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Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design
Michael Bierut

ISBN 9781568986999
Publication date 7/1/2007
6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm), Hardcover
272 pages
Rights: World; Carton qty: 20; (272.0)

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"It's not hard to see why innovation is becoming the design world's favorite euphemism. Design sounds cosmetic and ephemeral; innovation sounds energetic and essential. Design conjures images of androgynous figures in black turtlenecks wielding clove cigarettes; innovators are forthright fellows with their shirtsleeves rolled up, covering whiteboards with vigorous magicmarkered diagrams, arrows pointing to words like 'Results!' But best of all, the cult of innovation neatly sidesteps the problem that has befuddled the business case for design from the beginning. Thomas Watson, Jr.'s famous dictum 'good design is good business' implies that there's good design and there's bad design; what he doesn't reveal is how to reliably tell one from the other. Neither has anyone else. It's taken for granted that innovation, however, is always good.'--From Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design

Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design brings together the best of designer Michael Bierut's critical writing--serious or humorous, flattering or biting, but always on the mark. Bierut is widely considered the finest observer on design writing today. Covering topics as diverse as Twyla Tharp and ITC Garamond, Bierut's intelligent and accessible texts pull design culture into crisp focus. He touches on classics, like Massimo Vignelli and the cover of The Catcher in the Rye, as well as newcomers, like McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and color-coded terrorism alert levels. Along the way Nabakov's Pale Fire; Eero Saarinen; the paper clip; Celebration, Florida; the planet Saturn; the ClearRx pill bottle; and paper architecture all fall under his pen. His experience as a design practitioner informs his writing and gives it truth. In Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design, designers and nondesigners alike can share and revel in his insights.

Michael Bierut is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Prior to joining Pentagram as a partner in 1990, he was vice president of graphic design at Vignelli Associates.

At Pentagram, Bierut is responsible for leading a team of graphic designers who create identity design, environmental graphic design and editorial design solutions. He has won hundreds of design awards and his work is represented in several permanent collections including: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the Denver Art Museum; the Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany; and the Museum fuer Gestaltung in Zurich, Switzerland.

Bierut has been very active in the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), having served as the president of the New York Chapter from 1988 to 1990 and as the president of AIGA National from 1998 to 2001. He currently serves as a director of the Architectural League of New York and of New Yorkers for Parks. In 1989, Bierut was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale, and in 2003 he was named to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

Bierut is a senior critic in graphic designs at the Yale School of Art and is a co-editor of the anthology series Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design and a cofounder of the online journal Design Observer. His commentaries about graphic design in everyday life can be heard nationally on the Public Radio International program 'studio 360.


Editorial Reviews

"...Essays on such subjects as ITC Garamond or the new corporate buzzword "innovation" poke at sacred cows without lacerating them and walk the tricky line between wise and wiseass..." — Mark Lamster

Our Favorite Books of 2007, Newsday:
"This sampling of the graphic designer's witty, affable contributions to Design Observer, a blog he co-founded in 2003, include meditations on Paul Rand, Ed Ruscha, Moss Hart, Vladimir Nabokov, the Yes Men, Wilson Pickett and much more, suggesting that viewing the world through a design perspective might not be reductive but expansive."

"Short and swift. Michael Bierut hates ITC Garamond, is annoyed by banal ad slogans and considers the design of the legendary New Yorker magazine simply boring. The renowned Pentagram designer and critic calls a spade a spade. As is shown by his 79 essays, some of which are cutting, others humorous or quite serious, addressing all the different aspects of design. Bierut wrote most of the essays originally for the online magazine Design Observer, and each is set in a different font. Recommended reading for students and professionals alike!"

"I was rewarded every time I dipped into this elegant, thoughtful compilation of stand-alone essays."

"His musings will delight and suprise..."

The Approval Matrix, New York Magazine:
"Highbrow and brilliant."

The Atlantic:
"a graphic extravaganza"

STEP Inside Design:
"Topics range from design-related discourses on how to become famous or deal with a client to art, economics, history, war, politics and books. Even the redesigned Food Pyramid gets a section. Regardless of the topic, Bierut's sometimes-bemused voice and piercing intelligence illuminate the central role of design in our lives."

Photography Annual:
"Bierut looks at ordinary circumstances of design that have the ability to create extraordinary consequences in life." — R.H.

"In this lively collection of previously published essays, Michael Bierut provides a compulsively readable guide to all things design. While fonts and logos receive their expected due, so too do Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal, treadmill tripping, and enormous wild geese."

Dynamic Graphics:
"Author Michael Bierut admits that the pieces in Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design aren't just about design. If he can't get interested in a topic, he says, there's little chance he'll do justice to a project when trying to get creative. And so this collection of essays explores Beirut's musings on everything from Betty Boop to the AT&T/SBC communications merger. But his essays do tie into design, as Beirut notes, 'Not everything is design. But design is everything.'"

Holiday Gift Guide, Dwell Magazine:
"A very well written, witty book that should find its way into any truly nerdy Dwell readers bathroom." — Sam Grawe

Very Short List:
"This book is an excellent introduction to a world where almost everything can be seen in terms of design. Bierut, a co-founder of the Design Observer group blog and a partner at Pentagram, entertainingly writes about architects as easily as he does about Nabokov and National Lampoon."
"A very well written, witty book that should find its way into any truly nerdy Dwell readers bathroom." — Sam Grawe, Editor-in-Chief

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