked it when — WHAMMMO — there it is again, blemishing the patina of an otherwise perfectly good viewing experience.



Michael Bierut
Credit Line Goes Here
Design is essentially a collaborative enterprise. That makes assigning credit for the products of our work a complicated issue.



Debbie Millman
Paula Scher
Paula Scher — arguably the most successful and influential woman working in design today — began her graphic design career as a record cover Art Director in the 1970s. She has been a Pentagram partner since 1991.



Michael Bierut
Rick Valicenti: This Time It's Personal
In his newly-published monograph Emotion as Promotion: A Book of Thirst, Rick Valicenti provides a glimpse into a designer's life that is at once accessibly seductive and brazenly idiosyncratic.



Rick Poynor
We Are All Editors Now. Or Are We?
Many designers aspire to be editors. But being an editor is not simply about choosing some things you like and throwing them together. Editing is about deep engagement with content and the construction of meaning.



Debbie Millman
Stefan Sagmeister
A candid and revealing discussion with design innovator Stefan Sagmeister, whose work has been hailed as “intense, cunning and evocative.” 



Michael Bierut
The Obvious, Shunned by So Many, Is Successfully Avoided Once Again
Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer? Publications of designers' own work demonstrate what effort they go through to needlessly complicate what might be simple solutions.



William Drenttel
Catastrophic Imaginings: The Design of Disaster
In the end, artificial disasters are designed to elicit and test the responses of participants. In their recording, both allow for a post-mortem evaluation. How did I do? How would I respond? Would I sit patiently in my car a mile up the road? Would I watch from my window, safe in my home?



Debbie Millman
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon + Jake Gorst
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon and Jake Gorst talk about Gorst's new documentary Leisurama.






Debbie Millman
Design Blogs: The Good, the Bad and the Nasty
Rick Poynor, Armin Vit, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Jen Beckman, Adrian Hanft and Bennett Holzworth discuss the finer points of design blogging.



Jessica Helfand
The Cut: When Life Imitates Art (I Mean Design)
CBS Television debuted its new series,
The Cut, (modeled after other reality shows such as NBC's The Apprentice)about "16 aspiring designers."



Rick Poynor
Mevis and Van Deursen: Rueful Recollections, Recycled Design
In their self-edited monograph, Dutch graphic designers Mevis and Van Deursen turn their backs on their professed commitment to ideas and treat the book mainly as an opportunity for undemanding aesthetic play.



Rick Poynor
But Darling of Course it’s Normal: The Post-Punk Record Sleeve
There have been collections of post-punk music and now, finally, there is British music critic Simon Reynolds' 500-page history of the genre from 1978 to 1984. It's a brilliant book. He argues that post-punk music's explosion of creativity equals the golden age of popular music in the mid-1960s, but that it has never received its full due. I think he's right.



Lorraine Wild
A Design Annual Captures 1968
The title on the cover of the booklet is "Business as Usual" subtitled "Fourteenth Annual Type Directors Show—Typography Wherever It Exists"... On every spread of the book there are lovely pieces of typography, things most any of us would have been proud to have created, and then an image as brutal as a slap on the face. It was 1968.



Adrian Shaughnessy
The Designer as Buffoon
The "Designer as Buffoon" phenomenon can be seen in two big-budget, prime-time advertising campaigns currently showing on British television. Both Ford and Ikea are promoting their respective products by offering us pumped-up caricatures of designers and inviting us to guffaw at them.



Michael Bierut
The Supersized, Temporarily Impossible World of Bruce McCall
Illustrator Bruce McCall's vision of an exhuberant, overscale America is evoked by the opening of a new McDonald's in Chicago.



Debbie Millman
Michael Bierut

Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. and worked for a decade at Vignelli Associates before joining Pentagram as a partner in 1990.





Rick Poynor
Wisconsin Death Trip: A Psychic History
Michael Lesy’s book Wisconsin Death Trip documented awful events in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, using a town photographer’s pictures. Years later, it remains a spellbinding piece of literary and photographic alchemy.



Rick Poynor
Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot
Dot Dot Dot is the most stimulating and original visual culture magazine produced by designers since Emigre's heyday in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.



William Drenttel
Moving the Axum Obelisk
In the mid-1990s, I saw an exhibition at the New York Public Library of the greatest illustrated books of the 19th century. One book stood out for me: a massive tome by Henry H. Gorringe, titled Egyptian Obelisks and dated 1882. It’s in my design collection because of a dubious memory that it’s the first book to document a from-start-to-finish design process. Of course, the process it documents is how one moves an obelisk.



Debbie Millman
Steven Heller
Debbie Millman interviews Steven Heller — art director, educator and the author of more than 100 books on design, design history and contemporary culture.



Lawrence Weschler
The Aural As An Architectonic Challenge
What are the people over at Transom.org up to? As it happens, this month is a very good time to pay them a visit: for the next several weeks, Walter Murch — the phenomenally smart and inspired film and sound editor — will be continuing to hold court there.



William Drenttel
Chris Marker: La Jetée
For years, I've owned a copy of La Jetée, a book about the film by Chris Marker, the experimental filmmaker. Designed by Bruce Mau and published by MIT Press/Zone Books in 1993, this is one of those design books that has ascended into the realm of rare bookdom...



Michael Bierut
The Comfort of Style
The design process at the World Trade Center site has attracted enormous interest on one hand, and marginalized the role of designers on the other, as described in Philip Nobel's book Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero.



Momus
The Vice Design Issue
The Vice Design Issue is not an anti-design tract, but the championing of an aesthetic that's already quite well-established, already wowing museum curators - a casual, trashy, porno-party style that celebrates tack, lo-tech and the good old bohemian values of sex, drugs and rock and roll.



Michael Bierut
The Best Artist in the World
Alton Tobey, a little-known commercial illustrator, created a body of work in the early sixties that continues to inspire.



Rick Poynor
The I.D. Forty: What Are Lists For?
How do we measure one kind of achievement in design against another to arrive at a ranking? The truth is we can’t. The real purpose of I.D.’s list was to underscore the magazine’s position as selector and taste-maker.



Dmitri Siegel
Mysterious Disappearance of Carol Hersee
The story of Carol Hersee's portrait as Test Card F: since it first appeared in 1967 on BBC2, Carol's face has been on-air for over 70,000 hours.



William Drenttel
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag: a designer's twenty-five years of interaction with the legandary writer.



Michael Bierut
The Other Rand
The Fountainhead, a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand, continues to exert its influence over generations of architects and designers.



Michael Bierut
Just Say Yes
A seemingly legitimate news release from Dow Chemical on the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster was actually a hoax perpetrated by The Yes Men, who have created a new kind of civil disobedience uniquely suited to the media age.



Jessica Helfand
Donald Trump, Art Director: Not The Real Thing
Not until now has Pepsi opened itself up to a public makeover on national television, a redesign in the hands of a smattering of aspiring capitalists, a group whose combined knowledge of design principles might be characterized as, dare I say it — negligible.



Michael Bierut
Logogate in Connecticut, or, The Rodneydangerfieldization of Graphic Design: Part II
A new logo for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism by Cummings & Good provokes a public controversy on the value of design.



Jessica Helfand
The Designibles
What's incredible about The Incredibles is the art of design capture. Because when it comes to nailing design, the "Is" have it.



Michael Bierut
First Person Shooter
News photographs from Iraq are eerily reminiscent of video game images.



Rick Poynor
Who's In and Who's Out of the Dictionary
A Dictionary of Modern Design gives exemplary treatment to industrial designers, furniture designers, and the organisations that served them. Once again, though, graphic design emerges as the also-ran of design.



William Drenttel
On Making Things




Jessica Helfand
Magazine Without a Name, Brand Without a Promise




William Drenttel
Font Forensics, Or Whether George W. Bush Is Hiding Something




Jessica Helfand
An Instrument of Sufficiently Lucid Cogitation
The legendary French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, who died on Tuesday at his home in the South of France, always carried a sketchbook with him. Today's obituary in The New York Times alleges that he described drawing as meditative, while photography was intuitive: though certainly both activities might have been informed by a relentless need to observe and in a sense, preserve the world around him.



Rick Poynor
Britain and America: United in Idiocy
What do Brits and Americans think of each other? In Us & Them, a book by the satirical British illustrator Paul Davis, the two countries have one thing in common: they are both equally stupid. That’s not saying much.



Michael Bierut
The Bodoni Conspiracy
Eerie parallels between the cover designs of the reports of the 9/11 Commission and the Monicagate investigator Kenneth Starr suggest a conspiracy that can be traced back to sixteenth-century type designer Giambattista Bodoni.



Jessica Helfand
Graphic Design: The Movie
Some time ago, I pondered about the future of graphic design as a reality show, but recently I've become convinced that its real future lies in its actual integrated presence onscreen: design as part prop, part protagonist.



Michael Bierut
Pablo Ferro Offers You His Protection
The title design for the film Napoleon Dynamite, credited to Pablo Ferro [although designed in fact by actor Aaron Ruell], provoke an assessment of Ferro's influence in the world of motion graphics.



Michael Bierut
To Hell with the Simple Paper Clip
Answering the question "What's your favorite designed object?" with something humble and anonymous may be a tiresome cliche, but it's one that resonates with editors of the New York Times Magazine and curators at the Museum of Modern Art.



William Drenttel
Posted Without Comment




Rick Poynor
Where are the Design Intellectuals?
Prospect magazine has published a list of the 100 top British public intellectuals. A handful of visual art and architecture people make the cut, but no from design is included, reflecting its absence from public debate.



Jessica Helfand
Designer by Day, Catwoman by Night




Michael Bierut
McSweeney's No. 13 and the Revenge of the Nerds
McSweeney's No. 13, published by Dave Eggers and guest edited by Chris Ware, is a masterwork of publication design and an invaluable survey of today's best comic artists and graphic novelists.



William Drenttel
Learning from Las Vegas: The Book That (Still) Takes My Breath Away




Jessica Helfand
Time Waits for No Fan




Rick Poynor
Critics and Their Purpose
Pulling a 1960s art magazine from the shelf, I opened it at random to find a long list of thoughts about art criticism assembled in 1966 by students at the Royal College of Art in London. Many of these ideas apply to design.



Michael Bierut
Catharsis, Salesmanship, and the Limits of Empire
Nozone #9: Empire and a new promotional campaign for the radio station Air America demonstrate alternate ways that graphic design can engage political issues and their audiences.



Michael Bierut
I Hear You’ve Got Script Trouble: The Designer as Auteur
Screenwriter William Goldman has written about how difficult it is to ascribe authorship for a film. The same may be true for graphic design, which, like filmmaking, is essentially a collaborative activity.



Rick Poynor
Theory with a Small "t"
A critical writing determined by the need to shape practice will be limited in the cultural insights it can offer. This is the last thing that design writing needs when ways to engage a wider public could be opening up.



Jessica Helfand
Graphic Flanerie
Graphic Design's real power comes from its ability to reach us through any of a number of means, both real and virtual, now and later. This ability to transcend the everyday and resonate in the heart, the soul, the mind and the memory—this is graphic design's reality, its legacy, and it is, decidedly, a reality that is more than a sum of its parts.



William Drenttel
El Lissitzky for Pesach




Rick Poynor
How to Say What You Mean
There is a crucial difference between subtle and complex ideas and needlessly convoluted forms of expression. The challenge now for design writing is to move outwards into a world in which design is everywhere.



Michael Bierut
Stanley Kubrick and the Future of Graphic Design
Stanley Kubrick's attention to the nuances of graphic design, typography, and branding went far beyond his well-documented obsession with Futura Extra Bold. 2001: A Space Odyssey in particular projects a perfectly designed vision of the future that has never been topped.



Michael Bierut
The Book (Cover) That Changed My Life
The deceptively simple 1960s paperback cover of J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" is redolent of a very specific time and place to readers who discovered the book then.



Jessica Helfand
Annals of Typographic Oddity: Mourning Becomes Helvetica




William Drenttel
Defamiliarization: A Personal History




Michael Bierut
The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover
Comparing the magazine covers of today to those created for Esquire magazine in the 1960s by George Lois leads to only one conclusion: today's magazine ideal magazine cover is enticing, not arresting, aiming not for shock, but for seduction. And it stinks.



Jessica Helfand
You're Going to Hollywood, Baby




Michael Bierut
Rob Roy Kelly’s Old, Weird America
The late educator and designer Rob Roy Kelly has had a lasting influence on the profession of graphic design, particularly through his landmark book "American Wood Type."



William Drenttel
Adolf Wölfli Invents Design Brut?
Mr. Gomez has taken your basic 19th-century-madman-artist and turned him into a model 20th century graphic designer.



Michael Bierut
The Forgotten Design Legacy of the National Lampoon
The rerelease of the National Lampoon's ersatz and hilarious "1964 C. Estes Kefauver Memorial High School Yearbook" is a reminder that the magazine's art directors, Michael Gross and David Kaestle, anticipated our profession's obsession with vernacular graphic languages by almost fifteen years.



Michael Bierut
Errol Morris Blows Up Spreadsheet, Thousands Killed
Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara" demonstrates his mastery of information design as a poetic narrative device.



Rick Poynor
Adbusters in Anarchy
Adbusters’ once orderly pages are in a state of heaving agitation. The magazine seems to be seduced by the coolness of design as a gesture, even though this is part of the surface-fixated postmodernism it deplores.



William Drenttel
Shallow Water Dictionary
A couple of years ago I stumbled across a little out-of-print tract called the Shallow Water Dictionary: A Grounding in Estuary English by John R. Stilgoe, a professor of landscape architecture at Harvard.



Jessica Helfand
Implausible Fictions
At what point does the designer's interpretation threaten to skew, or misrepresent or somehow implausibly amplify information in a manner that might be considered irresponsible?



William Drenttel
Information Archaeology
Russ Kick is "a self-described 'information archaeologist...'" The revealing of state secrets through deconstructing a PDF.



Jessica Helfand
Color Me Kurt
Having seen Schwarzenegger as a black man before he was elected Governor, one can only imagine what's next for Colors under Kurt Andersen.



Rick Poynor
It's a Man's World
Adam Parfrey’s book shows hundreds of men’s magazine covers from the 1950s painted by artists who specialized in depictions of tough guys abusing terrified women. Have we outgrown this kind of thing? Heck no.



Jessica Helfand
Fatal Grandeur
Maybe design isn't going to kill you if it falls on your head. But if YOU fall, design is not exactly going to save you, either.



Michael Bierut
The New York Times: Apocalypse Now, Page A1
Michael Bierut on the typographic redesign of the New York Times, October 2003.



William Drenttel
VAS: An Opera in Flatland
VAS: An Opera in Flatland is the first full-length novel by Steve Tomasula and Stephen Farrell.



Jessica Helfand
The Art of Elegant Abstraction
Bill Morrison's surprising 66-minute film is now playing on the Sundance Channel. For listings, see: http://www.sundancechannel.com/film_finder/index.php?startingLetter=d



Jessica Helfand
The Real Declaration




William Drenttel
Paul Rand: Bibliography as Biography
This is bibliography as biography, and a posthumous testament to the considerable scope — and ongoing life — of one designer's mind. A Selected Bibliography of Books from the Collection of Paul Rand



Observed | December 14

In 1976 John Foster bought fiberboard art boards for an art class he taught in a school in St. Louis. In 2018 he returned to the school to find the art boards still in use—a visual palimpsest of 40+ years of aspiring artists.
[BV]


Observed | December 13

The third edition of In Our Time: A Year of Architecture in a Day, The Met‘s take on the best architecture, art, technology, photography and design projects of the year will take place on 19th January, 2019. [BV]

#TBT: Spot the ashtray in these groovy pics of mid-sixties interior décor [BV]


Observed | December 12

Gossip,” the newest issue of AIGA Eye on Design magazine, gives us the inside scoop on all the need-to-know design deets of the past year—designer feuds, workplace woes, and more—and it’s out now. [LS]

On fifteen years of reading Design Observer and helping Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand make a new book. [BV]


Observed | December 10

What a new retrospective reveals about Andy Warhol, and about our swerve away from humanism. [BV]

The 1st printing of the Bolted Book sold out so fast that it’s going into a second printing in January 2019. Sign up now to receive a free custom-designed book display stand. [BV]


Observed | December 07

The boozy and violent story behind America‘s Eggnog Riot. [BV]


Observed | December 06

#TBT: Vintage tech: the ballpoint pen. [BV]

#TBT: The beauty of a well-designed knob. [BV]


Observed | December 05

The competitive book sorters who spread knowledge around New York. [BV]

What do Dick Bruna’s covers have to do with Japanese matchboxes? This exhibition finally answers that question. [BV]


Observed | December 04

During World War I, in the ensnarled disputes about wartime deception and the equal rights of women, conspicuous “dazzle-painted” ships were condemned as “painted women.” Social Repercussions of World War I Ship Camouflage. [BV]

Rumsey Taylor, from the New York Times, on All of It from WNYC, about his story “The Mystery Font That Took Over New York.” Joined by Steven Heller about the history of storefront signs in NYC. (17.00 mins or thereabouts) [BV]


Observed | December 03

Mourned by many: Glamour magazine is gone. [BV]

The new font Berthe, from Abyme, is featured in the new online publication of Caractères ordinaires. [BV]


Observed | November 30

Beautifully-designed Bauhaus books and journals by Gropius, Klee, Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy and more, now available for free download. [MB]


Observed | November 29

We live at the end of an era characterized by relentless anxiety around the self as a product: what it means, who owns it, what it costs, what it’s worth. [BV]

Three innovations that started out as inclusive design solutions. [BV]


Observed | November 28

A new model for social design? The NYC Democratic Socialists of America offers an interesting example for systematizing volunteer political design work. [BV]


Observed | November 27

Likely the United States’ first woman employee, Mary Katharine Goddard signed the Declaration of Independence and was a key figure in promoting the ideas that fomented the Revolution. [BV]

Fighting an outlaw biker gang by...seizing the rights to its logo? [MB]


Observed | November 26

A working guide to the repair of rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code in our cities, our homes, and our social relations. [BV]

In this age of data and its manipulation, it’s important to remember algorithms are opinions, not truth machines, and demand the application of ethics. Don’t believe us? Watch this short animated video. [BV]


Observed | November 23

With 26 million TONS of plastic ending up in the ocean every year, we’re thankful for entrepreneurs like this who can turn a plastic bottle into a fashion statement. [BV]

Ever wondered where Hogwarts is located? Or the Castle of Aaagggghhhh? Check out Fake Britain: a map of fictional locations in England, Scotland and Wales. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | November 21

Glenn Gould’s heavily marked-up score for the Goldberg variations surfaces, letting us look inside his creative process. [BV]

A visual indulgence: Brassaï, the outsider who photographed Paris after dark. [BV]


Observed | November 20

Prolific title designer Pablo Ferro is recognized for introducing narrative and nonlinear dimensions to films spanning from Dr. Strangelove to Men in Black. Ferro passed on Saturday. His legacy lives on. [BV]

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



Jobs | December 14