Science

Ellen McGirt
It’s Time to Find Your People
Announcing Equity Observer, Design Observer’s new editorial vertical and newsletter focused on the people and ideas redesigning the world for good.



Susan Magsamen, Ivy Ross
Your Brain on Art: Creating Community
An excerpt from the book Your Brain on Art by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross.


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


Jordan MacInnis
Materials as Metaphor
...We have a disrespect for materials; we use them quickly and carelessly. That is exactly where we’re at as a planet and as a society. It’s our job as material designers to tackle that.


Alan Rapp
Personal Space
Robert Sommer’s Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design was published in fifty years ago, and its compact title concept — an invisible but perceptible security zone surrounding an individual — caught on.


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


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


Steven Heller
Photographing Science
The role that image makers have in the fields of science and engineering is more vital, especially now.


Pamela Worth
Three Billboards Outside New Haven
Hope for the best. Vote for science.


Melissa Leone
Celestial Bodies
Man’s age-old fascination with the celestial has created countless beautiful—albeit not always accurate—diagrams of the universe.


Melissa Leone
Microbial Illustrations
Illustrated versions of the microscopic designs that make up our world.


Melissa Leone
British Mineralogy
Colored figures intended to elucidate the mineralogy of Great Britain


Steven Heller
The Ink Revolution of Jason S. Logan
Jason S. Logan is imagining a revolution for natural, place-based ink that is equivalent to what Alice Waters did for food.


Kathleen Meaney
Wing It: Testing Out Exhibit Design Using Virtual Reality
The field of environmental (or experiential) graphic design is young and on fire.


Michael Bierut
The Typeface of Truth
What are the implications when Errol Morris declares the typeface most likely to induce credulity is Baskerville?


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Mrs. E.N. Todter by Dion & Puett Studio
Art and the Ladies’ Field Club


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



Sara Jamshidi
The Tree
Three perspectives


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.



John Thackara
Food As A Commons
People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.



Observed
A Sculpture on the Moon
Slate has a fascinating article about artist Paul van Hoeydonck and his three-and-a-half inch scultpure, Fallen Astronaut that was (and still is) exhibited on the moon.


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.


John Thackara
Flyways
A meditation on the migratory patterns of birds and sheep.


Alexandra Lange
Rural Vacation | Urban Questions
Driving Vermont's rural routes I began to wonder: Why does this town get a brand-new energy-efficient supermarket, and that one a minimart-slash-video store-slash-bank?



Observed
Google on the Mountain
On Monday, March 18, Google released Street View images from four of the seven tallest mountains on earth.


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


Alexandra Lange
Someone Else’s Shangri La
An exhibition of Doris Duke's Honolulu mansion, Shangri La, proves a “Spanish-Moorish-Persian-Indian complex” works as theater.


Alexandra Lange
Hiking the Museum
Ennead Architects’ new Natural History Museum of Utah works to make natural history seem like the ongoing process of discovery that it is, layering geology and topography, paleontology and interactivity.


Constantin Boym
Extra National Journey
What happens when a Russian-born American professor takes a group of his Arab students to a workshop in Amsterdam to work with a designer who has a Canadian passport but lives in Berlin?


Alexandra Lange
Science Gets Around to Architecture
Why are we still privileging scientific studies over visual thinking?


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.



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.


John Thackara
Utopia is Here
Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years we are due to find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.


Josh Wallaert
Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names
No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.



Steven Heller
Souvenirs as Nazi Propaganda
Part three in a three part series on the design practices of the Third Reich.



Rob Walker
Global Entertainment
Entertainment via web-based geography.



Adam Harrison Levy
Sustainable Christmas Trees
From artificial firs to rented spruces, a report on alternatives to the chopped-down Xmas tree.



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.



William Underhill
Map Kibera
Report on the Map Kibera project to provide navigation and information on Nairobi's massive informal settlement.






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.



William Drenttel, and Jon Piasecki
The Stonework of Jon Piasecki
"Stone construction is one of the most enduring traces of human activity. Any effort to quarry, cut and stack it is one that requires a powerful incentive, extensive planning and specialized skill." The Stone River project of Jon Piasecki.



The Editors
And Speaking of Sustainability...
Proceedings of a 2003 seminar about Timeship, a visionary project designed by Stephen Valentine for storing the frozen remains of people awaiting reanimation.



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



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part II
Continuation of debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part I
Debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Mark Lamster
Triumph of the Will (Or, Everything Old Is New Again)
In the New Yorker this week, Jonah Lehrer writes about a psychological study suggesting that self control, or the ability to delay gratification, more strongly correlates with long-term success than intelligence.


Lorraine Wild
Will Burtin: Design and Science
Will Burtin’s story is presented in Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin. Like all of the emigré “pioneers,” Burtin brought an amazing amount of talent and energy (along with plain old ambition) to his modernist approach.



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.



Debbie Millman
Eric Kandel
Nobel prize winner Eric Kandel is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Columbia University.
 




Jessica Helfand
Science and Design: The Next Wave
Scientists probe and manipulate and channel and divide; they split and fuse and spike and engineer; but most of all, they look. As a designer, to spend any time with scientists is to become at once profoundly aware of our similarities and devastated by that which divides us.



Jessica Helfand
My Dirty Little Secret
Gardening is its own infuriating design challenge. You fret and you rethink and you second-guess yourself constantly, and then for one delirious, thrilling moment something blooms and you feel utterly triumphant. And then it dies and you are back where you started.



William Drenttel
International Polar Year
In what may turn out to be the biggest international scientific project to date, an army of thousands of scientists will spend the next two years studying the Arctic and Antarctic as part of the International Polar Year, which officially begins this week.


Jessica Helfand
Death 'N' Stuff
Smoking Kills: The label days it all. Or does it?



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.



William Drenttel
Weather Report: 53 Degrees F. Heavy Snowfall Predicted
The weather is fucked up. "Science is a way of making sense of the world. Design is a way of making the world make sense."



Jessica Helfand
Face Value
Facial transplants mapping our future: how much is the world of design responsible?



William Drenttel
Maps of Cyberspace
It is the internet that has changed our perception of space, precisely because the sheer volume of interconnectivity is beyond our imagination, whether it be language-based, data-based, or community-based. Add black holes and photographs of asteroidal moons around Jupiter, and our world seems increasingly expansive. Yet, if we cannot map it, how can we understand it?



Jessica Helfand
Greer Allen: In Memoriam
Designer, critic, pundit and historian, Greer Allen was Senior Critic in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. He designed publications for The Houghton Library at Harvard, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and a number of other distinguished cultural institutions around the country. Greer Allen died last week after a short illness. He was 83.



Rick Poynor
Eduardo Paolozzi, 20th Century Image-Maker
If a visual artist created more concentrated, exhilarating images of science, technology and the media realm during the mid-20th century than British artist Eduardo Paolozzi, then I would like to see them. Paolozzi, who died on 22 April aged 81, was first of all a sculptor, but the screenprints he produced in the 1960s rank as masterpieces of the medium.



The Editors
Understanding and Action



Jessica Helfand
Under The Microscope
It turns out that microscopy, like most things, has basically gone digital: no surprise there. But what did surprise me was the realization that scientific observation obliges its participants to engage in a kind of resistance to imagination.



William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician III




Jessica Helfand
Take Two Logos and Call Me in the Morning




Jessica Helfand
One Person, One Vote, One MRI?




Jessica Helfand
Annals of Typographic Oddity No. 2: Spaceship Gothic




William Drenttel
Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.



William Drenttel
Uut, Uup and Away
What happens when we discover new elements, especially ones on the outer fringes of the periodic table? Where did Uut and Uup come from?



Observed


In stripping objects of all but their essential elements, the Shakers not only exposed the elegance inherent in even the most humble of items but also reinvented the concept of beauty itself. With its emphasis on durability, functionality, and timeless minimalism, Shaker design has had a profound effect on generations of artists, architects, and designers. (“Do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live,” urged Shaker leader Ann Lee, “and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow. ) Now, they have their very own postage stamp.

At MIT on June 27—Designing With, Not For: a conversation between Richard Perez, founding director of the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking at the University of Cape Town; Amy Smith, founding director of the MIT D-Lab; Surbhi Agrawal, 2022 MAD Design Fellow, urban planner, and data scientist at Sasaki; and Aditya Mehrotra, instructor of Mobiles for Development at MIT. This event is part of this year's Design Research Society (DRS) conference, on the theme of recovery, reflection, and reimagination.

Multi-Species Worlding is an experiment, for no more than twenty people, into the felt perspective of another species, in which participants will practice speaking as that species, and build shared worlds that serve all of life.  This workshop brings together multi-species artists, architects, researchers, storytellers, communicators, educators, entrepreneurs, designers, and anyone curious about co-creating worlds where all species thrive. 

Coming this fall, join a pivotal gathering of minds from Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, UK, China, Kenya, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Finland, Hong Kong, and the United States for Designing Nature and Humanity-Centered Future,  at ISMAT Portimão (in Portugal's Algarve) from 8 to 11 of October. Interested? You have until the end of July to submit an abstract.

“Must be buff, charged with the emblem of the State, a pine tree proper, in the center, and the North Star, a mullet of 5 points, in blue in the upper corner; the star to be equidistant from the hoist and the upper border of the flag, the distance from the 2 borders to the center of the star being equal to about 1/4 of the hoist, this distance and the size of the star being proportionate to the size of the flag .”  The State of Maine is seeking design ideas before voters in November determine whether to adopt a new, more distinctive flag.

Picture this: A photographer wins an AI Image competition with a real photo. "I wanted to show that nature can still beat the machine and that there is still merit in real work from real creatives," said Digital Artist Miles Astray before he was disqualified. 

The American artist Kehinde Wiley—whose work he describes as “shedding light on the inequities Black and Brown people face in our society,”—has been accused of sexual misconduct. Wiley has denied the charges, but two museums have canceled upcoming exhibitions of his work.

In tandem with this exhibition (on view through the end of January 2025),  a new, five-episode podcast—hosted by British design critic and author Alice Rawsthorn—traces the evolution of Gae Aulenti through the voices of friends, curators, and a range of international architects.

The Los Angeles Design Festival is looking for new board members.

The Obama Foundation is looking for a new VP of Communications.

An Idaho pub owner celebrates “Homosexual Awesomeness Month” because “Pride is too extreme.”

SCOTUS gets it right on tribal health care:  In Becerra v. San Carlos Apache Tribe, the justices ruled that the federal government will have to pay more for health care on the reservations, making it a ruling on sovereignty

Something’s going on at Baraboo High School, y’all. Wisconsin? Thoughts?

Anne H. Berry, whose work focuses on representation and diversity in design as well as ethnic and racial disparities in the field, has been selected to be the next Director of the School of Design in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at UIC Chicago.

Read about the fifty people helping to shape Chicago. (Gensler's Andre Brumfield leads the charge!)

You need a Wall Street Journal digital subscription to view this in its entirety, but the story needs to be shared whether you read it or not: high-profile school shootings, and the fear they spread, are shaping how architects design the modern American school.

Anna Gerber and Anna Holsgrove's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is a new quarterly magazine focused on the relationship between technology and an unlikely trio of influences: ancient wisdom, spiritual practices, and natural intelligence. Their first issue is expected later this summer.

Grace Jun's new book on adaptive, wearable design—Fashion, Disability, and Co-design—is,  in her own words, “a practical book on the intricacies of design with examples of the many ways people can collaboratively work together”. Jun will be speaking on May 31st at Rizzoli Bookstore at 6pm in New York City.  (She was our guest on The Design of Business | The Business of Design back in season two.)

At the Business Design Centre in London, New Designers—now in its 39th year—brings together a whopping 3,000 design graduates every year from over 100 universities. The first week (26–29 June) highlights fashion and costume, contemporary design crafts, textiles, ceramics, glass, jewelry, and precious metalwork. The second week (3–6 July 2024) showcases furniture, product design, industrial design, spatial design, graphic design, illustration,  animation, motion art, digital art, and game design.

In a shocking announcement this morning, The University of the Arts in Philadelphia announces it will cease operations effective on June 7, 2024.

In partnership with the IKEA Foundation, What Design Can Do supports creative climate solutions aimed at fostering a more circular society. The winning projects in their latest challenge—Redesign Everything–include approaches such as bio-cement reef structures that mimic oyster reefs, bead alternatives designed to eliminate microplastics, and the use of agro-industrial fruit waste to create sustainable biomaterials.

Can you taste design? Designer, researcher, and author of Why Fonts Matter Sarah Hyndman has been conducting “typosensory research” experiments into how our senses “sway our perception.” 

A Banksy museum… with no Banksys?

Three Black men are suing American Airlines for racial discrimination, alleging all Black male passengers — none of whom were traveling together — were removed from their departing flight "because a white male flight attendant had complained about an unidentified passenger's body odor.” In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning Black travelers that the airline had a “corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.” The advisory was lifted in 2018.

How do you know it’s racist if you didn’t watch it? This was largely the response from the three judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, who appeared unmoved by the accusation of a white former manager that his employer, Honeywell International, had fired him for refusing to attend a brief training session on unconscious bias. “It would be very different if your client had watched it and came in and said, ‘I found it discriminatory for the following reasons,’” Circuit Judge Amy St. Eve said to plaintiff Charles Vavra’s lawyer. Vavra sued Honeywell in 2021.

The not-so-quiet panic from climate scientists.

Donald Trump has been framing Chinese immigrants as mostly “military-age” men, here to stir trouble from within. “And it sounds like to me, are they trying to build a little army in our country? Is that what they’re trying to do?” he said in a campaign stop last month. But one immigrant who traveled through Ecuador to the U.S. border told the AP that it’s not true. “It is impossible that they would walk on foot for over one month” to organize an attack, he said. “We came here to make money.” Another, who hopes to make enough to bring his wife and children, said, “This trip is deadly. People die. The trip isn’t suitable for women — it’s not suitable for anyone.” 

“You need to kick that f***ing door down!” Vice President Kamala Harris was the guest of honor at an AAPI Heritage Month event this week and encouraged attendees to break through the barriers they still face. “We have to know that sometimes, people will open the door for you and leave it open, sometimes they won't. And then you need to kick that f***ing door down," as the audience cheered. "Excuse my language," she laughed.

This is why we can’t have nice things. An art installation project called the Dublin Portal experience, a 24/7 live cam and screen offering a real-time link between Dublin and New York City, is being ruined by “a small minority of people” doing “inappropriate things.”

More than 100 high-profile French art world figures have signed an open letter supporting the Palais de Tokyo in Paris after longtime patron Sandra Hegedüs withdrew her funding, saying, “I don’t want to be associated with the new, very political direction at the Palais de Tokyo...dictated by the defence of wokeism, anti-capitalism, pro-Palestine, etc.’” At issue was the show Past Disquiet, which focuses on four “museums in exile” and is constructed as a touring exhibit. From the response to Hegedüs: “These words and these methods, using a popular tribunal on social networks… are dangerous for the art world, for artists and for the freedom of institutions, as well as for our democracy.”



Jobs | June 24