Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | The Observatory

Episode 120: Federal Style




Steven Heller | Interviews

Arthur Szyk Forever Relevant!

“To call [Arthur] Szyk a ‘cartoonist’ is tantamount to calling Rembrandt a dauber or Chippendale a carpenter.”...
| Report

Disrupting Time and Space

Exploring how graphic design pedagogy can re-evaluate the structures that we operate within and how we can use those structures to create, rather than hinder, progress....
Debbie Millman | Audio

Chanel Miller

A conversation with Chanel Miller about rape culture....
Steven Heller | Essays

What’s Black and White and Re(a)d All Over?

Steven Heller on The New York Times in the 1930s and 40s and the Communist party....
Debbie Millman | Audio

Tosh Hall

A conversation with designer Tosh Hall about how to work with established brands....
Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Episode 119: Soldiers and Generals

Kyle Chayka’s “The Longing for Less”; minimalism; Hugh Weber joins Design Observer; Don Norman on collaboration; Maggie Gram on design thinking; the death of Mr. Peanut; Fanchon & Marco...
Steven Heller | Interviews

Posters of Caution and Hope From Chernobyl

An interview with Oleg Veklenko, a Ukrainian graphic designer conscripted into the cleanup and mitigation near the exploded Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the first “hottest” two months of accident....
Debbie Millman | Audio

Chani Nicholas

On this episode: a conversation with Chani Nicholas about her life in astrology....
Steven Heller | Essays

The Apperception Test That Sealed My Fate

I’ve been influenced by many images, sounds, and words, but unbeknown to me, my future once hinged on my response to one 8-by-10 illustrated card....
The Editors | Press Releases

Design Observer Appoints Hugh Weber as New Managing Director

In this new role with Design Observer, Weber will work with the senior leadership team to develop programs and partnerships that amplify design’s critical role in civil society....


Observed | February 12

“We can’t just be about making things pretty.” —Jessica Helfand talks with Lorne Buchman on the latest Change Lab podcast from ArtCenter. [BV]

Could anyone be the girl (or boy) with a Pearl earring? (via Joy Miller) [BV]


Observed | February 04

Humans at work”: the new call of Posterheroes is inviting the international creative community to share their message about the future of work. [BV]

The pitfalls and the potential of the new minimalism. [BV]


Observed | February 03

Architects wrestle with a thorny conundrum: ampersand or plus sign? (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

And to think this entire election may rest on font size. [JH]


Observed | January 31

The past and future of punctuation marks. [BV]


Observed | January 29

Vermont could be the first state in the US to allow emoji on license plates. [BV]


Observed | January 28

Looking for your people? A regular mixer brings together designers and typography nerds who get consumed by spacing and serifs. [BV]


Observed | January 22

A new book explores the cold heart of Frank Lloyd Wright. [BV]


Observed | January 20

A facial recognition app with what appear to be endless weaponization possibilities. Truly. [JH]


Observed | January 15

A beautiful remembrance by Melissa Harris about Mercy Cunningham, in the New York Review of Books this week. [JH]


Observed | January 14

Are typefaces political? Researchers find "serif and bold is rated as more conservative, while sans serif and italics is rated as more liberal" [MB]

Congratulations to the entire AIGA community on their wonderful new executive director, Bennie F. Johnson! Here’s to bright futures. [BV]


Observed | January 13

Anyone interested in a “book about the future of human beings, as viewed by some of today‘s most creative minds working at the intersection of biology and technology...Think of it as a guide to your future self.”? Because we are! #FundThis [BV]


Observed | January 10

Donald Norman says we have to change the way we educate designers. [JH]


Observed | January 09

This is a very specific genre and Andrew Cushing is nailing it with Veronica Gent-level skills: “Name a fake startup and I’ll write an ad for it in the style of an NYC subway campaign.” [MB]

Take 2 minutes and ride shotgun through mid-century LA with Ed Ruscha’s photos and Jack Kerouac’s words. [BV]


Observed | January 08

“The short answer is that the intersection of art + science is in my blood... my favorite kind of artist residency is one where I get to work with scientists.” Our very own Jessica Helfand joins Caltech as a Winter 2020 artist-in-residence. [BV]

Royal Mail has released a set of stamps celebrating a golden era of British video game design from the 1980s and 90s. [BV]


Observed | January 07

Los Angeles’ favorite logos. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | January 02

Brand New‘s Armin Vit ranks the top twelve clickbait-iest design stories of 2019. [MB]


Observed | December 30

New research finds that typefaces are perceived as having political characteristics, with sans serif fonts seen as more liberal, and serif fonts as more conservative. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | December 29

Desperately sad to announce that Vaughan Oliver died peacefully today, with his partner Lee by his side. Great loss of friend and design hero. Vaughan Oliver (1957—2019). [AS]


Observed | December 27

Continuing the blessed holiday tradition that began at Design Observer, now at Curbed, Alexandra Lange + Mark Lamster review the year in design (with a special look back over the decade‘s greatest hits & misses). [MB]


Observed | December 17

A photographer captures the sculptural landscapes of California skateparks. [BV]


Observed | December 11

Matisse felt an intense love for books, and the care and attention he lavished on them included not just his illustrations, but also the selection of paper, typeface, and layout. [BV]


Observed | December 10

Stanford’s d.school attempts to move beyond Post-its on whiteboards. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | December 06

“I simply wanted to explore the interiority of both myself and others. I wanted to focus on what connected us rather than what separated us.” Painting friends in mid-conversation, Alex Bradley Cohen hides as much as he reveals. [BV]

Yello is a great new newsletter from journalist Hunter Schwarz “about the culture, branding, and visual rhetoric of politics in America.” Here are his 101 picks for visual moments that defined politics in the 2010s, including Edel Rodriguez’s melting Trump. [MB]



Jobs | February 17