About Ellen Shapiro

Print contributing editor Ellen Shapiro is principal of Visual Language LLC in Irvington, NY. She has been designing for her whole life and writing about design for more than 20 years. She blogs about design, gardens, food and travel at dig-it-blog.com

La Dolce Vita, Domani

I got to my local Target store at the Palisades Mall in Nyack, NY, just before 11:00 a.m. yesterday morning to check out the limited-time Missoni collection on opening day. I was three hours too late. Every shelf and rack …

Increasing the Happiness Quotient

What makes you happy? Is it how much money you make, who your partner is, your clothes or car? What makes you unhappy? Is it the weather, your too-small apartment, things your partner does (or the fact that you don’t …

Their Slogan is We (Heart) Technology and Design

Where do technology and design intersect? Increasing numbers of people say on Broadway between 20th and 21st Streets. I first read about General Assembly in a column buried on an inside page of the New York Times’ real estate section. …

Enduring Symbols

There was a line—a line snaking down the block. More than 300 people waited in the rain for half an hour on Wednesday evening for Tishman Auditorium to open so they could get a seat at an AIGA/NY event. About …

Taking (Some of) the Mystery Out of The East

So my son is getting married. In Bejing. To a charming young Chinese woman. And I’m designing the invitations. The first place I turned to for inspiration was my Longman Chinese-English Visual Dictionary of Chinese Culture, an essential reference tool …

Art Brut: An Inside Look at "Outsider Art"

It was found in attics and closets. It was drawn on ledger pages at turn-of-the-century mental institutions, made at tables in day treatment centers, and put together after a day’s work at the factory from junk scavenged from dumpsters. It’s …

Soda Bottle Island

Other people build houses on land. Richart Sowa, a carpenter and former British rock-band guitarist, has designed and constructed a whole island. This self-sustaining environment for living, about 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter, floats just off Isla Mujeres, Mexico, …

The End of Print? Not So at This One-Man Recycling Studio

It is estimated that the average worldwide per-capita use of paper is 110 pounds per person per year. On Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, a laid-back Caribbean island off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula—best known for good snorkeling and for …

Say Yes To The Dress

I remember the professor in Art History 102 at UCLA pointing to the slide in the darkened lecture hall, telling the students that the painting was satire. She pointed out the relatively huge sizes of the dog and the dwarfs—the …