Obituaries

The Editors
Remembering Hugh
It is with great sorrow that we share the news that Hugh Weber—network theorist, design advocate, and one of our industry’s most evangelical believers in the power of design and community—has died.


Steven Heller
Peter Bradford, American Modern
Steven Heller remembers Peter Bradford, American Modern.


Jessica Helfand
Remembering Ralph Caplan
"If it were a religious denomination", Caplan once wrote, "design would be Unitarianism"


Lana Rigsby
Remembering Jack Summerford
Lana Rigsby shares fond memories of the legendary Texas designer Jack Summerford.


Steven Heller
Robert Massin
Steven Heller remembers Robert Massin.



Steven Heller
Dave King (RIP)
Last January I thought I had received an email from a ghost.


Michael Bierut
Remembering Gordon
Michael Bierut remembers the best teacher he ever had, Gordon Salchow.



Steven Heller
Thanks, Robert Grossman
Bob’s death was unexpected. I felt kicked in the stomach when, on Friday morning, I read an email from his companion, Elaine Louie, announcing the tragic news.


Brian LaRossa
The Shape of a Design Mentorship
Before the advent of writing, everything was taught through mentorship. How to chip a stone into an axe. How to build a shelter. How to love. How to lead. Mentorship is hardwired into our DNA.


Steven Heller
Memory of an Eclectic Modernist: Ivan Chermayeff
Remembering Ivan Chermayeff, who died this past Saturday, December 2. He was 85.


Steven Heller
Nuclear Fear
Remembering the late Robert Blakeley, designer of the fallout shelter symbol, and the nuclear fear of the 50’s.


Chris Pullman
Jack Stauffacher: Typographer, Scholar, Teacher, and Polymath
Chris Pullman remembers AIGA Medalist and revered typographer Jack Stauffacher, who passed away a few days before his 97th birthday.


Sean Adams
Remembering Clive Piercy
Without Clive the world will be a little less colorful.


Sean Adams
Margo Chase
The design profession and all of us lost a treasure last weekend when Margo Chase died.


Sean Adams
Harris Lewine
In the age of the art director Harris Lewine was without equal.


Steven Heller
Elaine Lustig Cohen, Pioneer
Steven Heller remembers Elaine Lustig Cohen, passionate historian, avid collector, and design practitioner.


DJ Stout
Remembering Mike Hicks
The embodiment of everything a great designer should be



DJ Stout
Jack Unruh
The House on Fairmont


Jessica Helfand
Remembering Ruth Sackner
An inveterate collector



Marvin Heiferman
Mary Ellen Mark, 1940–2015
Remembering the noted photojournalist



Jessica Helfand
Howard Paine: 1929–2014
Remembering Howard Paine, National Geographic art director and stamp designer extraordinaire



Steven Heller
A Memory of Mickey
Steven Heller remembers Mildred Friedman, who passed away late Wednesday.


Elizabeth Guffey
Deborah Sussman: Los Angeles Design Pioneer
Remebering her rise and influence as a woman working in the male-dominated world of postwar design.


Michael Bierut
Massimo Vignelli, 1931-2014
A personal memory of the late designer Massimo Vignelli.


Alexandra Lange
Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).


Alexandra Lange
Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.


Rick Poynor
The Writings of William Drenttel
Essays from the Design Observer archive show the wide scope of William Drenttel's interests and concerns.


The Editors
In Memory of William Drenttel



Rick Poynor
Martin Sharp: From Satire to Psychedelia
The late Martin Sharp was a visual innovator whose work erased artificial distinctions between applied image-making and fine art.



Chris Pullman
Remembering Alvin Eisenman
Alvin Eisenman received the AIGA Medal in October, 1991. Chris Pullman, a student in Eisenman's class of 1966 — and a member of the faculty ever since — gave these remarks at the event.


Phil Patton
Niels Diffrient: The Human Factor
Phil Patton remembers Niels Diffrient. Photographs by Dorothy Kresz.


Alexandra Lange
Kicked A Building Lately?
That question, the title of the 1976 collection of Ada Louise Huxtable’s work for the New York Times, embodies her approach to criticism.


Michael Bierut
Positively Michael Patrick Cronan
Michael Bierut remembers the late Michael Cronan.


Jessica Helfand
Bill Moggridge 1943-2012
Jessica Helfand remebers Bill Moggridge.



Observed
Hillman Curtis Celebration Benefit
A Hillman Curtis celebration benefit has been organized by his friends and colleagues.


Debbie Millman
Hillman Curtis, 1961-2012
“I met Hillman Curtis for the first time in February 2006 when I interviewed him for my radio show Design Matters.” Debbie Millman remembers her friend, Hillman Curtis.


Rick Poynor
Richard Hamilton, the Great Decipherer
The artist Richard Hamilton, who died this week, was an acute observer of design and the contemporary world.


Rick Poynor
Paul Stiff, the Reader’s Champion
For the late Paul Stiff, design educator, writer, editor and skeptic, typography must never neglect to serve the reader.



Gerry Shamray
Harvey and Me
A remembrance of comic artist and graphic novelist Harvey Pekar by an illustrator who worked with him throughout his career, fellow Clevelander Gerry Shamray.



Julie Lasky
Protect Me from What I Want
Photo in memory of Tobias Wong.



Owen Edwards
Irving Penn, 1917-2009
Irving Penn, who died on October 7th at the age of 92, marks the end of the great age of glamour in magazines, a remarkable period when brilliant photographers who happened to make their livings in fashion and advertising were finally recognized for the artistry of their eyes.



Michael Bierut
Spoiler Alert! Or, Happy Father's Day
Dad couldn't help it. He was a natural born spoiler.



Michael Bierut
The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman
For over 40 years, Lou Dorfsman designed everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. Getting great work done in giant institution is supposed to be hard. How did he make it look easy?



Adam Harrison Levy
The Inventor of the Cowboy Shirt
A few years ago, I found myself lost inside a shopping mall with Jack A. Weil, better known as Jack A, the man who, in 1946, invented the snap-buttoned cowboy shirt.



Gong Szeto
Lehman's Bankruptcy Statement
I'm just a designer, but it doesn't take a genius to read a bankruptcy statement. Take a look at the Lehman Brothers statement dated Sunday, September 14, 2008. Read the whole thing down to exhibit A and the list of creditors — this is an historical document.



Michael Bierut
David Foster Wallace, Branding Theorist, 1962-2008




Glen Cummings
Athos Bulcão, The Artist of Brasilia
Athos Bulcão was a public artist, interior designer, muralist, furniture and graphic designer who collaborated with Oscar Niemeyer and others to define Brasilia — one of the 20th century’s most radical and controversially received urban experiments. Bulcão died on July 31 at the age of 90, and left behind an astonishing body of work.



Jessica Helfand
Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.



Michael Bierut
Rest in Peace, Herbert Muschamp
Officially published for the first time as a posthumous tribute: a loving parody of the writing of the late, great architectural critic Herbert Muschamp.



Michael Bierut
Flat, Simple and Funny: The World of Charley Harper
A tribute to the late designer Charley Harper, "the only wildlife artist who has never been compared to Audubon and never will be."



Peter Good
Remembering Sol Lewitt (1928-2007)
I first met Sol Lewitt in 1986, when he and Carol and their young daughters moved to Chester, Connecticut, a small town on the Connecticut River where I have a graphic design studio. We met at an opening at the Chester Gallery...



Steven Heller
Silas H. Rhodes, Founder of SVA
Silas H. Rhodes, chairman of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, died last Thursday at 91. He was a progressive educator who established a uniquely collaborative learning environment that delicately balanced creative independence with academic rigor.



John Corbett
Sun Ra, Street Priest and Father of D.I.Y. Jazz
Before the 1950s, artist-owned record companies were unheard of, but Sun Ra pioneered the idea along with a couple of other musicians and composers. Sun Ra and Alton Abraham helped define the do-it-yourself ethic that came to be a central part of the American independent music industry, designing and in some cases manufacturing the covers themselves. In the process, they maintained a previously unimaginable degree of control over the look and content of their jazz releases.



Steven Heller
Martin Weber in the Third Dimension
You may not have heard of Martin J. Weber, but he was a graphic artist, typographer, art director, and most important, inventor of various photographic techniques that gave two-dimensional surfaces the illusion of being reproduced in three dimensions.



Alissa Walker
War Is Over! If You Want It
When the star of the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is asked by a reporter what he thinks Nixon should do to end the Vietnam War, Lennon stares incredulously into the camera. "He should declare peace." As if this was the most obvious solution in the world.



Willis Regier
In Remembrance of Richard Eckersley
Richard Eckersley died on April 16, having given the best years of his life to establishing the importance of high-quality book design for university presses. Here, a remembrance by Willis Regier, director of the University of Illinois Press.



Michael Bierut
Wilson Pickett, Design Theorist, 1942 - 2006
Wilson Pickett's advice on hitmaking, "Harmonize, then customize," would make good advice for any designer.



Paula Scher
Remembering Henryk Tomaszewski




Jessica Helfand
Greer Allen: In Memoriam
Designer, critic, pundit and historian, Greer Allen was Senior Critic in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. He designed publications for The Houghton Library at Harvard, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and a number of other distinguished cultural institutions around the country. Greer Allen died last week after a short illness. He was 83.



Rick Poynor
Eduardo Paolozzi, 20th Century Image-Maker
If a visual artist created more concentrated, exhilarating images of science, technology and the media realm during the mid-20th century than British artist Eduardo Paolozzi, then I would like to see them. Paolozzi, who died on 22 April aged 81, was first of all a sculptor, but the screenprints he produced in the 1960s rank as masterpieces of the medium.



Michael Bierut
The Best Artist in the World
Alton Tobey, a little-known commercial illustrator, created a body of work in the early sixties that continues to inspire.



William Drenttel
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag: a designer's twenty-five years of interaction with the legandary writer.



Jessica Helfand
An Instrument of Sufficiently Lucid Cogitation
The legendary French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, who died on Tuesday at his home in the South of France, always carried a sketchbook with him. Today's obituary in The New York Times alleges that he described drawing as meditative, while photography was intuitive: though certainly both activities might have been informed by a relentless need to observe and in a sense, preserve the world around him.



Michael Bierut
Rob Roy Kelly’s Old, Weird America
The late educator and designer Rob Roy Kelly has had a lasting influence on the profession of graphic design, particularly through his landmark book "American Wood Type."



William Drenttel
Paul Rand: Bibliography as Biography
This is bibliography as biography, and a posthumous testament to the considerable scope — and ongoing life — of one designer's mind. A Selected Bibliography of Books from the Collection of Paul Rand



Observed


The not-so-quiet panic from climate scientists.

Donald Trump has been framing Chinese immigrants as mostly “military-age” men, here to stir trouble from within. “And it sounds like to me, are they trying to build a little army in our country? Is that what they’re trying to do?” he said in a campaign stop last month. But one immigrant who traveled through Ecuador to the U.S. border told the AP that it’s not true. “It is impossible that they would walk on foot for over one month” to organize an attack, he said. “We came here to make money.” Another, who hopes to make enough to bring his wife and children, said, “This trip is deadly. People die. The trip isn’t suitable for women — it’s not suitable for anyone.” 

“You need to kick that f***ing door down!” Vice President Kamala Harris was the guest of honor at an AAPI Heritage Month event this week and encouraged attendees to break through the barriers they still face. “We have to know that sometimes, people will open the door for you and leave it open, sometimes they won't. And then you need to kick that f***ing door down," as the audience cheered. "Excuse my language," she laughed.

This is why we can’t have nice things. An art installation project called the Dublin Portal experience, a 24/7 live cam and screen offering a real-time link between Dublin and New York City, is being ruined by “a small minority of people” doing “inappropriate things.”

More than 100 high-profile French art world figures have signed an open letter supporting the Palais de Tokyo in Paris after longtime patron Sandra Hegedüs withdrew her funding, saying, “I don’t want to be associated with the new, very political direction at the Palais de Tokyo...dictated by the defence of wokeism, anti-capitalism, pro-Palestine, etc.’” At issue was the show Past Disquiet, which focuses on four “museums in exile” and is constructed as a touring exhibit. From the response to Hegedüs: “These words and these methods, using a popular tribunal on social networks… are dangerous for the art world, for artists and for the freedom of institutions, as well as for our democracy.”

The pageant system is a toxic workplace, according to Miss USA Noelia Voigt and Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava, who announced their resignations last week. Srivastava said her "personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization," and Voigt cited mental health reasons in a statement, then later accused the Miss America Organization of providing "a toxic work environment ... that, at best, is poor management and, at worst, is bullying and harassment." Miss Colorado Arianna Lemus resigned in solidarity on Friday, writing that Voigt and Srivastava's "voices have been stifled by the constraints of a contract that undermines their rights and dignity.” 

Democracy, it’s a design thing! Last March, a federal judge ruled that New Jersey’s ballot — a confusing design known as the “county line” system — was likely unconstitutional and couldn’t be used in June’s primary. One county has unveiled their new ballot design, which looks awfully familiar. 

Heading to NY Design Week? Here’s the itinerary. (It’s May 16-23.)

Ann Pizzorusso, a geologist and Renaissance art historian, says she has finally solved one of the art world’s enduring mysteries: where in the world was the Mona Lisa when she was sitting for Leonardo da Vinci? It took her dual expertise to find the clues that were there all along. “Geologists don’t look at paintings, and art historians don’t look at geology,” she says. 

Three chatbots explain themselves

Here’s the first design proposal to replace Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed last March. It's from an all-star team: Carlo Ratti Associati — the architecture firm led by architect and MIT professor Carlo Ratti — WeBuild, an Italian construction group, and Michel Virlogeux, a French structural engineer known for his work with Foster + Partners designing the world’s tallest bridge.  Their version has a longer span, a raised clearance, and the aesthetic of an enduring landmark. “The team hopes to deliver a bridge that is more contemporary visually and is also safe and durable for decades to come.”

Design as an act of neighborly pettiness.

The Biden Harris campaign is looking for a design lead and a graphic designer. (Both positions are full-time and based in Wilmington, Delaware.)

Mexico City is facing a desperate but unsurprising water crisis.  But, Javier Sánchez, founder of architectural firm JSa, says that by returning to ancient water technologies—like efficient rainwater harvesting—homes can be both beautiful and water-self-sufficient. 

Climeworks, a Swiss start-up, has just unveiled Mammoth, the world’s biggest carbon-absorbing plant. Located in Hellisheidi, Iceland, Mammoth is designed to remove 36,000 metric tons of carbon each year, the equivalent of taking 8,600 cars off the road. “It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a much bigger drop in the bucket than any we’ve seen so far,”  Klaus Lackner, who heads the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, tells the Washington Post. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has instituted a voluntary “Secure by Design” pledge for enterprise software makers. It affirms they are improving, documenting, and publicly sharing a host of security protocols, fixes, and best practices. All the cool kids seemed to have signed up.    

Veterans are now playing an essential role in helping VA health centers design new facilities by piloting design simulators and assessing physical mockups before construction begins.  

It's hard out there for a young designer, says Nendo founder Oki Sato. "You have to think about materials and the process — not just human-centered, but for the planet — and we have to think about how it will be recycled in the future as well.”

Fast Company’s global design editor, Mark Wilson, sat down with Fuse Project founder Yves Béhar, Neri & Hu Design cofounder Rosanna Hu, IKEA CEO Jesper Brodin, and Mattel Chief Design Officer Chris Down and asked how AI was impacting their businesses. “The era of designing general devices and or apps that work the same way for everyone is going to be over soon,” says Béhar. Good ideas come from teams, but in the future, says Hu, “we might be able to get something in three minutes.” But Brodin asked the big questions. “What are the risks to humanity? How are we impacting truth?”

At the screening of Gary Hustwit’s new documentary, Eno, visionary musician Brian Eno said: "Algorithms cannot be in the hands of individuals like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg."⁠ It’s a capitalism thing. “Well, one thing that is really, really clear to me is that whoever designs the algorithms, designs the future. And it’s completely terrifying to me that the design of those algorithms is, in fact, almost 99 percent made by a few young Americans who want to make a lot of money. If profitability is the main goal of the design, then we’re going to end up with the same kind of shit that we got from social media.”

Did you know that since 1956, each Eurovision host broadcaster has had to come up with its own logo? Some are generic and forgettable, while others are more professional (and maybe also forgettable) (and speaking of forgetting, Istanbul completely forgot to design one in 2004, which is where at least one generic stand-in proved useful). As a suite of visual emblems, they're fascinating as a collective snapshot, sitting at the intersection of typography, globalism, and the amped-up TV culture of the music business. Among our favorites is the 2017 logo, which claims to have taken its inspiration from a traditional Ukrainian necklace, or namysto—considered to be a protective amulet and a symbol of beauty and health—and in this case, a way to honor and celebrate diversity.

Wonderful job opportunity—perhaps for a newly-minted MFA grad—working with the amazing people at Cita Press, where they celebrate the spread of culture and knowledge by publishing the writings of women authors whose works are open-licensed or in the public domain. Through its library of collaboratively designed free books, Cita honors the principles of decentralization, collective knowledge production, and equitable access to knowledge.

Struggling to figure out what to watch on Netflix? You're not alone! That's a challenge that still keeps Steve Johnson, Netflix’s VP of design, up at night.

How does color function In factories, schools, and hospitals? In the 1950s, it functioned like this. (Part Two is here.)

As if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't have enough on his plate, public response to a new identity program sparks controversy (and ridicule). "It looks like a moose getting a prostrate exam!" one person noted. "It looks like a Minecraft character milking an elk!" observed another. Behold: the communications kerfuffle around the design of a new logo for the Canadian Army.

Every object we bring into the world has a contextual backdrop, and every design decision is a compromise. How long should objects last? Charlie Humble-Thomas—a student at the RCA in London—ponders the question of what he calls “conditional longevity”. 

The United Methodist Church has reversed its denomination’s anti-LGBTQ policies and teachings and lifted all bans on same-sex marriage and gay clergy. The fight to allow same-sex marriage and gay clergy has been part of a painful debate within major Protestant denominations in the U.S. for nearly fifty years. Click through for a timeline of major milestones of the last five decades. 

AAPI History Month turns 45 this year.  Most people credit its establishment to Jeanie Jew, a fourth-generation Chinese American and a co-founder of the congressional Asian-Pacific staff caucus. Her grandfather had helped build the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1800s and then was killed amid anti-Asian unrest, a story which moved her colleagues on the Hill. In 1979, with support from California Rep. Norm Mineta and Hawaii Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation designating the first week of May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.”

The impossible dilemma of Black female leadership. “In predominantly White spaces, a Black woman is expected to code-switch, mimic White culture, and either explicitly or implicitly affirm harmful propaganda about Black people, in order to signal that she can be trusted by the establishment,” says Shauna Cox in Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine.

Weimar, Germany—the city that was home to both Germany’s post-1918 government and the first (of three) Bauhauses—has taken the courageous step to re-examine the school’s relationship to National Socialism. Organized by the Klassic Stiftung Weimar and running from May 9 through mid-September, three exhibitions take on this immense subject: The Bauhaus As a Site of Political Contest, 1919-1933, will be at the Museum Neues Weimar; Removed – Confiscated – Assimilated, 1930/37 at the Bauhaus Museum; and Living in the Dictatorship, 1933 -1945 at the Schiller Museum. A review in today's Guardian looks at the complexity and coordination of this trio of shows, and delves into the historical nuance—and torment—of its political and artistic history. 



Jobs | May 27