Instagramming Around Australia
Lessons from contemporary Australian architecture, plus what I saw on Instagram.
All Maps Lie
A slideshow of images from Paula Scher's new book Maps
A House to Live With: Paul Rand in Esquire 1953
A slideshow of Ann and Paul Rand's house in Connecticut, as it appeared in the August 1953 issue of Esquire.
Underground Vietnam Military Patches
I recently followed the keyword search “handmade” on eBay and accidentally stumbled across an entire series of “handmade” military patches.
Chicago 2010 Poster Biennial
A slideshow of the winners of the 2nd Chicago International Poster Biennial.
An Xiao Mina
The Texting Culture of the Philippines
The design decisions centered around the culture of “Load na dito.”
China: Brooms, Mops and Chairs
Considering everyday objects like mops and brooms within China's broader historical context reframes the relationship between Chinese people and their streets and is, for that matter, a testament to their communal living habits.
Adam Harrison Levy
Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs
Close to a decade ago, in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man was walking his dog. Amidst the garbage he caught sight of a battered suitcase: inside he found photographs of a bombed out Hiroshima. A unique slideshow of 100 photographs.
Paul Rand, Painter
Paul Rand had more in common with Paul Klee than a four letter first and last name. He too, painted.
Alan Thomas, at the Kolkata Book Fair.
Pictures of Pictures
James Biber gives us a close new look at familiar paintings.
Nothing says "I Love You" like a mass-produced sentiment written by somebody else: Herewith, our very own collection of Penny Dreadfuls.
Mailman, Route 16
Jeshurun Webb shares her correspondence with her mailman.
The Art of Poetry
Debbie Millman interview Poetry
magazine editor Christian Wiman, plus a slideshow of 67 Poetry
Circus: The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier
Rediscovered: Frederick W. Glasier. Glasier made extraordinary photographs of the American circus during its heyday.
A look inside little-known design publication Dot Zero, the house organ of pioneering design consultancy Unimark, featuring a slide show and an interview with its designer, Massimo Vignelli.
James Victore: Straight Up
"Few designers have done more to render typography foundries irrelevant than Victore. The human hand, his hand, is always in evidence." Michael Bierut on James Victore's work.
Dogs and Their Designers
Design Observer posted an open call for designers to submit photos of themselves with their canine companions. These are the results...
Publishing in the Age of the Internet
, published by Unit Editions, are collectable "papers" which, focus on design and visual communication, from the past, by placing it in a future context.
Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories and Collected Thoughts
Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations
from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art celebrates a form of documentation that is familiar to everyone — the list.
Do You Copy? The Visuals of Ham Radio
The QSL card offered proof, among ham radio operators, that contact had been made. The design of these cards was not an indication of good or bad, of sophisticated or naïve thinking, but was crafted from what was available at the time. Today, they provide physical evidence of early social networking – still at work.
Bukhara: A Traveler’s Notes
Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of the legendary Silk Road. Presented here is a slideshow of design and architecture from one traveler's visit.
A visit to Mussolini’s Esposizione Universale Roma makes evident that one can be fervently anti-fascist and still admire — indeed savor — aesthetics for their own merits.
Welcome Home: Emily Hass’s "SIDES Berlin"
Artist Emily Hass abstracts the forms of Berlin buildings, painting them with gouache or sewing them onto paper with canvas strands.
Jugendstil: The Youth Style of Viennese Book Art
Turn-of-the-century Vienna was a magical, infectious brew. Viennese children’s book illustrations at the time were no exception.
The Leisure of Looking: A Pedestrian View in a High-Speed Era
As trolleys replaced the horse drawn carriage, only to be overtaken by the streetcar and the automobile, Booth Tarkington observes that “the faster people were carried, the less time they had to spare.”
The Bones of Francois Robert
For the past three years, Francois Robert has spent hundreds of hours arranging the bones of a single human skeleton into a series of striking iconic shapes, creating a photographic series he calls "Stop the Violence." The results are beautiful and haunting.
Finding Vivian Maier
In 2008, John Maloof purchased an anonymous body of photographic images at an auction in Chicago. After spending seven months reviewing the images he found the identity of the photographer, her name was Vivian Maier.
Adam Harrison Levy
From 1913 to 1971 five thousand one hundred and twenty one mentally ill patients were cremated. Their remains were sealed in copper canisters. In 2000 David Maisel photographed them.
A world colonized by brands is the theme of a new film, Logorama,
by French designers and filmmakers H5.
Ulysses: Fast Track to 1934 Best Seller
The first United States publishing of James Joyce's Ulysses
Felice C. Frankel,
George M. Whitesides
No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale
A slideshow of images from the book, No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale
The Nabokov Collection
The assignment: redesign Vladimir Nabokov's book covers, all twenty-one of them. The solution: twenty-one specimen boxes, the kind used by butterfly collectors like Nabokov, each created by a different designer.
10.20.09: William Drenttel and Jon Piasecki
The Stonework of Jon Piasecki
"Stone construction is one of the most enduring traces of human activity. Any effort to quarry, cut and stack it is one that requires a powerful incentive, extensive planning and specialized skill." The Stone River
project of Jon Piasecki.
Timothy Jack Ward
Gardens and Their Designers
When I loaded up my Budget truck and moved from New York to our nation’s capital, the last thing on, and the first thing off, was my plants.
Adam Harrison Levy
Saul Leiter: Resurrected
Saul Leiter taught himself to paint, but his father did not approve. These early abstract works, dating from the 1940s, show a remarkably confident use of line, color and composition.
Covering the Good Books
When reading was more fundamental than tweeting, Time Life Books
played a significant role in getting the general public to acquire books on almost every subject.
On the Street in Tokyo
The major internal conflict I experienced on my recent trip to Japan was whether to explore the old-world: Zendos, philosopher's paths, Kabuki, tatami mats, visits to ancient spaces — or the new one: anime, arcades and bars that serve liquor while also selling puppies.
Adam Harrison Levy
Cars R Us
Andrew Bush’s photographs, featured in his new book Drive, remind us just how intimate we have become with our cars.
Adam Harrison Levy
The Photographs of Manuel Bromberg
There are other photographs taken on the beaches of Normandy that are almost entirely unknown. Never seen before, we present the photographs of Manuel Bromberg, Normandy, 1944.
Seymour, An Introduction
In a world of design consultants, information architects, and experience planners, Seymour Chwast is something refreshingly old-fashioned: a commercial artist. If this is a term that has fallen into dispute, Seymour is the best argument for reviving it.
Invasion of the Neutered Sprites
There is an epidemic threatening our world: the pointy-limbed little people that appear in every other nonprofit logo. Death to the Neutered Sprites!
Will Burtin: Design and Science
Will Burtin’s story is presented in Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin
. Like all of the emigré “pioneers,” Burtin brought an amazing amount of talent and energy (along with plain old ambition) to his modernist approach.
Cats and Their Designers
Behold: our collection of feline wonders, and the designers who named them.
The Obama Victory
The Polling Place Photo Project, staged in partnership with The New York Times and AIGA, seeks to visualize democracy in action with photographs by citizens engaged with voting at the polls.
Yesterday was Barrack Obama's day, and these photographs are dedicated to him.
A Year of Political Banner Ads
Perhaps the strangest aspect of this year's political landscape is the degree to which political banner ads have invaded our web space. Whether bearing the graphic identities of the major campaigns, or the crude, cobbled typography of web-marketing firms, they have popped up almost anywhere. And for the past year or so, I've been collecting my favorites.
Go West, Young Art Director
When veteran magazine art directors get together to reminisce about the glory years, one title always gets mentioned: West. This storied weekly supplement of the Los Angeles Times, art directed by Mike Salisbury, was a masterwork of design erudition.
Winners of the Chicago Poster Biennial
Design Observer is pleased to be an official sponsor of the Chicago International Poster Biennial, and to publish a slide show of 31 of the winners of the 2008 competition.
The Typographer’s Guide to the Galaxy
Before Oded decided to mix chemistry and typography, his work already explored the inner soul of letters by letting them channel the personality of a poet’s or a musician’s work.
The Next Page: Thirty Tables of Contents
Last year, on the occasion of "Next," the AIGA's Biennial National Design Conference in Denver, Design Observer published a little book, The Next Page: Thirty Tables of Contents
. We are sharing it here as a slide show...
Blast-Door Art: Cave Paintings of Nuclear Era
Welcome to the mordant, jingoistic and occasionally crude world — but rarely before seen world — of “blast-door art�? — the cave paintings of the nuclear era.
Any Baseball is Beautiful
Baseball spring training opens Tuesday. It is in this spirit that I stumbled upon the photographs of Don Hamerman. For the past few years, as he's walked his dog at a local park, he's picked up lost and forgotten baseballs. There are dozens of them now, all lovingly photographed.
Designer Tom Manning creates surreal comic strips using the nonsensical text of spam emails.
Stephen Doyle: A Few Words
Stephen Doyle is a graphic wordsmith.
Burma (Myanmar), 1989
This slideshow of photographs from 1989 is offered in solidarity with the people of Burma — as they again confront one of the most brutal regimes in the world.
Wallace Berman's Photographs
In 1961, Wallace Berman, a California-based artist, publisher of the proto-zine, Semina
, gallerist, and photographer, too a picture of his landlady while he was living in Larkspur, California. We see her (the landlady!) sprawled across a bed dressed in a bra and skirt, casually holding a pistol...
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."
One Man's Literary Compass
It was in 1966 when I returned to San Francisco to re-establish The Greenwood Press. The first thing I did was to build these bookshelves with my young architect friends. These photographs by Dennis Letbetter, forty years later, have captured so beautifully the soul and spirit of Greenwood's library.
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.
The Other Monocle
Let's look back to another, virtually forgotten but decidedly important, magazine with the very same name — one that published under the motto, "In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king." Monocle.
The Good Citizen's Alphabet
Bertrand Russell had the wisdom to realize that certain words require proper definition to be used correctly in political and social discourse. This alphabet book is offered here as a slide show for our readers.
All That Jazz: Posters by Niklaus Troxler
Niklaus Troxler's jazz posters can be viewed as a single, self-initiated project that has developed over five decades, a body of work with few precedents. Spanning an astonishing range of styles, the posters are united by a single thing: the passion of a single man who serves at once as designer and client.
Sister Corita: The Juiciest Tomato
In Daniel Berrigan's words, Sister Corita is a "witch of invention." And there is no doubt that at least in those tumultuous years of the 1960s, her powers of invention seemed supernatural, if not divine... Corita's work stands for its sheer graphic invention, the riot of letterforms and color, and the immediacy of its connection to her time and place.
Diversity as Form: The Yale Architecture Posters
Since 1998, Michael Bierut has worked with Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designing more than 40 posters. Mohawk Fine Papers has published a book celebrating this collaboration: Forty Posters for the Yale School of Architecture
Voting & Religion in America: A Slideshow
The reality, contrary to my perception, is that millions vote in religious settings all across the country, casting this important act of citizenry in distinctly non-secular environments.
Dangerous Beauty: The Art of the Shiv
A shiv is a weapon crafted from the limited resources of a prisoner's closed world. Crudely constructed from such things as spoons, shoelaces and upholstery tacks, shivs are about masked utility: it's an innocuous object with improbably toxic intent (whether used to attack others or to protect oneself...).
Variations on a Theme: New York's High Priorities
A half-page weekly feature in New York magazine has become a showcase for some of the world's best graphic designers.
Edward Hopper, Village Person
My friend opened the door to a minimally furnished skylit room. It had a pot-bellied stove, a painter's easel, and photos framed on the wall of a grim man with long legs. The room was the studio of Edward Hopper. (Slide show by Duane Michals.)
Photographs of The Gates by Adam Bartos.