Design as Dictator

Is it time to put away the apps and leave a bit more to chance?   Illustration by Philipp Hubert A few months ago, I arranged to meet a designer friend to go to an art opening. Neither of us …

The Complex Bonds Between Design and Surrealism

  This article appears in the August issue of Print.     I have my former English teacher, Mr. Taylor, to thank for my interest in surrealism. During one class, he described Salvador Dalí’s 1931 painting The Persistence of Memory, …

The Missing Critical History of Illustration

  How seriously should we take illustration? I pose the question in this potentially offensive way because I often wonder how seriously illustration takes itself.      Let me say at once that I have always gained a lot of …

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: Sexy Nextness

There was a time when I was obsessed with the new. The most obvious reason for this is that all journalists are obsessed with what’s new(s). That’s our job. It doesn’t matter how great today’s story is; tomorrow there must …

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 …