Author Archives: Ellen Lupton

About Ellen Lupton

Ellen Lupton is the curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and director of the graphic design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art.

The Oscars of Type

Assaulted with ceaseless buzz about the Academy Awards, I can’t help wishing that a well-wrought typeface could attract as much attention as a 90-minute film. Various type blogs and font foundries released their own best-of lists at the end of 2009. I sifted through them and cast my own votes. Each of the selections...

Before Design Thinking

  First published in 1972, The Universal Traveler is a mad masterpiece of D.I.Y. hippie culture that deserves its place in history next to the Last Whole Earth Catalog. This quirky guide to the design process was created long before “design thinking” became a buzzword among business-oriented designers. Authors Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall...

Typography on the Web: Questions for Jeffrey Zeldman—Part 2

 This is the second in a two-part interview [part 1 is here] with Jeffrey Zeldman.   The basic conundrum for web typography revolves around the seemingly contradictory needs of users and designers. Users need the ability to re-size text on demand. Designers need the ability to create designs with predictable results in different browsers...

Typography on the Web: Questions for Jeffrey Zeldman—Part 1

  Ellen Lupton’s conversation with Jeffrey Zeldman will appear in two parts. The second part is now available here.   Remember when the only typefaces you could use on a website were Georgia, Verdana, Helvetica, and a few others? We are now on the verge of a new age of typographic diversity. Jeffrey Zeldman,...

Typography in the 1990s

How quickly “now” becomes “then.” A few weeks ago, I was looking for examples of experimental typography to show to my MFA students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). I pulled a book off the shelf called Typography Now Two: Implosion, edited by Rick Poynor in 1996. Twelve years later, Typography Now...

Type Hunger

I’ve been noticing that many of the images that get tagged or labeled “type” on design-watch web sites such as welovetypography.com and sharesomecandy.com are actually some form of lettering. Many of these works are exquisitely crafted alphabetic confections, while others are more about letting loose one’s inner sixth-grader. There is some spectacular artistry out...