Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | The Observatory From the Archive

Passing the Torch




| Essays

Accessibility and Innovation at iF Design

Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow Karen Korellis Reuther picks some of her favorite iF Design Award gold medal winners....
Richard Baird | Essays

LogoArchive pLAy

LogoArchive began by documenting the forms, form language, and meaning-making that developed out of mid-century modernist identity programs. ...
Debbie Millman | Audio

Design Matters from the Archive: Claire Danes

At 10, she announced that money or no money, she would be true to her art—and there was no plan B. And, well, actress Claire Danes stuck to it....
Laura Scherling | Essays

Rethinking Sustainable Luxury Fashion and Supply Chain Design

Persistent questions around sustainability and representation have long plagued the fashion industry....
Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt | Audio

S9E6: Elizabeth Hargrave

Elizabeth Hargrave is an American game designer whose games include Wingspan, Mariposas, and Tussie Mussie....
Debbie Millman | Audio

Design Matters From the Archive: Miranda July

Writer, director, and actress Miranda July discusses the surreality of releasing a surreal movie in an even more surreal time....
Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt | Audio

S9E5: Lucia Lucas

Lucia Lucas is a baritone who made her U.S. debut in 2019 at Tulsa Opera as Don Giovanni....
Debbie Millman | Audio

Jonny Sun

Feeling like an outsider, Jonny Sun turned to performance, comedy and Twitter—eventually channeling his thoughts into Jomny Sun and his signature Aliebn, and now his beautifully, happily sad book, Goodbye, Again....
Susan Morris | Essays

Observed at Hot Docs 2021

The Hot Docs Film Festival from Canada is the largest documentary festival in North America screening over 200 international films....
Robert Finkel + Shea Tillman | Books

The IBM Poster Program

IBM’s mid-century corporate creative direction usually brings to mind Paul Rand, but it’s staff graphic designers and photographers developed posters as a platform for elevating internal communications and initiatives within the company....


Observed | July 30

A new director for New York’s Museum of Arts and Design—the 11th one, in fact. [JH]

A closer look at the economics of Black pop culture reveals that most Black creators (outside music) come from middle-to-upper middle class backgrounds, while the Black poor are written about but rarely get the chance to speak for themselves. [BV]

How Katsushika Hokusai’s “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” emerged from Japan’s isolation to become a global icon. [BV]

Nissan teamed up with sound designers at Bandai Namco, the gaming company known for Pac-Man and Tekken to create more musical warning sounds. (via Kottke)[BV]

A brave—and brilliant—essay about the perils of sameness in design. [JH]


Observed | July 23

What is the opposite of design forward—design backward? (Like a good vintage wine?) Apparently not! [JH]

Global intuitive cryptology, an installation by Hayal Pozanti at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in New York. [JH]

An insightful essay by Jarrett Fuller on the impact and legacy of Cranbrook’s graphic design program. [JH]

Photographer Bryan Sansivero has spent years exploring and documenting homes across Upstate New York that have been left to the ravages of time. (Don’t miss the Clown House.) [JH]


Observed | July 16

Google Head of Product Inclusion—and author of Building For EveryoneAnnie Jean-Baptiste on better design practices. [JH]

AOC, master of the modern visual: a beautiful essay by ALexandra Lange. [JH]

An extraordinary new seriwes of books (three of them, slipcased) on Swiss graphic design history. [JH]

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon changed the world of design with her life-sized graphics. A new collaboration with filmmaker Gary Hustwit is designed to introduce her to a new generation of design lovers. [BV]

Is Artificial Intelligence...a design problem? [JH]

In fiction, the contemporary art world is, more often than not, represented as a ridiculous shell game in which empty provocation is propped up by canny marketing and rampant financial speculation. [BV]

Will there ever be a place to sit down in Moynihan Station? [BV]

Reimagined movie posters from Patrick Concepcion. (Via Allan Chochinov/Jason Kottke.) [JH]

Wolfgang Weingart, widely credited as the father of New Wave typography, has died. He was 80. [JH]

“His recent installations sweep us in, sometimes entertain, then ask us to step back and consider images and feelings that seem too full, too immediate, to consider.” The internationally acclaimed artist Christian Boltanski has died in Paris. He was 76. [JH]

Saved from a dumpster, glass negatives reveal life in Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. (Via Don Whelan.) [JH]

The UK filmmaker Paul Bush is known for his stop-motion animations using repurposed objects. In his nostalgic short Ride, he finds his muse in theiconic motorcycles of the 1950s and ’60s. [BV]


Observed | July 06

Where’s our flying-car future? Maybe it’s finally a little closer, thanks to AirCar. [BV]


Observed | June 30

“In the infinite collection of gigantic, dwarven, elongated, flattened, skeletal, microscopic, grotesque, gnarled typefaces that grows everyday,” wrote Alphonse to Boissieu in 1854, “it is surprising that no one has thought of reproducing the beautiful antique letter whose proportions are so fortunately and wisely combined...” More on epigraphy—the study of ’exposed writings‘—and on Mercure, the new typeface from Fonderie Abyme, here [JH]


Observed | June 25

Parsing the pixels to discern truth from falsehood: truth and consequences in the deepfake era. [JH]


Observed | June 24

A touching exchange between two wonderful art directors, brought together by unlikely circumstances: Steve Heller and Véronique Vienne reflect on creativity, a chronic illness, and everything in between. [JH]



Jobs | August 05