Books



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 | July 23

Lisa Sanders has done something extraordinary: in a world spinning out of control, this is what humanism looks like. [JH]


Observed | July 19

Today’s New York Times feature on the fire at Notre Dame has superb photography & dazzling interactive animations, but nothing is more mesmerizing than these sketches made at the scene by French firefighter Laurent Clerjeau. A landmark piece of visual journalism. [MB]

Everyone at this new advertising agency has served time in prison. [BV]


Observed | July 18

From ancient art to modern manuscripts, Harvard digital collections provides free, public access to over 6 million objects. #Explore! [BV]


Observed | July 17

Can a typeface embraces uncertainty and celebrates differences? Ambiguity is up to the challenge. [BV]


Observed | July 16

New out today from Shutterstock: Elements video effects. And some pretty fun behind the scenes footage. [BV]

Get Up, Stand Up Now is a major new exhibition at Somerset House celebrating the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond. The exhibition explores migration, psychological and social borders, the body and participation, power and resistance. [LY]


Observed | July 15

Congratulations! Acclaimed Dutch typographer Wim Crouwel has just received the 32nd TDC Medal from the Type Directors Club. [BV]


Observed | July 12

Ikea claims to have created the World’s Comfiest Font, Soffa Sans, where each letter is formed by pieces from a sofa! Free download here. [LY]

Can you imagine the cereal isle? Kellogg’s has temporarily made the packaging for its most popular cereal varieties black and white in a new partnership with Crayola. [BV]

Not over the hill: Design With Nature, Ian McHarg’s landmark book of ecological design turns 50. [LY]


Observed | July 11

Congratulations to Collins, Ad Age‘s first design agency of the year! [BV]

Our privacy crisis is a crisis of design. [JH]


Observed | July 09

A wonderful deep dive online Bauhaus exhibition from Getty Research Institute. [BV]

Featuring upside-down pages, illegible interviews, and appearances from Sonic Youth, Björk, and David Bowie, Ray Gun, 90s America’s bible of music and style, shook up US publishing in the ‘90s. [BV]


Observed | July 08

Pioneering video artist Gretchen Bender predicted our obsession with screens. [BV]


Observed | July 02

“Not having anything to do sounds terrible. I fear that more than anything else. It’s greater than the fear of death.” Anne Quito interviews Milton Glaser on his 90th birthday. [MB]

70% of graphic design students are women, yet only 11% are Creative Directors. Discuss. [JH]


Observed | July 01

What a better way to kick off July than with some new art? And what better place to get it than the 20x200 weeklong sitewide semi-annual sale? Starting tomorrow their vintage & space editions are on sale. [BV]

Congratulations to our co-founder, Jessica Helfand, and all the Fall 2019 Bogliasco Fellowship recipients! [BV]

What’s as satisfying as a good book? Seeing one made the old-fashioned way, by hand. [BV]


Observed | June 28

Matthew Carter will discuss his ambitious new Latin superfamily of serif, sans, slab, and rounded typefaces at the Katherine Small Gallery. [BV]


Observed | June 27

The enduring appeal of mustard yellow. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | June 26

Color theory explored by Peter Kraus in three jewels of book-making. [BV]


Observed | June 25

Jessica Helfand gave a poster design workshop to scientists at Yale a few years ago and was told by one that if he followed her advice, nobody would take him seriously as a scientist. Behold: the future! A graphic design revolution for scientific conference posters. [BV]

The new ghost museums of China. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | June 20

Poster House, the first museum in the US dedicated exclusively to posters, opens today! Listen here to their first audio newsletter and guide narrated by Steven Heller. [BV]


Observed | June 19

Remembering the Bantam paperback of The Greening of America with its truly relentless deployment of Bookman Swash Italic. Quintessential 70s. RIP Charles Reich, 1928-2019. [MB]

Here’s your chance to hear Debbie Millman on the other side of the mike. Recorded live on stage at the famous Design and Advertising festival in London in May, Debbie is interviewed on episode 14 of This Way Up. [BV]


Observed | June 17

The School of Visual Arts has donated nearly 100 of its beloved Subway Series posters from the past three decades to the brand new Poster Museum, opening Thursday, June 20. These, as well as all new posters created in the future, will live in the Museum’s permanent archival collection. [BV]



Jobs | July 23