The Observatory

Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand discuss, design, current events, and current enthusiasms.

Subscribe to The Observatory on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, or follow Design Observer on Soundcloud.

Episode 135: Home for the Holidays
2020:dinner at home, Zoom fatigue, new rules of design, watching television


Episode 134: Fast and Furious
With Gail Bichler: Remote creative direction for the New York Times Magazine, editorial design fine art, and motherhood; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Fast and the Furious, Yale Mental Health Symposium


Episode 133: Urban Reckoning
With Allison Arieff: The Magic of Empty Spaces, cities during COVID-19, Solving All The Wrong Problems, harvesting honey, The Good Fight


Episode 132: Back to School?
With Lee Moreau: How to teach during the pandemic, robust design, jigsaw puzzles, The New York Times Spelling Bee


Episode 131: Word by Word
With Hrishikesh Hirway: games and puzzles, The West Wing Weekly, soap operas, Home Cooking


Episode 130: Tackling History
With Bobby C. Martin, Jr.: rebranding Champions Design; football in Washington; demands for change at design schools; cooking during quarantine.


Episode 129: Spatial Justice
A conversation with De Nichols about cities, monuments, and designing for community.


Episode 128: Decoding Luxury
Guest host Avery Trufelman talks about Articles of Interest, clothing, luxury; Larry Rosenberg’s Breath by Breath; Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu


Episode 127: Fear and Longing
Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters; Hrishi Hirway and Mike Errico; The Quiz Broadcast; Shakespeare and Co. Project


Episode 126: Screens and Dreams
Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration; Unorthodox; My Brilliant Friend; The Affair; Anil Dash on the dangers of social media; Anna Wiener on Silicon Valley; quarantine dreams


Episode 125: Zoom Aesthetics
Zoom aesthetics and COVID-19; Kyle Chayka on minimalism; Deborah Berke on shared spaces; Jessica Salfia’s poem “The First Lines of Emails I’ve Received While Quarantining”; Megan O’Grady on artistic recluses


Episode 124: That Thing You Do
Making art and design during the COVID-19 pandemic; Christoph Niemann and Daniella Zalcman; Adam Schlesinger; spec scripts for Larry David


Episode 123: Closing Doors, Opening Doors
Looking at COVID=19: Flattening the curve, Washington Post designers Harry Stevens on visualizing social distancing, Alissa Walker on how dots are people, Stephen Sondheim at 90


Episode 122: At Arm’s Length
COVID-19, social distancing, Luō Dàwèi’s One Thousand Families project, hiring product designers, Eric Rosenberg’s prop designs for The Plot Against America, Joanne McNeil’s Lurking


Episode 121: Love and Squalor
With guest host Alissa Walker of L.A. Podcast: Barbara Kruger at Frieze Week; Destination Crenshaw; homelessness; urban design competitions, Rose Lyster on air travel; Molly Young on garbage language


Episode 120: Federal Style
The Trump Administration’s draft executive order Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again, the rise of the blur, a CBS brand book at the California Antiquarian Fair, Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley


Episode 119: Soldiers and Generals
Kyle Chayka’s “The Longing for Less”; minimalism; Hugh Weber joins Design Observer; Don Norman on collaboration; Maggie Gram on design thinking; the death of Mr. Peanut; Fanchon & Marco


Episode 118: Excelsior!
Andrew Cuomo’s old-school political graphics; ridiculous subway ads, real and fake; Vaughan Oliver, John Baldessari, Sonny Mehta


Episode 117: Truth and Yogurt
Christmas cards, the Charles and Ray Eames collection, Didones, the Chobani effect, Hong Kong protest art, a dog who plays Jenga, Uncut Gems.


Episode 116: A Decade in Politics, A Year in Culture
101 political images of 2010s; plus Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror; Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me; Beck’s Hyperspace; Underworld’s Oblivion with Bells; The 1619 Project podcast; Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin?; Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story; Steve Bannon’s American Dharma; Fleabag Season 2; Chernobyl; Anni Venti in Italia at the Piazza Ducale in Genoa; Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum; Vecchio Amaro del Capo; BrewDog’s Nanny State; and Athletic nonalcoholic beer.


Episode 115: Thick and Blunt
Donald Trump’s handwriting; Michael Bloomberg, design patron; Jessica Helfand’s Face: A Visual Odyssey; Victor Papanek’s Design for the Real World; Heather Dewey-Halborg’s DNA portraits; Bulgarian socialist graphics


Episode 114: Kids Today
Painting on photographs, artists v. designers, the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, Richard Hollis designs for the Whitechapel.


Episode 113: Facing the Future
Kate Crawford | Trevor Paglen: Training Humans, Derren Brown, MoMA expands again, slime mold, Gordon Salchow


Episode 112: The Sweet Smell of Succession
Television: HBO’s Succession, The Deuce, The Politician, Face Values at Cooper Hewitt, Jessica Wynne photographs mathematician blackboards


Episode 111: The Great British Crit
The Great British Bake Off, how to crit, Wim Crouwel, Cokie Roberts


Episode 110: The Style of Elements
The Periodic Table of the Elements, The Death of Design Portfolios, the 1619 Project, CityLab Maps Matter


Episode 109: Public Legacy, Private Equity
Monotype acquired by private equity firm; Ebony archives and Johnson Publishing headquarters; Hal Prince; Ugly Gerry; Breezewood, PA


Episode 108: Covers
#bookcover2019 challenge, J.D. Salinger, The demise of MAD Magazine, Oskar Schlemmer’s The Triadic Ballet, Don Wall Visionary Cities


Episode 107: Scientific Advances
Science poster redesign, Eli Baden-Lasar’s portraits of his sperm-donor siblings, Jony Ive parodies, a ridiculous commercial


Episode 106: The Twenty
The large Democratic field and the first 2020 debate, Harriet Tubman on the $20, Peter Saville’s cover for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures,“ Edie McClurg.


Episode 105: Malta, Marketing, Make-Believe
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Malta, The West Wing Weekly podcast, branded empathy, Chernobyl, Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist


Episode 104: Fade to White
Facebook’s redesign, Morning Edition’s new theme, Cris Shapan, Stanley Kubrick at the London Design Museum.


Episode 103: Cathedrals and Candidates
Notre Dame cathedral fire, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg design systems, Mina Markham and Pantsuit, unidentifiable objects, Wesley Morris on romantic comedies.


Episode 102: The Long View
Black hole image, Dyson Airblade, Titus Kaphar, Liz Jackson, Comic Sans takeover


Episode 101: Going West
2019 AIGA design conference, creative partnerships, Full Frontal’s Brexit video, film noir YouTube comment thread


Episode 100: Loving Librarians
Ralph Nader v. graphic design, libraries and serendipity, Sally Potter’s The Party, the shape of silence


Episode 99: The Space Between
Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim, Kevin Roche and the Miller House, Josh Lipnik’s modern midwest tours, Ben Stiller plays Michael Cohen


Episode 98: Traffic
Adam Grant, email response times, Slack, John Ruskin, Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 Oscars speech, Diana Vreeland Memo Generator


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


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


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


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


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


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


Episode 91: Voter Experience
Voter suppression by Republicans, The McKinsey Design Index, Lovevery, Photogrammar


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Episode 70: When Art Imitates Life
Monstrous men, magazine covers and editors, Arranged!, Prongles


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Episode 48: Lella and La La
Lella Vignelli, John Berger, Second Avenue Subway, Jackie, La La Land


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


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


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


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.


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


Doors and Perception
Bathroom signs, MBA students, Mozilla and open logo design, The Commissar Vanishes, Masters of Sex


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


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


Passing the Torch
Olympics, cursive handwriting, NASA’s secret art studio, gun sales on Facebook, #firstsevenjobs


Rough Sketches
Trump-Pence, Clinton-Kaine, Black Lives Matter, The Four Seasons, mapping the brain, the video essay


Border Control
Brexit, borders, naming, Fiorello La Guardia and his airport, robot dogs, though leadership, Snapfax


A Seat at the Table
The President needs a Cabinet-level Secretary of Design — or a design consigliere


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


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


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


High Maintenance
Innovators and maintainers, Bernie and Hillary, mapping and infrastructure, algorithms and Rembrandt


Shapes and Japes
Corporate design humor from Mic Drop to bland.ly, photoviz, remembering Zaha Hadid


Crowd Control
Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds


The Logosphere
The Met and the logosphere, designing with scientists, the Clinton-Sanders graphics race


Magic on the Page
Matthias Buchinger, Beyonce, Mohawk Superfine at 70, Umberto Eco



Guys and Dolls
Barbie and Rey, food and design, 30 years after the Challenger disaster



Working-Class Heroes
British art schools, Bowie, Alan Rickman, the State of the Union, cannabis chocolate


State of the Chart
Data visualization, The Big Short



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



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



Magnitude
Climate change, Drake’s take on James Turrell, an IKEA horror catalog


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


Basic Human Needs
IKEA and Facebook efforts for refugees, e-reading, Adrian Frutiger, Phil Patton



Moving Pictures
Aylan Kurdi, photojournalism, airline posters, early television


September Issues
Google’s new logo, design thinking, and lessons from Oliver Sacks



Over the Rainbow
Rainbows, selfie sticks, and the flag of New Zealand


New Horizons
Pluto is at the outer limits of the solar system. Porto is at the end of Europe.


Places and Faces
Art, nostalgia, and community


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....


Knockout
Are boxing and photography hipster pleasures? Are they past their prime, or do they have a bright future?


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


East Meets West
Or collaboration vs. “one person making one thing at one time”


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


The Observatory: Words, Pictures, Sounds
A few things on our minds


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.


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


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


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



Observed


Sara Little Turnbull was tiny but fierce (she stood a not-very-towering 4'11). The designer once described as “corporate America's secret weapon” was a leading practitioner for more than six decades, and remains an inspiration to countless women in design, technology, and (notably) in science. On her podcast, Lost Women of Science, American journalist Katie Hafner discusses the woman, the legend—and the N-95 mask.

Following President Biden's  2021 executive order to transform the customer experience, agencies have been rethinking how they can create organizational change and best practices—even at NASA—where design is leveraged in an effort to both build and sustain trust.  

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During a biopsy, a sample of her cancerous cells were collected without her knowledge. Education around Lacks has increased recently, and a statue and historical marker were dedicated to her last year in her birthplace of Roanoke. Now, a statue design contest is underway: they'll be accepting submissions until March 15. 

Goodbye war rooms, corner offices and—yikes—physical libraries, which have allegedly “gone the way of the landline and the Dictaphone” in law offices. Post-pandemic, with remote and hybrid work on the rise, a more collaborative, equitable spatial allocation means a more flexible, and some say more productive workplace. 

Can design be a catalyst for societal progress? Asmita Kerkar thinks it can. Her design philosophy is hinged on nurturing spaces that foster empathy and facilitate community engagement, grounded in a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity. She channels her passion into creating equitable environments, bridging the gap between design and social change

I love it. What is it?

Following the light. Letting the actors move. Envisioning—and sculpting—a mood. Jack Fisk, the production designer behind There Will Be Blood, The Revenant, and Killers of the Flower Moon, among many other award-winning films, explains it all

Tyler Perry puts the planned $800 million expansion of his studio in Atlanta on hold after seeing OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora, which debuted Feb. 15. “Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind-blowing,” he said. With AI, there’s no need to travel to locations or build specialized sets. The future impacts are concerning, he says. “[A]s I was looking at it, I immediately started thinking of everyone in the industry who would be affected by this, including actors and grip and electric and transportation and sound and editors, and looking at this, I’m thinking this will touch every corner of our industry.”

The racism in the yield curve: Groundbreaking research from Destin Jenkins, an assistant history professor at Stanford University, reveals how the $4 trillion municipal bond market has historically excluded Black taxpayers and disproportionately benefited infrastructure projects in white communities. (Jenkins’s research focuses on the American state, racial capitalism, and the built environment; you can watch him explain his research in a recent fireside chat with bond professionals here.)

Tesla is recalling 2.19 million vehicles because of a problem with a font. If you don’t think design matters at this point, you can’t be helped.

There’s a lot of plastic hidden in our clothes. Like, a lot.

Singapore is set to require all flights departing the country to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2026.

What’s in a label? Well, the truth, mostly. Lawsuits filed against  Gorton’sALDIConagraBumble Bee Foods, Mowi, and Red Lobster are challenging Big Fish to back up the sustainability and eco-friendly labels they put on their seafood products and brands. “From what I see, there’s a good chance at least some of the companies defending themselves are engaging in false advertising, although they may not realize what they’re doing,” says Arlin Wasserman, the founder of sustainability consultancy Changing Tastes.

Nex Benedict, a transgender teen from Oklahoma, died the day after their peers assaulted them in a school bathroom. They had been bullied for ages, but the assaults began in earnest a few months after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill in 2022 that required public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates. This piece from the Independent provides essential context for the assault and details of Benedict’s life.

Chatbot versions of Adolph Hitler, Donald Trump, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski are among 100 chatbot “characters” on the busy far-right social network Gab. Most of the characters are playing to type, spewing conspiracies about COVID-19, vaccines, U.S. elections, climate change, Holocaust denial, and more. It goes downhill from there.

“People came here or already lived here, young people with lots of energy and ideas and ideals who wanted to start things,” observes Syd Staiti, Executive Director of Small Press Traffic, a Bay Area poetry organization and archive. They're turning 50 this year—and they're not alone! Bravo to all the hard-working artists and arts organizations on this list—and here's to the next 50.

Self-disruption allows companies to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating and responding to changing market dynamics rather than reacting defensively; it fosters a culture of innovation, encouraging employees to think creatively and take calculated risks; and it can even open new revenue streams and markets, ensuring long-term sustainability. Sam Aquillano, the former Executive Director of the Design Museum in Boston, explains it all.

In New Jersey, the ballot is structured in a way that favors endorsed candidates. Three candidates are making a persuasive case on why this might be a critical design problem.

TikTok has become a target of parents, policymakers and regulators who are concerned about the company’s data-collection practices and the platform’s effect on young people’s mental health—including whether there is a risk for addictive design.

Australia's first moon rover rover will collect samples of lunar soil known as regolith, from which NASA will attempt to extract oxygen — a key step toward establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon and producing rocket fuel to support future missions to Mars. And they need design help.

Thai graphic designer Chalermpol Jittagasem has created a new typeface family to help immigrants improve their English pronunciations. “I've seen so many Asian Americans subjected to truly cruel shaming for speaking English with a strong accent and incorrect pronunciation, even though they, like me, are living in the most diverse state in the US,” he says. 

Design Justice AI was announced in 2023; the Global Humanities Institute is sponsored by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes and the Mellon Foundation and is a partnership of four university-based centers at Rutgers, University of Pretoria, Australia National University, and University of Connecticut. Things are gearing up for a summer meeting in Pretoria; bookmark and follow along. 

Marsha Ann Maytum, founding principal of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMSA) and longtime champion of environmental, social, and justice causes, has died at 69. “Her quiet, tenacious brand of leadership is notable, especially in a profession where ego often proliferates,” says architect Kim Gould.  “It is as if her enormous humility gave her a change maker superpower, to the point that thinking ‘what would Marsha do’ is something others actually do.”

“But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean.” Miranda Priestly, the deliciously vicious fashion editor from The Devil Wear Prada, will be back in the U.K. spotlight in a new musical adaptation of the novel and film from Elton John. Vanessa Williams will be playing the devil herself

Restoration AI? Architects and designers have been using AI to help manage large data sets and visualize ideas for better decision-making. But can AI tools also help assess structural damage in aging infrastructure and underresourced communities? 

Anywhere this is a camera, this is a risk

In Chicago: A Love Supreme.

“For decades, Charlene Prempeh writes, ”Black designers have been sheathed in an invisible cloak.” Her new book uncovers just a few of the cracks and erasures and oversights: from postwar African-American cartoonist Jackie Ormes, to mid-century West African riffs on “Tropical Modernist” architecture pioneered by John Owusu Addo and Oluwole Olumuyiwa, to the rise of more recent Black British fashion stars like Bianca Saunders and Samuel Ross, this is one exhilerating (and expansive!) list.

Glen Weldon—host of NPR's buzzy Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast— calls the Yorgos Lanthimos film Poor Things a weird and intoxicating and unforgettable “visual tasting menu”—and makes his own (rather compelling) case for why it should win this year's Oscar for Production Design.

Design-led accessibility … at Starbucks.



Jobs | February 28