Introduction to the 2007 European Design Annual

A Scotsman, a German, and a Swede walk into a design magazine office—you know how this one goes, don’t you? They judge an invitational competition that includes work from all over Europe, from countries and firms big and small, and …

Good Type Gone Bad

Typefaces don’t come with an instruction manual. Although type designers can produce fonts designated as display types, or package their products with a set of implied hints—the right proportions of the characters for each size—they have little control over their …

Click to Run

—   [An update to this article is appended below. -Ed.]   Every time I go to the SXSW festival, I have interesting discussions with the other designers there about trends in music, movies, and technology. Last March, though, we …

Watch This Space

— When President Clinton appeared—in video!—on my laptop screen in the fall of 1998, his index finger jabbing at Kenneth Starr, the future arrived with a shock: The news was no longer something you either watched or read. Somehow, the …

Upward Mobility

— My 17-year-old daughter, Alexa, is a typical tech-savvy teenager: When I walk into the living room after a long day at the studio, I’ll find her sitting on the couch with the television on, usually playing a TiVo’d episode …

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 …

Empire State Building

Just as Trajan signifies the Roman Empire, Broadway signifies Art Deco. The typeface—designed by Morris Fuller Benton for American Type Founders in 1927—is authentic, but it has become a cliché, used by numerous landlords to tart up their Art Deco–era …

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 …

The Constant Reader

— Among the legends of computer typography, two stand out. There’s an 18-year-old Steve Jobs stumbling into a calligraphy class at Reed College and learning about serifs and spacing—useless stuff, he thought, until it came time to design the first …