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 | December 10

What a new retrospective reveals about Andy Warhol, and about our swerve away from humanism. [BV]

The 1st printing of the Bolted Book sold out so fast that it’s going into a second printing in January 2019. Sign up now to receive a free custom-designed book display stand. [BV]


Observed | December 07

The boozy and violent story behind America‘s Eggnog Riot. [BV]


Observed | December 06

#TBT: Vintage tech: the ballpoint pen. [BV]

#TBT: The beauty of a well-designed knob. [BV]


Observed | December 05

The competitive book sorters who spread knowledge around New York. [BV]

What do Dick Bruna’s covers have to do with Japanese matchboxes? This exhibition finally answers that question. [BV]


Observed | December 04

During World War I, in the ensnarled disputes about wartime deception and the equal rights of women, conspicuous “dazzle-painted” ships were condemned as “painted women.” Social Repercussions of World War I Ship Camouflage. [BV]

Rumsey Taylor, from the New York Times, on All of It from WNYC, about his story “The Mystery Font That Took Over New York.” Joined by Steven Heller about the history of storefront signs in NYC. (17.00 mins or thereabouts) [BV]


Observed | December 03

Mourned by many: Glamour magazine is gone. [BV]

The new font Berthe, from Abyme, is featured in the new online publication of Caractères ordinaires. [BV]


Observed | November 30

Beautifully-designed Bauhaus books and journals by Gropius, Klee, Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy and more, now available for free download. [MB]


Observed | November 29

We live at the end of an era characterized by relentless anxiety around the self as a product: what it means, who owns it, what it costs, what it’s worth. [BV]

Three innovations that started out as inclusive design solutions. [BV]


Observed | November 28

A new model for social design? The NYC Democratic Socialists of America offers an interesting example for systematizing volunteer political design work. [BV]


Observed | November 27

Likely the United States’ first woman employee, Mary Katharine Goddard signed the Declaration of Independence and was a key figure in promoting the ideas that fomented the Revolution. [BV]

Fighting an outlaw biker gang by...seizing the rights to its logo? [MB]


Observed | November 26

A working guide to the repair of rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code in our cities, our homes, and our social relations. [BV]

In this age of data and its manipulation, it’s important to remember algorithms are opinions, not truth machines, and demand the application of ethics. Don’t believe us? Watch this short animated video. [BV]


Observed | November 23

With 26 million TONS of plastic ending up in the ocean every year, we’re thankful for entrepreneurs like this who can turn a plastic bottle into a fashion statement. [BV]

Ever wondered where Hogwarts is located? Or the Castle of Aaagggghhhh? Check out Fake Britain: a map of fictional locations in England, Scotland and Wales. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | November 21

Glenn Gould’s heavily marked-up score for the Goldberg variations surfaces, letting us look inside his creative process. [BV]

A visual indulgence: Brassaï, the outsider who photographed Paris after dark. [BV]


Observed | November 20

Prolific title designer Pablo Ferro is recognized for introducing narrative and nonlinear dimensions to films spanning from Dr. Strangelove to Men in Black. Ferro passed on Saturday. His legacy lives on. [BV]

Because bullshit is almost everywhere, we assume we know how to recognize it and thus what it is. Subjectivity and its discontents. [BV]


Observed | November 19

Super recognizers: the people who never forget a face. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]

Amazon’s “stealth brands” are represented by $299 crowdsourced logos. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 15

Juan Ángel Cotta’s work, especially a collection of hardback books he illustrated in 1960, is one of the missing links between South American publishing and the European modernist traditions. —Steven Heller. [BV]

Need some inspiration? 25 reasons to keep on making stuff “in this time of rampant assholery.” [BV]


Observed | November 13

Are we confusing readability with literary value? The case for difficult books. [BV]



Jobs | December 11