Books

Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance

Emerson’s text is widely available to read online, but this new Volume edition—produced with Design Observer—elevates his wisdom through the printed word. With twelve essays from Jessica Helfand’s Self-Reliance Project: pledge now and order your copy today!




Culture is Not Always Popular

Culture is Not Always Popular

Founded in 2003, Design Observer inscribes its mission on its homepage: Writings about Design and Culture. Since our inception, the site has consistently embraced a broader, more interdisciplinary, and circumspect view of design's value in the world―one not limited by materialism, trends, or the slipperiness of style. Fifteen years, 6,700 articles, 900 authors, and nearly 30,000 comments later, this book is a combination primer, celebration, survey, and salute to a certain moment in online culture.



Observer Quarterly

Observer Quarterly

In the winter of 2015, we launched a new publication called Observer Quarterly. The idea is for each themed issue to include original writing, interviews, and photography alongside archival material that draws a narrative between the history and current condition of new and underappreciated aspects of design culture. Our first issue—the Acoustic Issue—covered new ways of looking at sound as part of the design landscape. The second issue examined tagging as a social, cultural, and indexical practice. And our newest issue—following our conference, Taste, which took place in Los Angeles in the spring of 2016—looks at the multiple intersections between design and food.



Observer Quarterly

Design | The Invention of Desire

Advancing a conversation that is unfolding around the globe, Jessica Helfand offers an eye-opening look at how designed things make us feel as well as how—and why—they motivate our behavior.

More books by Jessica Helfand




How To

How to

How to, Michael Bierut’s first career retrospective, is a landmark work in the field. Featuring more than thirty-five of his projects, it reveals his philosophy of graphic design—how to use it to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world. Specially chosen to illustrate the breadth and reach of graphic design today, each entry demonstrates Bierut’s eclectic approach. In his entertaining voice, the artist walks us through each from start to finish, mixing historic images, preliminary drawings (including full-size reproductions of the notebooks he has maintained for more than thirty-five years), working models and rejected alternatives, as well as the finished work. Throughout, he provides insights into the creative process, his working life, his relationship with clients, and the struggles that any design professional faces in bringing innovative ideas to the world. Offering insight and inspiration for artists, designers, students, and anyone interested in how words, images, and ideas can be put together, How to provides insight to the design process of one of this century’s most renowned creative minds.

More books by Michael Bierut




5050

50 Books | 50 Covers Catalog

The ultimate “book of books” to catalog the 2015 winners of the 50 | 50 competition. Publisher, author, and previous 50 Books | 50 Covers recipient Dave Eggers introduces the book. Photographer George Baier IV, who has photographed countless authors and book jacket projects himself, has thoughtfully taken pictures of every book and cover winner. Mohawk generously donated the finest paper. Printed offset, locally, here in the United States. Copies no longer available.



Observer Quarterly

Massimo Vignelli: Collected Writings

Massimo Vignelli (1931–2014) was one of the most influential designers of the twentieth—and twenty-first—centuries. The work he and his wife Lella accomplished at Vignelli Associates is universally admired. While Massimo himself never wrote for Design Observer, he appeared throughout its pages in spirit and as an example for over ten years. This collection of writings about Vignelli from the Design Observer archives—interviews, memories, observations, and critiques—includes selections from the lively comments and discussions that appeared after the original publication of these pieces. Contributors include Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand, Debbie Millman, and Alice Twemlow, among others. Get this book!



Persistence of Vision

Persistence of Vision: Collected Writings of William Drenttel

Designer and publisherWilliam Drenttel (1953–2013) was co-founder and editorial director of Design Observer. Since its inception in 2003, Drenttel contributed to Design Observer almost weekly on all manner of topics, from social change to democracy to his early career on Madison Avenue. We’ve collected two dozen essays—originally published on Design Observer—and an introduction by friend and former literary editor of the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier, and put them into print for the first time, including the lively comments and conversations that followed their original publication. Persistence of Vision is not only a tribute to a greatly missed design leader, but serves as an important addition to the design writing canon. Get this book!



Observed | January 21

How a design museum unearthed a treasure trove of classic Slovak games. [JH]

“Someone out there ... came up with the emoji grid as a spoiler-free way of sharing her results with other people.” Josh Wardle, creator of the internet word game Wordle, on the game’s minimalist design. (via Blake Eskin) [JH]

In other design news, the green M&M has been redesigned so that she will be “better represented to reflect confidence and empowerment, as a strong female, and known for much more than her boots.” (via Jeffrey Kittay.) [JH]

Colgate’s designers have spent more than five years redesigning their toothpaste tubes so they can be recycled in curbside bins. [JH]


Observed | January 14

Cooper Union is looking for a new architecture dean. [JH]

In a year of cancelled film and theatrical productions all over the world, production design gets a nice shout-out. [JH]

Meet the woman preserving 125 years of black history in Baltimore. [BV]


Observed | January 07

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

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

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


Observed | December 30

Book jackets as optical echoes. [JH]

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

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

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


Observed | December 23

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

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

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


Observed | December 17

Redesigning the euro—by 2024! [JH]

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

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

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

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


Observed | December 10

Design and traffic. [JH]

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

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

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

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


Observed | November 26

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

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


Observed | November 15

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

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

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



Jobs | January 26