Michael Bierut needs no introduction. As a partner at Pentagram since 1990, he’s worked on projects ranging from logos and environmental signage systems, books and packaging for clients including Verizon, The New York Times, MIT Media Lab, and Hillary Clinton. But Michael is also a prolific writer, having co-founded Design Observer in 2003 and co-edited the Looking Closer series, so in this episode, I talk with Michael about that writing. We talk about the origins of Design Observer, how he started writing, and how the public’s growing awareness of graphic design has changed the discourse.
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Nikil Saval is a writer, editor, activist, and the newly elected Pennsylvania state senator. He was previously a co-editor of n+1 and wrote about design, architecture, and urbanism for The New Yorker and The New York Times. In this episode, recorded right before the election, Jarrett and Nikil talk about the intersection of design and politics, how writing and editing are similar to legislating, and how design is a container for many of his intellectual interests.
Alicia Cheng is a founding partner of the New York design studio MGMT and the author of the book This Is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot. She previously worked as a designer for Method, was a co-design director at the Cooper Hewitt, and is currently an external critic for the MFA program at RISD. In this episode, Jarrett and Alicia talk about how the design of ballots can teach us about the United States’s uneasy relationship with voting, mixing design history with American history, and how research feeds her design practice.
Kyle Chayka writes about art, technology, design, and the systems that shape culture. His first book, The Longing for Less, is a cultural history of minimalism that looks at minimalist movements in art, music, and philosophy. In this episode, Jarrett and Kyle talk about how minimalism often obscures complex systems, how all culture writing is also design writing, and the role of structure in his writing process.