Design Criticism

The Dark Side of Disney

La Luz de Jesus Gallery, LA’s most influential contemporary art space, opens today with a Disney the kids have never seen. Torn from the headlines, Disasterland is the Mexican artist Rodolfo Loaiza‘s tribute to pop culture, fashion, animation, horror films, and the undeniable attraction of celebrity. Fantasy surrenders to the inevitable apocalypse of 21st-century...

Digital Publishing Worrying You? Read This . . .

W. A. Dwiggins (1880–1956), the man who more or less gave us the term “graphic design,” had a biting wit, best expressed through his writing. He slyly and directly advocated the marked improvement in book design during the 1920s and 1930s and wrote much on the graphic arts, notably essays collected in MSS by...

Toxic Nostalgia

“I LOATHE nostalgia!” The provocative opening sentence of the legendary magazine editor Diana Vreeland’s 1984 memoir, D.V., would find few supporters today—as a culture, we currently ADORE nostalgia. Design, from I.D. and the digital world to graphics and architecture, is drowning in it. Every era has borrowed and repurposed visuals from previous times, but...

Russian Constructive Criticism

From September 4–22, the School of Visual Arts will present Russia Rising: Votes for Freedom  / 30 Artists and Designers Challenge the 2011 and 2012 Russian Elections, an exhibition responding to recent political turmoil in Russia through the language of the poster. The original posters were created in support of the popular Russian movement for...

The Sweet Spot for Protest

Dissent is one of American’s most dearly valued constitutional rights. And protest is one of the most common spectator sports. The latest protest to make its mark in New York City is aimed at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fight against sugar-laced drinks—the kind that foster obesity when regularly consumed. The city’s health committee hearing to...

Brave New World Revisited Once More for Good Measure

Aldous Huxley’s 1958 Brave New World Revisited is arguably one of the most prescient cautionary books on the present and future of propaganda and manipulation—if also an unintended handbook for some on how to manipulate our minds. I wrote about and quoted from it over a year ago, here. But now that the campaign...

Egmont Arens: Ever Hear of Him?

Recently, A&P’s house blend, Eight O’Clock Ground Coffee, got a packaging face-lift. Actually, it was a crowdsourced makeover “sweepstakes” that started in 2009 and had a curious temporary result (see here and here).  I was talking to Russell Flinchum, an author and researcher on industrial design and designers, including Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Designer: The Man in...

Type-Land Security

Type designs, like most intellectual property, are subject to pirating. Alter a nuance, change a counter, give the type a slightly different name, and voila!—a new face on an old body. In 1966, the typographer, printer, and historian of printing and type John Dreyfus (1918–2002) wrote a report titled The Association Typographique Internationale and...

Design Entrepreneur 101: Vit and Gomez-Palacio at HOW Design Live

If you want to have an “Alternative Design Career”—run your own studio, do your own thing, call all the shots—you’ve got to have chutzpah. And if anyone can teach you about that particular aspect of the design endeavor, it’s Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, who will be speaking on the subject at the HOW...

Evergreen: The Glossy of the Underground

This past February, the iconoclast publisher Barney Rosset died at the age of 89. Rosset was the publisher of Grove Press from 1951 until 1985. He published D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in its first unexpurgated U.S. edition in 1957, and in 1964 he published Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer in its original uncensored...