The Observatory

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 97: Candidates and “Creatives”
2020 presidential campaign logos, 50 Books | 50 Covers, the “creative” hustle, Ellsworth Kelly stamps, Olivia Colman in Flowers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 96: Wither the Magazine
Adam Moss, Tina Brown, and the future of print magazines; Rookie, Design Sponge, and the future of online magazines; Karen Green’s Frail Sister; Anni Albers at the Tate


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 95: Back to Basics
Distinctive brands choose minimalist logos, remembering David Pease, Nicholas Rougeux revives Byrne’s Euclid, The Favourite


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 94: Women of the Year
Elena Ferrante’s My Beautiful Friend on HBO, Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy, Esperanza Spalding, Tierra Whack, Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, Max Richter, Henry Cobb: Words and Works, Oddityviz, The True Size, Dunkin’, Stack, Pamela’s gluten-free graham crackers, Clausthaler Dry-Hopped Non Alcoholic Beer


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 93: I Spy, You Spy
Sergei Skripal, Jamal Khashoggi, Bellingcat, Malachy Brown, visual investigations, Pablo Ferro, Ricky Jay, William Goldman, Boy Erased, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Glenn Gould’s manuscript for the Goldberg variations


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 92: Polite Sociopaths
The Design of Business | The Business of Design conference, Apple CarPlay and talking cars, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Justin Timberlake, dogs watching TV, Visual Capitalist


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 91: Voter Experience
Voter suppression by Republicans, The McKinsey Design Index, Lovevery, Photogrammar


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 90: The Container for the Story
The Cleveland Justice Center and Season 3 of Serial, adaptive reuse, the Secret History of the Future, Articles of Interest, The Romanoffs


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 89: Headsets and Holograms
VR typography, Glenn Gould hologram tour, Paul Rand ephemera auction, Robert Venturi, Mark Lamster’s Philip Johnson biography, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colors


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 88: Anonymous™
Bob Woodward’s Fear, the Quiet Resistance, representing anonymity, Face Values at the London Design Biennale, QAnon infographics, Todd Alcott’s faux vintage book covers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 87: Mortadella and Mortality
Eataly World, HBO’s Succession, Betsy DeVos in McMansion Hell, Little Fires Everywhere, the Coltrane Circle


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 86: Home and Away
Wes Anderson in Italy; 3D printed Mars habitat competition; from Hilton to boutique hotels to Airbnb; designer baby names; the Vignelli townhouse


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 85: Midsummer Music
Musical theater, soundtracks, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata in D Minor, and more.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 84: The Politician’s Gaze
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a White House without culture, John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, early Ivan Chermayeff book covers


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 83: Post-Its and Blocks
Design Thinking Wars: Lee Vinsel vs. d.school; Alexandra Lange’s The Design of Childhood; The Incredibles 2; Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 82: Constitutional Sans
The president’s lawyer uses Comic Sans, speculative design, Let the Sun Shine In, crazy walls.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 81: American Royalty
Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle; Tom Wolfe as design writer, Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose; the scent of Play-Doh


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 80: Age and Authenticity
The Age of Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture, a Prince George parody account, American house numbers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 79: 1968 at 50
Nixon-Humphrey, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The White Album, Laugh-In, LSD… and the meaning of anniversaries


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 78: Delete Your Account
Deleting Facebook, AI and images, Tree Change Dolls, Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano, listing for 450 W. Grixdale


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 77: Cape to California
Cape Town’s water crisis, Los Angeles’ first chief design officer, Lubalin 100, Walter Dorwin Teague’s Design This Day


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 76: Taking License
A proposal to license designers, Black Panther, Legally Black movie posters, NASA’s Pluto site


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 75: Dressed and Obsessed
Phantom Thread, John Perry Barlow, Cleveland Indians to retire Chief Wahoo, Obama portraits, riotous schnauzers


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 74: Eyes and Hands
Cræft by Alexander Langlands, doctors and design, Sean Tejaratchi’s LiarTown, a pair of iRi NYC sneakers


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 73: Fire, Fury, Playtime
Eva Hagberg Fisher on dressing for sexual harassment proceedings, Oprah at the Golden Globes, Print goes digital, Fire and Fury pop-up book, Jacques Tati’s PlayTime


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 72: Out With the Old
New York Times Magazine, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, favorite podcasts, Wormwood, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 71: A 40,000-point 9
Ivan Chermayeff and American modernism, Kurt Andersen, Vincent Scully, Ivo van Hove’s The Fountainhead, Brothers in Arms


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 70: When Art Imitates Life
Monstrous men, magazine covers and editors, Arranged!, Prongles


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 69: Fixes and Facelifts
Fixing American democracy, Snøhetta’s plan for Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building, Internetting With Amanda Hess, Synoptical History of the Civil War


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 68: Learning from Muriel Cooper
Muriel Cooper, Now You See It, Harvey Weinstein and #metoo, kilonova explosion, Lin-Manuel Miranda interviews Stephen Sondheim


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 67: Guns N’ Tote Bags
Visualizing gun violence after Las Vegas, Louis Vuitton v. My Other Bag, tote bags, Helen Rosner on Olive Garden, Call My Agent!, Netflix in French


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 66: Ethics!
The Copenhagen Letter, Mike Monteiro’s Design the Right Thing, Branded by Memory, Google Quick, Draw!, Otl Aicher’s Isny, the Trash Isles.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 65: Cones of Uncertainty
Visualizing hurricanes, elections, and other future events; the Jefferson Davis Highway; Margaret Calvert and British road signs; Alexander Todorov’s Face Value


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 64: The Eye and the Storm
Hurricane Harvey, weather data visualization, electric cars, Taylor Swift, Scarfolk Council, the internet as an Uncanny Valley


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 63: August Recess
The Doomsday Clock, the color blue, selfie sticks, graphic designers on screen


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 62: Keepin’ It Nasty
Cursing, Anthony Scaramucci, the alt-right’s shit aesthetic, Tony Fadell and Silicon Valley regrets, John G. Morris, Donald Trump draws the Manhattan skyline


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 61: Font of Corruption?
Pakistan, Donald Trump Jr., default fonts; Calibri, Courier, Hobo, Cooper Black; Silicon Valley corporate headquarters; subway signage mystery; The Turnaround; Steven Colbert’s Figure-It-Out-a-Tron


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 60: Everyman and Ariane
The new Ken dolls, Tonl and diversity in stock photography, Zillow threatens McMansion Hell, InspiroBot


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 59: Signatures and Circles
Egregious email signatures, circular Twitter avatars, Wonder Woman, Demetri Martin’s Dean


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 58: The Family Circus
Green lights for the Paris Climate Accord, NY Times Magazine comics issue, Lynda Barry in Family Circus, knitting as spycraft, Jim Russek’s poster for Our Town


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 57: Communion and Commerce
A record-breaking Basquiat; design, life coaching, and therapy; Thomas de Monchaux reviews Wendy Lesser’s biography of Louis Kahn; a neural network names paint colors


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 56: All the Presidents’ Libraries
Presidential libraries, Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles for Good Design 2017 Tech Industry Edition, Ai Weiwei, I.M. Pei


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 55: Sea and Sky
Earth Day, the March for Science, EPA Graphic Standards Manual, Design and Exclusion, Big Little Lies, Five Came Back


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 54: Egos, Eggs, and Half an Onion
Twitter’s default avatar, border wall submissions, Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, School for Justice, the Uline catalog


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 53: On Writing Well
#trypod, Dan Brown cover contest, Design in Tech, writing for designers, The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 52: Dictator Style
Peter York on autocrat chic, Sunday in the Park with George, BBC interview with Robert Kelly, Jessica Dimmock’s The Convention


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 51: Vintages
Behance Design Trends of 2017, George Nelson’s How to See, Michael K. Williams, W.E.B. Du Bois’ infographics


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 50: What Democracy Looks Like
The Women’s March, Parker Palmer, The Young Pope, Oreos, Girl Scout Cookies


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 49: My First Tattoo
Tattoos, Type 1 diabetes, ID cards, taking MBA students to the art gallery, Kerry James Marshall, Mark Rothko, Mike Mills, the 2017 Citizen Designer Pledge


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 48: Lella and La La
Lella Vignelli, John Berger, Second Avenue Subway, Jackie, La La Land


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 47: True Colors
Pantone’s color of the year, Time’s Person of the Year, Arrival, The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog, Seinfeldia


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 46: TV Party
TV party: Search Party, The Crown, Fleabag, Crisis in Six Scenes, Highston, I Love Dick, Daniella Zalcman, the fallout shelter sign


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Episode 45: I’m With(out) Her
Election night, Brand Trump and the presidency, Design That Matters, Facebook’s flawed news feed


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 44: In Dreams
Marcin Wichary visits the Technology Museum of Emporda, Vine, Grand Central Station vistas, deluxe composition notebooks, Errol Morris on Elsa Dorfman, bad ballot design, Grilli Type’s GT America, Transparent, Elaine Lustig Cohen.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 43: The End Is Near
Campaign fatigue, advertising and viral video, voting technology, intellectualism in the design community, the art of David Pease, the 1986 Mets


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Doors and Perception
Bathroom signs, MBA students, Mozilla and open logo design, The Commissar Vanishes, Masters of Sex


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Memory Loss
The Napalm Girl photo on Facebook, 9/11 out of context, Apple stores and the iPhone 7 launch, the Doctor Strangelove trailer, Wiener-Dog, Pantsuit


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Food for Thought
Samsung v. Apple, the International Style v. capitalism, Sausage Party, mozzarella sticks


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Passing the Torch
Olympics, cursive handwriting, NASA’s secret art studio, gun sales on Facebook, #firstsevenjobs


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Rough Sketches
Trump-Pence, Clinton-Kaine, Black Lives Matter, The Four Seasons, mapping the brain, the video essay


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Border Control
Brexit, borders, naming, Fiorello La Guardia and his airport, robot dogs, though leadership, Snapfax


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
A Seat at the Table
The President needs a Cabinet-level Secretary of Design — or a design consigliere


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Mind-Body Problems
Nutrition Facts, Mark Bittman’s food rating system, colon cancer screening, Time Well Spent, Peter Arno, Flat File


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Good, the Flat, and the Ugly
Instagram, rainbows, digital brutalism, Design: The Invention of Desire, the Freewrite.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Prisons and Paradise
Solitary confinement, virtual reality, design thinking for prisoners, Drew Hodges’s Broadway, The Paradise, Prince’s unpronounceable glyph


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
High Maintenance
Innovators and maintainers, Bernie and Hillary, mapping and infrastructure, algorithms and Rembrandt


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Shapes and Japes
Corporate design humor from Mic Drop to bland.ly, photoviz, remembering Zaha Hadid


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Crowd Control
Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Logosphere
The Met and the logosphere, designing with scientists, the Clinton-Sanders graphics race


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Magic on the Page
Matthias Buchinger, Beyonce, Mohawk Superfine at 70, Umberto Eco



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Guys and Dolls
Barbie and Rey, food and design, 30 years after the Challenger disaster



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Working-Class Heroes
British art schools, Bowie, Alan Rickman, the State of the Union, cannabis chocolate


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
State of the Chart
Data visualization, The Big Short



Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Hello
Michael finally gets an iPhone, the Pirelli calendar, Amy Schumer, design and TV 



Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
Brute Force
Behind the Bataclan, pigeon pathologists, Design Thinking at IBM, the Coke bottle at 100, Michael Gross



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Magnitude
Climate change, Drake’s take on James Turrell, an IKEA horror catalog


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Opposite of Ugly
Michael Bierut’s monograph, the lost art of album art, ugliness


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Basic Human Needs
IKEA and Facebook efforts for refugees, e-reading, Adrian Frutiger, Phil Patton



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Moving Pictures
Aylan Kurdi, photojournalism, airline posters, early television


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
September Issues
Google’s new logo, design thinking, and lessons from Oliver Sacks



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Over the Rainbow
Rainbows, selfie sticks, and the flag of New Zealand


Jessica Helfand + Andrew Howard
New Horizons
Pluto is at the outer limits of the solar system. Porto is at the end of Europe.


Jessica Helfand + Willy Wong
Places and Faces
Art, nostalgia, and community


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
M Is for a Million Things
Milan, Mario Batali, Michelle Obama, Moshe Safdie, Modernism, MOO (our sponsor), Michael Erard, metaphor design, Macintosh icons, Massimo Vignelli....


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Knockout
Are boxing and photography hipster pleasures? Are they past their prime, or do they have a bright future?


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
150 Years, 7 Minutes, 6 Seconds
Visualizing business data, a logo to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and more.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
East Meets West
Or collaboration vs. “one person making one thing at one time”


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Inside the Lines
Michael and Jessica discuss the The Grid, which uses artificial intelligence to design websites, the history of grids, and the unlikely success of coloring books for adults.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: The Inevitable
On this episode, Michael and Jessica talk about death (not taxes): how designers have to think about preventing death and representing death, and whether death is “just another design challenge.” Also, the color blue.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Land, Rand, Mad Men
Michael and Jessica talk about a panel they participated in at the Paul Rand exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, plus the return of Mad Men and the fate of photography giants Kodak and Polaroid.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Such Watch
On this episode of The Observatory, Michael and Jessica talk about Jonathan Ive, the rollout of the Apple Watch, and Michael Graves


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: FYI We Are Graphic Designers
This week, Michael and Jessica talk about graphic designers on screen, highlights from What Design Sounds Like, and Michael’s trip to Design Indaba.


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Words, Pictures, Sounds
A few things on our minds


Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Our Favorite Things
On this episode, Jessica Helfand talks about her Paris 140 series, and Michael Bierut describes his 100 Day Project + some of the cultural highlights of the year.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Dollars and Change
On this episode of The Observatory, Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand discuss the midterm election and currency design.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
The Observatory: Epidemics and Theater
On this episode of The Observatory, Jessica and Michael talk about design, performance, and fear of Ebola. 


The Editors
Announcing The Observatory
A new monthly podcast with Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand



Observed | February 21

Science answers the age old question: Why does a grape turns into a fireball in a microwave? [BV]


Observed | February 20

The Sunset Strip occupies a short stretch of Sunset Boulevard, but its reputation as a stomping ground of gangsters, glamour girls, rock stars and hell-raisers has held an oversized fascination for decades. Curbed LA dives deep. Part One. Part Two. [BV]

Should historic logos be protected in the same way as historic buildings? (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | February 19

My new favourite part of Twitter is Josh Lipnik’s tours of the modern architecture of the US midwest. Here he looks at the modern architecture of Columbus, Ohio—houses, schools, churches, banks, and even a cool Space Age horse racing track. [MB]

The authoritative, totally not subjective, incontrovertibly definitive and 100% correct L.A. Times Fast Food French Fry Rankings. [BV]


Observed | February 14

Welcome to 2019. If you value your privacy, don’t get your Valentine an internet-connected sex toy. [BV]


Observed | February 13

Places Journal’s ongoing series “Future Archive” republishes significant 20th-century texts introduced by a prominent scholar. This installment features J.B. Jackson’s 1976 essay on the American garage from Landscape. [BV]

Can multigenerational home-sharing solve LA’s affordability crisis? Alissa Walker explores what it might mean to age in place in LA. [BV]


Observed | February 12

Cubicles are back, and we have open plan offices to thank. [BV]

As emoji become more detailed in their design, they become less useful for communication. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | February 11

#Longread: The Five Families of Feces—the porta-potty business is as dirty as you’d think. [BV]

The world’s watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail by Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs. [BV]

Photography writes with light, but not everything wants to be seen. [JH]


Observed | February 07

Are we heading towards extreme overpopulation or a decline in humans? Questioning the UN population model. [BV]


Observed | February 06

What if everything you knew about the history of pizza in America was false? [BV]

A special class of vivid, textural words defy linguistic theory: could ‘ideophones’ unlock the secrets of humans’ first utterances? [BV]

Social media has spawned a generation of un-Strunk-and-White-ified people who appear to believe that punctuation is optional, that grammar is for the elderly, and that ending a sentence with a period is a deliberate act of aggression. The guardian of grammar, Benjamin Dreyer, wants that to change. [BV]


Observed | February 05

Innovative interaction design helps Chinese families stay emotionally connected through the Chinese New Year while being geographically scattered. [BV]


Observed | February 04

Was architecture better under socialism? [BV]

Ganbreeder is an experiment using breeding and sharing to explore complex visual spaces. Or, Ganbreeder is a crazy app where you can merge things like a parakeet with a bubble. 17024009+ images and counting. [BV]


Observed | January 31

Saturday Night Live’s cue cards are still created by hand. And they pay attention to whitespace to make sure the cards are readable from a distance! [BV]

In 2014, microbiologists began a 500-year-long science experiment assuming that science—or some version of it—will still exist in 2514. [BV]


Observed | January 30

The World’s Writing Systems allows you to interact with the 292 currently-known writing systems as they are encoded in the Unicode standard. [BV]

A growing crowd-sourced gallery of crazy mass transit fabric patterns. [BV]


Observed | January 29

For six amazing years—from 2006 to 2012—I led the design advisory group on the Citizen‘s Stamp Advisory Committee, with a terrific group of people from all across the country. What a delight to talk about it! [JH]

The 52-year history of the Yale Building project: pushing architecture students out of their studios and into communities they can positively affect. (Support The Yale Herald‘s Kickstarter!) [BV]

Emily Gosling on the magical, imperfect grids of Anni Albers. [MB]


Observed | January 28

The Letterform Archive opened it’s doors in 2015. In 2019 they are opening their virtual doors to a curated collection of over 50,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design, spanning thousands of years of history. [BV]

How does one judge the historic 50 Books | 50 Covers competition? Our jury chair, and Design Observer co-founder, Jessica Helfand talks to The Monocle Weekly. [BV]


Observed | January 24

A talk with Olivier Kugler about his most recent book, “Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters With Syrian Refugees”: a first hand record of the tragic souls who have been forced to leave their homeland and the disappointments, frustrations, and deprivations they’ve experienced as they attempt to make new lives. [BV]



Jobs | February 22