Books

Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance

Emerson’s text is widely available to read online, but this new Volume edition—produced with Design Observer—elevates his wisdom through the printed word. With twelve essays from Jessica Helfand’s Self-Reliance Project: pledge now and order your copy today!




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!


The Design Observer Community Sessions

Observed | February 22

The story of Ford’s first African-American designer, McKinley Thompson, who sketched the original 1966 Bronco [BV]


Observed | February 19

Magazines and The American Experience, on view at the Grolier Club in New York. (View the exhibition online here.) [JH]

Bruce Blackburn, designer of the iconic NASA “worm” logo, dies at 82. [JH]


Observed | February 18

Everything you ever wanted to know about stamps, but were afraid to ask. [JH]

The extraordinary, long overlooked story of artist and sculptor, Selma Burke. [JH]


Observed | February 12

NYCxDesign’s inaugural breakout grant will provide a lifeline to three independent designers (or businesses) with a product or project that’s ready to go to market. Applications are due March 26. [JH]


Observed | February 11

For its inaugural year of 2020-2021, Caltech’s Critical Intersections: Conversations on Race, History, and Science online seminar series is dedicated to the history leading up to—and beyond—eugenics. For this week’s event, artists Edgar Arcenaux and Kurt Forman will create a printed artwork in conversation with the topic, which will be mailed to early registrants (who provide their mailing addresses) when registering. [JH]


Observed | February 10

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: our very own Jessica Helfand in the newest issue of Lovers Magazine. [BV]


Observed | February 09

Toying with design, in India (and online) [JH]


Observed | February 07

Our friends Wix launched a great new development tool: EditorX offers powerful collaboration, flexible grids and full breakpoint control. Watch a video of all the new functionality. (Thanks for the demo!) [BV]


Observed | February 04

Beautiful green helix or glass poop emoji covered in trees? You decide. [BV]


Observed | February 03

We seek beauty in nature, art, and philosophy but also in our phones and furniture. Now scientists search for the neural basis of how the brain responds to beauty. [BV]


Observed | February 02

Black Art Library is a resource of rare publications highlighting the work of Black artists. [BV]


Observed | February 01

John Maeda breaks up—then reconciles—with design. [JH]

The 1-year-old company Formr sells furniture made by formerly incarcerated people, using discarded materials from construction sites to help fix America’s massive waste problem. [BV]

“At worst, cover letters strain one’s faith that words convey meaning at all” [BV]


Observed | January 28

Designer Inga Plönnigs new font, Magnet, is the latest family from Frere-Jones Type, a sans-serif in thirteen styles. [JH]


Observed | January 26

What are dreams? Just the theater of the unconscious? Our brains’ attempts to impose a semblance of structure on the chaotic imagery we retain? Random epiphenomena? Responses to potential threats? [BV]


Observed | January 25

How an augmented reality app transformed London into an immersive art gallery. [BV]


Observed | January 22

Eye-watering amounts of money pour into Artificial Intelligence, and new technology empires are being forged before our eyes, but AI is a house divided by a decades-old rivalry. [BV]


Observed | January 19

“Our lives should be marked not by “comps” and metrics and filters and proofs of concept and virality but by tight circles and improvisation and adventure and lots and lots of creative waste. And not just to save ourselves, but to save each other.” [JH]


Observed | January 18

How architects write fictional architecture. [JH]

Beautiful weather rendering from Will MacNeil. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | January 14

A New European Bauhaus? [JH]


Observed | January 13

Though it was later determined to be troll-driven, design twitter went bananas this week over the new CIA rebrand. [JH]

Women either decide or strongly influence 70% of all automotive purchases yet are 73% more likely to suffer injury in a car crash, and 17% more likely to die than the average man. A design problem? [JH]


Observed | January 12

Joy, disillusion, success, failure, hiring, finances, office space—just some of the topics in All in a Day’s Work, a new animated series about being an entrepreneur from our friends at Mailchimp in collaboration with It’s Nice That. [BV]


Observed | January 11

When Pac-Man arrived in 1980, it revolutionized gaming. The original game is at the root of a rich design tradition, one that goes well beyond detailed graphics and fluid controls. [BV]

Can the story of a pandemic be told in a single headline every day? David Rainbird collected headlines about the pandemic as a way of making sense of the infodemic that was 2020. [BV]


Observed | January 05

Paul Klee’s notebooks—nearly 4,000 pages of them—are now online. [JH]



Jobs | February 27