The Observatory

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 | June 19

How punk rock changed the course of design history. [BV]

Adobe is releasing five fonts based on designs by Bauhaus figures, “lost to history”, which have been revived by German typographer Erik Spiekermann and a group of students. [BV]


Observed | June 14

The history of the 1940 Emeco 10-06 Navy Chair, made of bent aluminum, and strong enough to withstand an 8-story drop from a Chicago window. [BV]


Observed | June 13

Massimo Vignelli’s unused maps for the D.C. Metro are amazing. [BV]

A tale of two hats from Steven Heller. [BV]


Observed | June 12

About two years ago Brooklyn-based polymath Robby Kraft started using algorithmic code to design new origami patterns and they are astounding. [BV]

Herb Lubalin was born 100 years ago. To celebrate, join in to republish Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer (1918-81). [BV]


Observed | June 11

Super freaky recently declassified NSA security posters. Seriously. [BV]


Observed | June 07

Encyclopædia Britannica wants to fix false Google results with actual facts. [BV]


Observed | June 06

“Working with children, after all, was the rare field in which women’s gender was seen as an asset rather than an obstacle. As children gained their own spaces, their own toys, and their own diminutive furniture, beginning in the nineteenth century, refining, proselytizing, and testing designs meant for children was women’s work. We see their influence everywhere.” Alexandra Lange on the hidden women of architecture and design. [BV]


Observed | June 04

Lab100 is a new type of medical clinic that will use data science to predict and prevent medical conditions instead of diagnosing and treating issues after-the-fact. [BV]

What if your surroundings never went in the garbage? Taking recycling to the next level. [BV]

What New York can learn from Europe about designing a city for people instead of cars. [MB]


Observed | June 01

Jaron Lanier was there for the creation of the internet and is convinced that social media is toxic, making us sadder, angrier, and more isolated. [BV]


Observed | May 31

#TBT: The retro-futuristic movie posters of Laurent Durieux. [BV]


Observed | May 30

What happens when speculative design goes corporate?...At its most disturbing, it’s a way of giving a company’s employees permission to think the unthinkable—to grapple with how omniscient and powerful that corporate entity might become. [BV]

An explainer video from 1923—when films were still silent and the discovery of Pluto was 7 years in the future—about Einstein’s theory of relativity. [BV]


Observed | May 29

Arbys wants you to download their font, Saucy_AF, to “say it with sauce”. [BV]

It wasn’t until the 1990s that public libraries realized their most loyal patrons were teens—and started giving them room to act like teens. Alexandra Lange explores young adult architecture. [BV]


Observed | May 28

Meghan Markle has been granted her own coat of arms; its design was approved by the Queen. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | May 24

“Design in this century has little use for anything that can’t be quantified. And yet, here is Apple’s App Store, presenting new, original illustrations several times a week.” [BV]


Observed | May 23

Bill Gold, the seminal designer who created posters for some of Hollywood‘s most famous movies—from A Streetcar Named Desire to The Exorcist—has died. [LS]

Pilot and photographer Christiaan van Heijst captures his stunning view of weather from the cockpit. [BV]

Goodbye Philip Roth, designer manqué. [BV]


Observed | May 22

Sadly we must say goodbye to Robert Indiana, who brought his world-famous LOVE sculpture to NYC in 1971. [BV]

Adherents to Design Thinking believe it will save higher ed. Are they delusional? [BV]

Adieu Interview. Almost 50 years after it was founded by Andy Warhol, the magazine is shutting down. [BV]


Observed | May 18

A Qin dynasty document from the third-century B.C.E, titled “The Volume of Crime Scene Investigation—Burglary,” pointed up fingerprints as a means of evincing whodunnit: The surprising history (and future) of fingerprints. [BV]


Observed | May 16

Glamour shots of chickens. [BV]

This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center presents The Ark. [BV]



Jobs | June 21