The Observatory

Gail Bichler + Jessica Helfand
Episode 134: Fast and Furious
With Gail Bichler: Remote creative direction for the New York Times Magazine, editorial design fine art, and motherhood; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Fast and the Furious, Yale Mental Health Symposium


Allison Arieff + Jessica Helfand
Episode 133: Urban Reckoning
With Allison Arieff: The Magic of Empty Spaces, cities during COVID-19, Solving All The Wrong Problems, harvesting honey, The Good Fight


Jessica Helfand + Lee Moreau
Episode 132: Back to School?
With Lee Moreau: How to teach during the pandemic, robust design, jigsaw puzzles, The New York Times Spelling Bee


Jessica Helfand + Hrishikesh Hirway
Episode 131: Word by Word
With Hrishikesh Hirway: games and puzzles, The West Wing Weekly, soap operas, Home Cooking


Jessica Helfand + Bobby C. Martin, Jr.
Episode 130: Tackling History
With Bobby C. Martin, Jr.: rebranding Champions Design; football in Washington; demands for change at design schools; cooking during quarantine.


Jessica Helfand
Episode 129: Spatial Justice
A conversation with De Nichols about cities, monuments, and designing for community.


Jessica Helfand
Episode 128: Decoding Luxury
Guest host Avery Trufelman talks about Articles of Interest, clothing, luxury; Larry Rosenberg’s Breath by Breath; Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 127: Fear and Longing
Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters; Hrishi Hirway and Mike Errico; The Quiz Broadcast; Shakespeare and Co. Project


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 126: Screens and Dreams
Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration; Unorthodox; My Brilliant Friend; The Affair; Anil Dash on the dangers of social media; Anna Wiener on Silicon Valley; quarantine dreams


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 125: Zoom Aesthetics
Zoom aesthetics and COVID-19; Kyle Chayka on minimalism; Deborah Berke on shared spaces; Jessica Salfia’s poem “The First Lines of Emails I’ve Received While Quarantining”; Megan O’Grady on artistic recluses


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 124: That Thing You Do
Making art and design during the COVID-19 pandemic; Christoph Niemann and Daniella Zalcman; Adam Schlesinger; spec scripts for Larry David


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 123: Closing Doors, Opening Doors
Looking at COVID=19: Flattening the curve, Washington Post designers Harry Stevens on visualizing social distancing, Alissa Walker on how dots are people, Stephen Sondheim at 90


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 122: At Arm’s Length
COVID-19, social distancing, Luō Dàwèi’s One Thousand Families project, hiring product designers, Eric Rosenberg’s prop designs for The Plot Against America, Joanne McNeil’s Lurking


Jessica Helfand + Alissa Walker
Episode 121: Love and Squalor
With guest host Alissa Walker of L.A. Podcast: Barbara Kruger at Frieze Week; Destination Crenshaw; homelessness; urban design competitions, Rose Lyster on air travel; Molly Young on garbage language


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 120: Federal Style
The Trump Administration’s draft executive order Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again, the rise of the blur, a CBS brand book at the California Antiquarian Fair, Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
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


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 118: Excelsior!
Andrew Cuomo’s old-school political graphics; ridiculous subway ads, real and fake; Vaughan Oliver, John Baldessari, Sonny Mehta


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 117: Truth and Yogurt
Christmas cards, the Charles and Ray Eames collection, Didones, the Chobani effect, Hong Kong protest art, a dog who plays Jenga, Uncut Gems.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 116: A Decade in Politics, A Year in Culture
101 political images of 2010s; plus Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror; Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me; Beck’s Hyperspace; Underworld’s Oblivion with Bells; The 1619 Project podcast; Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin?; Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story; Steve Bannon’s American Dharma; Fleabag Season 2; Chernobyl; Anni Venti in Italia at the Piazza Ducale in Genoa; Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum; Vecchio Amaro del Capo; BrewDog’s Nanny State; and Athletic nonalcoholic beer.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 115: Thick and Blunt
Donald Trump’s handwriting; Michael Bloomberg, design patron; Jessica Helfand’s Face: A Visual Odyssey; Victor Papanek’s Design for the Real World; Heather Dewey-Halborg’s DNA portraits; Bulgarian socialist graphics


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 114: Kids Today
Painting on photographs, artists v. designers, the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, Richard Hollis designs for the Whitechapel.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 113: Facing the Future
Kate Crawford | Trevor Paglen: Training Humans, Derren Brown, MoMA expands again, slime mold, Gordon Salchow


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 112: The Sweet Smell of Succession
Television: HBO’s Succession, The Deuce, The Politician, Face Values at Cooper Hewitt, Jessica Wynne photographs mathematician blackboards


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 111: The Great British Crit
The Great British Bake Off, how to crit, Wim Crouwel, Cokie Roberts


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 110: The Style of Elements
The Periodic Table of the Elements, The Death of Design Portfolios, the 1619 Project, CityLab Maps Matter


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 109: Public Legacy, Private Equity
Monotype acquired by private equity firm; Ebony archives and Johnson Publishing headquarters; Hal Prince; Ugly Gerry; Breezewood, PA


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 108: Covers
#bookcover2019 challenge, J.D. Salinger, The demise of MAD Magazine, Oskar Schlemmer’s The Triadic Ballet, Don Wall Visionary Cities


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 107: Scientific Advances
Science poster redesign, Eli Baden-Lasar’s portraits of his sperm-donor siblings, Jony Ive parodies, a ridiculous commercial


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 106: The Twenty
The large Democratic field and the first 2020 debate, Harriet Tubman on the $20, Peter Saville’s cover for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures,“ Edie McClurg.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 105: Malta, Marketing, Make-Believe
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Malta, The West Wing Weekly podcast, branded empathy, Chernobyl, Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 104: Fade to White
Facebook’s redesign, Morning Edition’s new theme, Cris Shapan, Stanley Kubrick at the London Design Museum.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 103: Cathedrals and Candidates
Notre Dame cathedral fire, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg design systems, Mina Markham and Pantsuit, unidentifiable objects, Wesley Morris on romantic comedies.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 102: The Long View
Black hole image, Dyson Airblade, Titus Kaphar, Liz Jackson, Comic Sans takeover


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 101: Going West
2019 AIGA design conference, creative partnerships, Full Frontal’s Brexit video, film noir YouTube comment thread


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 100: Loving Librarians
Ralph Nader v. graphic design, libraries and serendipity, Sally Potter’s The Party, the shape of silence


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 99: The Space Between
Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim, Kevin Roche and the Miller House, Josh Lipnik’s modern midwest tours, Ben Stiller plays Michael Cohen


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 98: Traffic
Adam Grant, email response times, Slack, John Ruskin, Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 Oscars speech, Diana Vreeland Memo Generator


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 97: Candidates and “Creatives”
2020 presidential campaign logos, 50 Books | 50 Covers, the “creative” hustle, Ellsworth Kelly stamps, Olivia Colman in Flowers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 96: Wither the Magazine
Adam Moss, Tina Brown, and the future of print magazines; Rookie, Design Sponge, and the future of online magazines; Karen Green’s Frail Sister; Anni Albers at the Tate


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 95: Back to Basics
Distinctive brands choose minimalist logos, remembering David Pease, Nicholas Rougeux revives Byrne’s Euclid, The Favourite


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 94: Women of the Year
Elena Ferrante’s My Beautiful Friend on HBO, Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy, Esperanza Spalding, Tierra Whack, Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, Max Richter, Henry Cobb: Words and Works, Oddityviz, The True Size, Dunkin’, Stack, Pamela’s gluten-free graham crackers, Clausthaler Dry-Hopped Non Alcoholic Beer


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 93: I Spy, You Spy
Sergei Skripal, Jamal Khashoggi, Bellingcat, Malachy Brown, visual investigations, Pablo Ferro, Ricky Jay, William Goldman, Boy Erased, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Glenn Gould’s manuscript for the Goldberg variations


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 92: Polite Sociopaths
The Design of Business | The Business of Design conference, Apple CarPlay and talking cars, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Justin Timberlake, dogs watching TV, Visual Capitalist


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 91: Voter Experience
Voter suppression by Republicans, The McKinsey Design Index, Lovevery, Photogrammar


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


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 89: Headsets and Holograms
VR typography, Glenn Gould hologram tour, Paul Rand ephemera auction, Robert Venturi, Mark Lamster’s Philip Johnson biography, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colors


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 88: Anonymous™
Bob Woodward’s Fear, the Quiet Resistance, representing anonymity, Face Values at the London Design Biennale, QAnon infographics, Todd Alcott’s faux vintage book covers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 87: Mortadella and Mortality
Eataly World, HBO’s Succession, Betsy DeVos in McMansion Hell, Little Fires Everywhere, the Coltrane Circle


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 86: Home and Away
Wes Anderson in Italy; 3D printed Mars habitat competition; from Hilton to boutique hotels to Airbnb; designer baby names; the Vignelli townhouse


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 85: Midsummer Music
Musical theater, soundtracks, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata in D Minor, and more.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 84: The Politician’s Gaze
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a White House without culture, John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, early Ivan Chermayeff book covers


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 83: Post-Its and Blocks
Design Thinking Wars: Lee Vinsel vs. d.school; Alexandra Lange’s The Design of Childhood; The Incredibles 2; Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 82: Constitutional Sans
The president’s lawyer uses Comic Sans, speculative design, Let the Sun Shine In, crazy walls.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 81: American Royalty
Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle; Tom Wolfe as design writer, Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose; the scent of Play-Doh


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 80: Age and Authenticity
The Age of Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture, a Prince George parody account, American house numbers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 79: 1968 at 50
Nixon-Humphrey, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The White Album, Laugh-In, LSD… and the meaning of anniversaries


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 78: Delete Your Account
Deleting Facebook, AI and images, Tree Change Dolls, Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano, listing for 450 W. Grixdale


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 77: Cape to California
Cape Town’s water crisis, Los Angeles’ first chief design officer, Lubalin 100, Walter Dorwin Teague’s Design This Day


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 76: Taking License
A proposal to license designers, Black Panther, Legally Black movie posters, NASA’s Pluto site


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 75: Dressed and Obsessed
Phantom Thread, John Perry Barlow, Cleveland Indians to retire Chief Wahoo, Obama portraits, riotous schnauzers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 74: Eyes and Hands
Cræft by Alexander Langlands, doctors and design, Sean Tejaratchi’s LiarTown, a pair of iRi NYC sneakers


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 73: Fire, Fury, Playtime
Eva Hagberg Fisher on dressing for sexual harassment proceedings, Oprah at the Golden Globes, Print goes digital, Fire and Fury pop-up book, Jacques Tati’s PlayTime


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 72: Out With the Old
New York Times Magazine, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, favorite podcasts, Wormwood, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 71: A 40,000-point 9
Ivan Chermayeff and American modernism, Kurt Andersen, Vincent Scully, Ivo van Hove’s The Fountainhead, Brothers in Arms


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 70: When Art Imitates Life
Monstrous men, magazine covers and editors, Arranged!, Prongles


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 69: Fixes and Facelifts
Fixing American democracy, Snøhetta’s plan for Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building, Internetting With Amanda Hess, Synoptical History of the Civil War


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 68: Learning from Muriel Cooper
Muriel Cooper, Now You See It, Harvey Weinstein and #metoo, kilonova explosion, Lin-Manuel Miranda interviews Stephen Sondheim


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 67: Guns N’ Tote Bags
Visualizing gun violence after Las Vegas, Louis Vuitton v. My Other Bag, tote bags, Helen Rosner on Olive Garden, Call My Agent!, Netflix in French


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 66: Ethics!
The Copenhagen Letter, Mike Monteiro’s Design the Right Thing, Branded by Memory, Google Quick, Draw!, Otl Aicher’s Isny, the Trash Isles.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 65: Cones of Uncertainty
Visualizing hurricanes, elections, and other future events; the Jefferson Davis Highway; Margaret Calvert and British road signs; Alexander Todorov’s Face Value


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 64: The Eye and the Storm
Hurricane Harvey, weather data visualization, electric cars, Taylor Swift, Scarfolk Council, the internet as an Uncanny Valley


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 63: August Recess
The Doomsday Clock, the color blue, selfie sticks, graphic designers on screen


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 62: Keepin’ It Nasty
Cursing, Anthony Scaramucci, the alt-right’s shit aesthetic, Tony Fadell and Silicon Valley regrets, John G. Morris, Donald Trump draws the Manhattan skyline


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 61: Font of Corruption?
Pakistan, Donald Trump Jr., default fonts; Calibri, Courier, Hobo, Cooper Black; Silicon Valley corporate headquarters; subway signage mystery; The Turnaround; Steven Colbert’s Figure-It-Out-a-Tron


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 60: Everyman and Ariane
The new Ken dolls, Tonl and diversity in stock photography, Zillow threatens McMansion Hell, InspiroBot


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 59: Signatures and Circles
Egregious email signatures, circular Twitter avatars, Wonder Woman, Demetri Martin’s Dean


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 58: The Family Circus
Green lights for the Paris Climate Accord, NY Times Magazine comics issue, Lynda Barry in Family Circus, knitting as spycraft, Jim Russek’s poster for Our Town


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 57: Communion and Commerce
A record-breaking Basquiat; design, life coaching, and therapy; Thomas de Monchaux reviews Wendy Lesser’s biography of Louis Kahn; a neural network names paint colors


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 56: All the Presidents’ Libraries
Presidential libraries, Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles for Good Design 2017 Tech Industry Edition, Ai Weiwei, I.M. Pei


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 55: Sea and Sky
Earth Day, the March for Science, EPA Graphic Standards Manual, Design and Exclusion, Big Little Lies, Five Came Back


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 54: Egos, Eggs, and Half an Onion
Twitter’s default avatar, border wall submissions, Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, School for Justice, the Uline catalog


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 53: On Writing Well
#trypod, Dan Brown cover contest, Design in Tech, writing for designers, The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 52: Dictator Style
Peter York on autocrat chic, Sunday in the Park with George, BBC interview with Robert Kelly, Jessica Dimmock’s The Convention


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 51: Vintages
Behance Design Trends of 2017, George Nelson’s How to See, Michael K. Williams, W.E.B. Du Bois’ infographics


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 50: What Democracy Looks Like
The Women’s March, Parker Palmer, The Young Pope, Oreos, Girl Scout Cookies


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 49: My First Tattoo
Tattoos, Type 1 diabetes, ID cards, taking MBA students to the art gallery, Kerry James Marshall, Mark Rothko, Mike Mills, the 2017 Citizen Designer Pledge


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 48: Lella and La La
Lella Vignelli, John Berger, Second Avenue Subway, Jackie, La La Land


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 47: True Colors
Pantone’s color of the year, Time’s Person of the Year, Arrival, The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog, Seinfeldia


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


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 45: I’m With(out) Her
Election night, Brand Trump and the presidency, Design That Matters, Facebook’s flawed news feed


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 44: In Dreams
Marcin Wichary visits the Technology Museum of Emporda, Vine, Grand Central Station vistas, deluxe composition notebooks, Errol Morris on Elsa Dorfman, bad ballot design, Grilli Type’s GT America, Transparent, Elaine Lustig Cohen.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 43: The End Is Near
Campaign fatigue, advertising and viral video, voting technology, intellectualism in the design community, the art of David Pease, the 1986 Mets


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Doors and Perception
Bathroom signs, MBA students, Mozilla and open logo design, The Commissar Vanishes, Masters of Sex


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Memory Loss
The Napalm Girl photo on Facebook, 9/11 out of context, Apple stores and the iPhone 7 launch, the Doctor Strangelove trailer, Wiener-Dog, Pantsuit


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Food for Thought
Samsung v. Apple, the International Style v. capitalism, Sausage Party, mozzarella sticks


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Passing the Torch
Olympics, cursive handwriting, NASA’s secret art studio, gun sales on Facebook, #firstsevenjobs


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Rough Sketches
Trump-Pence, Clinton-Kaine, Black Lives Matter, The Four Seasons, mapping the brain, the video essay


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Border Control
Brexit, borders, naming, Fiorello La Guardia and his airport, robot dogs, though leadership, Snapfax


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
A Seat at the Table
The President needs a Cabinet-level Secretary of Design — or a design consigliere


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Mind-Body Problems
Nutrition Facts, Mark Bittman’s food rating system, colon cancer screening, Time Well Spent, Peter Arno, Flat File


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Good, the Flat, and the Ugly
Instagram, rainbows, digital brutalism, Design: The Invention of Desire, the Freewrite.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Prisons and Paradise
Solitary confinement, virtual reality, design thinking for prisoners, Drew Hodges’s Broadway, The Paradise, Prince’s unpronounceable glyph


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
High Maintenance
Innovators and maintainers, Bernie and Hillary, mapping and infrastructure, algorithms and Rembrandt


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Shapes and Japes
Corporate design humor from Mic Drop to bland.ly, photoviz, remembering Zaha Hadid


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Crowd Control
Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Logosphere
The Met and the logosphere, designing with scientists, the Clinton-Sanders graphics race


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Magic on the Page
Matthias Buchinger, Beyonce, Mohawk Superfine at 70, Umberto Eco



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Guys and Dolls
Barbie and Rey, food and design, 30 years after the Challenger disaster



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Working-Class Heroes
British art schools, Bowie, Alan Rickman, the State of the Union, cannabis chocolate


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
State of the Chart
Data visualization, The Big Short



Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Hello
Michael finally gets an iPhone, the Pirelli calendar, Amy Schumer, design and TV 



Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Brute Force
Behind the Bataclan, pigeon pathologists, Design Thinking at IBM, the Coke bottle at 100, Michael Gross



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Magnitude
Climate change, Drake’s take on James Turrell, an IKEA horror catalog


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Opposite of Ugly
Michael Bierut’s monograph, the lost art of album art, ugliness


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Basic Human Needs
IKEA and Facebook efforts for refugees, e-reading, Adrian Frutiger, Phil Patton



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Moving Pictures
Aylan Kurdi, photojournalism, airline posters, early television


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
September Issues
Google’s new logo, design thinking, and lessons from Oliver Sacks



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Over the Rainbow
Rainbows, selfie sticks, and the flag of New Zealand


Jessica Helfand + Andrew Howard
New Horizons
Pluto is at the outer limits of the solar system. Porto is at the end of Europe.


Jessica Helfand + Willy Wong
Places and Faces
Art, nostalgia, and community


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
M Is for a Million Things
Milan, Mario Batali, Michelle Obama, Moshe Safdie, Modernism, MOO (our sponsor), Michael Erard, metaphor design, Macintosh icons, Massimo Vignelli....


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Knockout
Are boxing and photography hipster pleasures? Are they past their prime, or do they have a bright future?


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
150 Years, 7 Minutes, 6 Seconds
Visualizing business data, a logo to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and more.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
East Meets West
Or collaboration vs. “one person making one thing at one time”


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.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: The Inevitable
On this episode, Michael and Jessica talk about death (not taxes): how designers have to think about preventing death and representing death, and whether death is “just another design challenge.” Also, the color blue.


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.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Such Watch
On this episode of The Observatory, Michael and Jessica talk about Jonathan Ive, the rollout of the Apple Watch, and Michael Graves


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: FYI We Are Graphic Designers
This week, Michael and Jessica talk about graphic designers on screen, highlights from What Design Sounds Like, and Michael’s trip to Design Indaba.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Words, Pictures, Sounds
A few things on our minds


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Our Favorite Things
On this episode, Jessica Helfand talks about her Paris 140 series, and Michael Bierut describes his 100 Day Project + some of the cultural highlights of the year.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Dollars and Change
On this episode of The Observatory, Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand discuss the midterm election and currency design.


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
Announcing The Observatory
A new monthly podcast with Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand


The Design Observer Cooperative

Observed | September 28

How Biden prepares for the debate of his life: intense preparation, rehearsals, and briefing books—and “he’s a sans-serif man! Mr. Biden has long preferred the Arial typeface,” notes the New York Times, “14 point”. [JH]

“He wanted accurate science, and he wanted great design.” Pioneering science fiction designer Ron Cobb dies at 83. [JH]

Dozens of examples of lettering for jazz musicians, collected by Reagan Ray from album covers and posters. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | September 22

City Monitor is part of New Statesman Media Group’s innovative new data journalism division, which will provide essential business intelligence across topics such as energy, cities, banking, media, and technology, among others. Follow them here. [JH]

Nicolas Heller is helping save New York City, one Instagram post at a time. [BV]


Observed | September 21

Help support this monumental public messaging campaign promoting the patriotism of science, religion and voting from Class Action Collective. [BV]


Observed | September 17

The strange, uninspired history of Spotify’s bland logo. [BV]


Observed | September 16

Behold: Calamityware! (Via Kim Baer.) [JH]


Observed | September 01

Got a Very Serious Book to sell about the dangers of radical right-wing overreach? In book publishing, this is the summer of the Sith Lord design palette. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | August 20

Design criticism is everywhere. Why are we still looking for it? A must-read essay from Jarrett Fuller. [MB]

Goodbye mosh pits, hello “personal platforms.” A new music venue in the UK was designed for socially distant concerts. [BV]


Observed | August 18

Contactless filming: design for never leaving home. [JH]


Observed | August 17

No books were harmed in the testing of these animals. [JH]


Observed | August 14

How do activism slideshows go viral on Instagram? By co-opting popular design aesthetics from brands. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | August 13

Can you identify the city in which each picture was taken? A visual quiz. [JH]


Observed | August 06

On the power (and ephemerality) of street art. [JH]

The UX of LEGO interface panels. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | August 03

Antica is a new type family designed by Ale Paul & the Sudtipos team. [JH]


Observed | July 31

Branding a pandemic. (via Kim Baer.) [JH]


Observed | July 28

Why do these Apple ads, from a company that takes such pride in design, feature four people who are clearly not trained designers, designing? [BV]


Observed | July 27

Communicative efficiency is not the same as communicative empathy, and one of the truly gut-punching limits of social media is how poorly it corresponds to the individual experience of human grief. A primer by Jason Fields. [JH]


Observed | July 22

Futurefeed is an online space where writers, artists, and thinkers are invited to experiment + explore ideas that are important to them over an extended period of time. [JH]


Observed | July 21

Open a new window somewhere in the world. [BV]

The X-Prize Mask Challenge is looking for a face mask that is attractive, innovative, and achieves the filtration efficacy on par with a surgical mask. PS: You also have to be under 25 years old to enter. (Via Kim Baer.) [JH]


Observed | July 16

How Mexico City crowdsourced a map of its riotous informal bus system. [BV]

The atlas of surveillance. (Yes, you read that right.) [JH]


Observed | July 15

Social Matter, Social Design challenges the way we look at, think of, and interact with the social world by emphasizing the role of materiality. [JH]

When governors are graphic designers: a continuing story. [JH]


Observed | July 14

Design For America, the World Design Organization, and IBM team up to launch the COVID Design Challenge. [JH]

A national reckoning: why It is falling to individuals to become their own interim museums and archives. [JH]



Jobs | September 28