Mr. Peel

I’ve often seen and heard Joe Ades pitching his peelers in Union Square, New York. In his demonstratively melodious English accent, he was tireless when it came to repeating the same lines about his beloved product, minute after minute, hour after hour, six days a week, rain or shine. The last time I saw him, before his death last week at age 75, he was arguing with a local merchant who refused to sell him carrots at a discount. In addition to potatoes, he peeled dozens of carrots during his pitch sessions, yet his carrot peelings were always neatly piled on his cutting board.
    Mr. Ades was one of those classic New York characters–Moondog of veggies–who had a backstory that would fill a novella. He may be the only street pitchman wearing $1,000 suits and living in a luxurious apartment on the Upper East Side. (Read more here and here and here.)
    So, what does he have to do with graphic design? Everything and nothing. I often thought as I listened to his performance, “Now, this is how to sell design” (see an amazing video here). He will be missed.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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