Science

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? Once the allegedly chilling skull and crossbones is marketed as a decorative pattern
on a silk bowtie, its credibility as an mark of peril seems, well, somewhat questionable, begging the question: have we become so bored by life that we've inadvertently become inured to death?



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




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 | 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]


Observed | December 04

How do you bring an 18th-century Agateware teapot to life? Crafting it calls for an intricate process of moulding and layering clay materials, to mimic the agate stone. [BV]

Check out French artist
Paul Sougy’s stunning mid-century scientific illustrations of plants, animals, and the human body. [BV]


Observed | November 29

London-based studio Dorothy has developed a map of the United Kingdom using the titles of more than 1,400 pop songs. #CartographyRules [BV]


Observed | November 21

The icons of our popular culture depicted as ancient ruins. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 14

“Other bad films fascinate because they define an area of heroic obsession, horrifically misapplied. The heroism and the misapplication are inseparable. Anyone can commit himself body and soul to a clearly formulated project of obvious importance or quality, but to throw your last dollar, your last scrap of energy, into something ill-conceived and absurd from the beginning: That takes a human being.” Phil Christman on the reasons we watch bad movies. [BV]

Congratulations to Côte d’Ivoire-based artist Joana Choumali on being the first photographer from the African continent to be awarded one of the world’s most prestigious photography prizes, the Prix Pictet. [BV]


Observed | November 13

We are very excited for the next chapter of The Great Discontent and send all our congratulations to Hugh Weber and the TGD community: we look forward to new stories and new journeys. [BV]


Observed | November 12

Gorgeous redesign of The Atlantic by Peter Mendelsund and Oliver Munday. [MB]


Observed | November 11

Out TODAY, Jessica Helfand’s FACE: A VISUAL ODYSSEY from MIT Press. From Chuck Close, it’s “Everything you ever wanted to know about the face, plus lots you never knew you would want to know—and a few things you wish you didn’t. A must-read as well as a treasury of images.” [BV]



Jobs | January 27