Observer: We need more galleries that exhibit graphic design

  Exhibition showing the work of James Joyce at Kemistry Gallery, London   On the rare occasions that an exhibition of graphic design appears, it’s a safe bet that one complaint will always be heard. Graphic design, someone will say, …

Observer: Melt in Your Mouth

Robert Opie’s obsession with packaging began as a teenager, and he remembers the exact day—September 8, 1963—as well as the reason. He was traveling in Scotland and bought a pack of Mackintosh’s Munchies, a chocolate-covered sweet with a caramel and …

Observer: The Life of the Seoul

In the summer of 2008, I was invited to give a week of lectures to a design class in South Korea. Several students were scheduled to make brief presentations at the end of the week on subjects they had been …

Observer: Perfect Ten (Or Twelve)

To a certain cast of mind—a cast shared by many designers—lists of preferences are fascinating. Lists offer information in its most elemental form. There is no explicit linkage between the items, no explanation or opinion. Everything comes down to selection …

Observer: Critical Omissions

  The term “critical design” has been gaining currency in design circles for several years, and in 2007, it went public in the titles of three imaginative exhibitions. Two of these shows, in the U.K. and Belgium, dealt with three-dimensional …

Observer: Paper Trails

I was traveling back to London from the French region of Provence when I saw the posters. The Eurostar train leaves from Avignon; I had some time to kill before its departure, so I left the bags at the station …

Observer: Encyclopedia Erratica

  “One of the key features of graphic design is it involves selecting the appropriate image making tools out of it’s ability to generate meaning rather than preference.” You probably had to read that sentence twice, and even if you …

Observer: Not Dead Yet

For a medium that is regularly pronounced to be living on borrowed time, the magazine seems to be in a surprisingly perky state of health. If you took the industry’s temperature by scanning the racks in Borders, you might find …

Observer: Strained Relations

The French curator and writer Nicolas Bourriaud’s book Relational Aesthetics is the most influential work of art criticism to appear in the past decade. First published in 1998 and translated into English in 2002, it’s a fashionable art-world bestseller that …

Observer: Warm Regards

As I write this in October, there are strong reasons to think that we have arrived at the tipping point of global awareness about climate change and the need to act as a matter of urgency. A recent BBC World …