Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.










































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































06.22.05
The Adventures of Cynic Boy and Design Mom in 3D
Brainwashed I may be, but I distinctly noted an homage to
Salvador Dalí — with perhaps a gentle nod to René Magritte — last night while sitting through Robert Rodriguez's ludicrous, yet oddly luscious new movie, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D.




06.10.05
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."







03.24.05
The Design Police
As unlikely as it sounds:  
Graphic Junkies is a photo blog by  "an active law enforcement officer in the state of Georgia." The photographs are remarkable; the context compelling.







02.16.05
The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block
On February 23,
Christies in New York will auction more than 1,000 items dating as far back as the early 17th century, all of it tracing the history of cyberspace.















































Observed


Organizations that embrace diversity tend to foster innovation, challenge ingrained thought patterns, and enhance financial performance. Its true benefits emerge when leaders and employees cultivate a sense of inclusion. How architecture is reckoning with the cultural and economic challenges of—and demands for—a more inclusive workforce.

Mapping climate change, and climate-vulnerable populations.

Recently, a number of new initiatives seeking to digitize enormous troves of once difficult-to-access records are giving African American families opportunities to recover more of their own histories. In the past, the difficulty stemmed from one critical oversight: enslaved African Americans were not recorded by their first and last names until after the 1870 census. Today, there are a number of institutions with digitized archives and searchable finding aids and more, among them, the International African American Museum’s Center for Family History in Charleston, South Carolina, and the United States Colored Troops Pension File Project. One scholar shares her discovery—and delight—in the process.

With a mission is to champion humanity-centered design, emphasizing the rights and well-being of all people and the shared ecosystem we call “the earth,  the Don Norman Design Award and Summit (DNDA) is now open for applications.

This Friday, March 1—to kickoff Women's History Month—Mellissa Huber, co-curator of the exhibition Women Dressing Women, will moderate a conversation at the Metropolitan Museum in New York on fashion, accessibility, sustainability, and design. Panelists include designer and educator Grace Jun, and the event will be livestreamed on the museum's YouTube channel.

Some seventy contemporary artists from the Middle East and North Africa are presenting the heritage of Arab design at the inaugural Design Doha Biennial, which began on February 24. “Recognizing that there are far too few platforms in our region for designers to present their work." observes Qatar Museums Chair Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, “the inauguration of Design Doha is a testament to the excellence and innovation of our region's design community”.

“Now and then, Mica Levi’s nearly absent score of serrated synthesizers rears up and snags your ear like a loop of razor wire, with long trails of reverb left hanging in the air like plumes of black smoke.” How sound design reaches in and grabs the senses, without letting go.

The creative minds at Swift Creatives are designing security systems that look like art. They call this sculptural surveillance.

Sara Little Turnbull was tiny but fierce (she stood a not-very-towering 4'11). The designer once described as “corporate America's secret weapon” was a leading practitioner for more than six decades, and remains an inspiration to countless women in design, technology, and (notably) in science. On her podcast, Lost Women of Science, American journalist Katie Hafner discusses the woman, the legend—and the N-95 mask.

Following President Biden's  2021 executive order to transform the customer experience, agencies have been rethinking how they can create organizational change and best practices—even at NASA—where design is leveraged in an effort to both build and sustain trust.  

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During a biopsy, a sample of her cancerous cells were collected without her knowledge. Education around Lacks has increased recently, and a statue and historical marker were dedicated to her last year in her birthplace of Roanoke. Now, a statue design contest is underway: they'll be accepting submissions until March 15. 

Goodbye war rooms, corner offices and—yikes—physical libraries, which have allegedly “gone the way of the landline and the Dictaphone” in law offices. Post-pandemic, with remote and hybrid work on the rise, a more collaborative, equitable spatial allocation means a more flexible, and some say more productive workplace. 

Can design be a catalyst for societal progress? Asmita Kerkar thinks it can. Her design philosophy is hinged on nurturing spaces that foster empathy and facilitate community engagement, grounded in a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity. She channels her passion into creating equitable environments, bridging the gap between design and social change

I love it. What is it?

Following the light. Letting the actors move. Envisioning—and sculpting—a mood. Jack Fisk, the production designer behind There Will Be Blood, The Revenant, and Killers of the Flower Moon, among many other award-winning films, explains it all

Tyler Perry puts the planned $800 million expansion of his studio in Atlanta on hold after seeing OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora, which debuted Feb. 15. “Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind-blowing,” he said. With AI, there’s no need to travel to locations or build specialized sets. The future impacts are concerning, he says. “[A]s I was looking at it, I immediately started thinking of everyone in the industry who would be affected by this, including actors and grip and electric and transportation and sound and editors, and looking at this, I’m thinking this will touch every corner of our industry.”

The racism in the yield curve: Groundbreaking research from Destin Jenkins, an assistant history professor at Stanford University, reveals how the $4 trillion municipal bond market has historically excluded Black taxpayers and disproportionately benefited infrastructure projects in white communities. (Jenkins’s research focuses on the American state, racial capitalism, and the built environment; you can watch him explain his research in a recent fireside chat with bond professionals here.)

Tesla is recalling 2.19 million vehicles because of a problem with a font. If you don’t think design matters at this point, you can’t be helped.

There’s a lot of plastic hidden in our clothes. Like, a lot.

Singapore is set to require all flights departing the country to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2026.

What’s in a label? Well, the truth, mostly. Lawsuits filed against  Gorton’sALDIConagraBumble Bee Foods, Mowi, and Red Lobster are challenging Big Fish to back up the sustainability and eco-friendly labels they put on their seafood products and brands. “From what I see, there’s a good chance at least some of the companies defending themselves are engaging in false advertising, although they may not realize what they’re doing,” says Arlin Wasserman, the founder of sustainability consultancy Changing Tastes.

Nex Benedict, a transgender teen from Oklahoma, died the day after their peers assaulted them in a school bathroom. They had been bullied for ages, but the assaults began in earnest a few months after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill in 2022 that required public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates. This piece from the Independent provides essential context for the assault and details of Benedict’s life.

Chatbot versions of Adolph Hitler, Donald Trump, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski are among 100 chatbot “characters” on the busy far-right social network Gab. Most of the characters are playing to type, spewing conspiracies about COVID-19, vaccines, U.S. elections, climate change, Holocaust denial, and more. It goes downhill from there.

“People came here or already lived here, young people with lots of energy and ideas and ideals who wanted to start things,” observes Syd Staiti, Executive Director of Small Press Traffic, a Bay Area poetry organization and archive. They're turning 50 this year—and they're not alone! Bravo to all the hard-working artists and arts organizations on this list—and here's to the next 50.

Self-disruption allows companies to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating and responding to changing market dynamics rather than reacting defensively; it fosters a culture of innovation, encouraging employees to think creatively and take calculated risks; and it can even open new revenue streams and markets, ensuring long-term sustainability. Sam Aquillano, the former Executive Director of the Design Museum in Boston, explains it all.

In New Jersey, the ballot is structured in a way that favors endorsed candidates. Three candidates are making a persuasive case on why this might be a critical design problem.

TikTok has become a target of parents, policymakers and regulators who are concerned about the company’s data-collection practices and the platform’s effect on young people’s mental health—including whether there is a risk for addictive design.

Australia's first moon rover rover will collect samples of lunar soil known as regolith, from which NASA will attempt to extract oxygen — a key step toward establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon and producing rocket fuel to support future missions to Mars. And they need design help.

Thai graphic designer Chalermpol Jittagasem has created a new typeface family to help immigrants improve their English pronunciations. “I've seen so many Asian Americans subjected to truly cruel shaming for speaking English with a strong accent and incorrect pronunciation, even though they, like me, are living in the most diverse state in the US,” he says. 

Design Justice AI was announced in 2023; the Global Humanities Institute is sponsored by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes and the Mellon Foundation and is a partnership of four university-based centers at Rutgers, University of Pretoria, Australia National University, and University of Connecticut. Things are gearing up for a summer meeting in Pretoria; bookmark and follow along. 



Jobs | February 29