Design for Democracy

Sam Holleran
Designing the “Real Deal”
Is there room for capital-D design in a political landscape that equates its absence with authenticity? We examine the political design landscape two years after the red MAGA cap.


James Cartwright + Lilly Smith
Flipping the Script
How two progressive organizations, Tactical 2017 and Flippable, use open-source data and strategic voting, and why that might dictate the future of our elections.


Lilly Smith
Artifact: 2000 Palm Beach County Ballot
This article is the first in a new and ongoing Design Observer series, Artifact, which takes one piece out of AIGA’s Design Archives and asks a design expert in the topic being observed to reflect on its current impact in the present. This week: Marcia Lausen looks at the 2000 Palm Beach County Ballot.


Laetitia Wolff
Design for Democracy: Building Community Power
Design articulates choice at a time when there are seemingly no choices or only binary choices.


Lilly Smith
Double or Nothing: Can designers erase the gender pay gap?
On Equal Pay Day, Heather Stern, Emily Oberman, and Laura Kunkel, leaders of the new AIGA Women Lead campaign Double or Nothing, talk about what they’re doing to make the gender pay gap a thing of the past.


James Cartwright
Can Demagogues be Designed out of Democracy?
Dutch transition designer Rudy van Belkom and Irish digital design agency FrontEnd are leading the charge to combat democratic dissatisfaction. Is it a pipe dream, or can we design a different way?



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