79 Short Essays on Design
Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design brings together the best of designer Michael Bierut's critical writingserious 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.

79 Short Essays on Design Details

Title79 Short Essays on Design
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 31st, 2007
PublisherPrinceton Architectural Press
ISBN1568986998
ISBN-139781568986999
Number of pages240 pages
Rating
GenreDesign, Nonfiction, Writing, Essays, Art, Art Design, Business, Reference, Architecture, Abandoned, Criticism

79 Short Essays on Design Review

  • Michaela
    March 17, 2008
    I really enjoyed most of these essays which have been compiled from Michael Bierut's blogs on http://www.designobserver.com. I love that each is set in a different typeface. i found myself looking to the back of the book each essay to see if i was correctly identifying them. Each one is only a couple pages so if you arent very interested in one of them you can quickly move on to the next. I keep this book on my desk at work for quick amusement and enlightenment. Absolutely a great book for any d I really enjoyed most of these essays which have been compiled from Michael Bierut's blogs on http://www.designobserver.com. I love that each is set in a different typeface. i found myself looking to the back of the book each essay to see if i was correctly identifying them. Each one is only a couple pages so if you arent very interested in one of them you can quickly move on to the next. I keep this book on my desk at work for quick amusement and enlightenment. Absolutely a great book for any designer.
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  • kkurtz
    August 31, 2007
    Don't let the title fool you. This book could just as easily be called 'Seventy-nine Short Essays on Life'. Michael Bierut is a designer & co-founder of the blog Design Observer, where the majority of these essays were culled. Like that blog, this book touches on just as many non-design aspects of life. That is until the reader realizes how much design we actually do come in contact with on a daily basis. The lead essay, 'Warning: May Contain Non-Design Content' sets you up for what is in st Don't let the title fool you. This book could just as easily be called 'Seventy-nine Short Essays on Life'. Michael Bierut is a designer & co-founder of the blog Design Observer, where the majority of these essays were culled. Like that blog, this book touches on just as many non-design aspects of life. That is until the reader realizes how much design we actually do come in contact with on a daily basis. The lead essay, 'Warning: May Contain Non-Design Content' sets you up for what is in store. The following seventy-eight wonderfully written & engaging pieces cover such a dizzying array of topics (simply peruse the table of contents on the cover to wet your appetite), that you might just forget you are reading a book on design.
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  • Leila
    January 27, 2008
    Michael Bierut is one of the few famous graphic designers who is also a genuinely nice guy. And one of the best critics, I've ever had. I spent the whole time reading this book, smiling and nodding, laughing to myself and thinking, "Yes! Thank you for saying that!" I recommend it to everyone I know who is not a graphic designer so they'll know what all us designers are nodding and laughing about.Plus, every essay is set in a different typeface.
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  • Marjolein
    November 18, 2014
    Not all articles were relevant to me but it was still a good and interesting read!
  • Steven
    September 22, 2011
    The majority of what's collected in this book are reviews, but they sometimes read like essays. Because of this, Bierut's writing refers to controversies and hot topics at the time and they occasionally show their flaws in the light of the passing years. Some are remembrances of influential designers, artists, photographers, and creative persons who have recently passed away and played some role in shaping Bierut's life. But the best work comes in the form of the more recognizable essays, that i The majority of what's collected in this book are reviews, but they sometimes read like essays. Because of this, Bierut's writing refers to controversies and hot topics at the time and they occasionally show their flaws in the light of the passing years. Some are remembrances of influential designers, artists, photographers, and creative persons who have recently passed away and played some role in shaping Bierut's life. But the best work comes in the form of the more recognizable essays, that is, the writings that transcend time while capturing it. A shining example of Bierut's congruent power of writing as a designer can be seen in "On (Design) Bullshit." Bierut recounts one of the major confrontations between architect Richard Meier and artist Robert Irwin in the 1997 documentary, "Concert of Wills," which chronicles the construction of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He finishes the piece with an example from his years working as a designer with Massimo Vignelli. What is evident in reading these 79 articles is that designers are influenced by any and everything, even falling off a treadmill at the gym.Given that this is a book on design written by a notable designer (Bierut is a partner in renowned international design agency Pentagram), the content and how it is packaged are presented in a clever manner: each article is presented in a different typeface, most of which is connected to or referenced in the article. (See "I Hate ITC Garamond.")
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  • Jaireh
    June 5, 2009
    Though most of the articles hover between snobby graphic designer insider banter and thoughts on kerning, grids, Massimo Vignelli's preferences for writing implements, gossip between different graphic design camps and movements, there are about five articles that save this book: a) the essay on bullshit wherein Beirut admits openly that a lot of work that involve creativity and aesthetics involve a creative leap (all of which are counter to whatever rationale aka bullshit you'll have to come up Though most of the articles hover between snobby graphic designer insider banter and thoughts on kerning, grids, Massimo Vignelli's preferences for writing implements, gossip between different graphic design camps and movements, there are about five articles that save this book: a) the essay on bullshit wherein Beirut admits openly that a lot of work that involve creativity and aesthetics involve a creative leap (all of which are counter to whatever rationale aka bullshit you'll have to come up with to justify your decisionsb) the coverage of the early days of Tibor Kalman where he argues that graphic designers (or all applied artists)'s main purpose should be to create trouble and I quote," Were not here to help clients eradicate everything of visual interest from the face of the earth. We're here to make them think about what's dangerous and unpredictable. We're here to inject art into commerce. We're here to be bad”c) some handwringy article about an a designer's dealing with concepts of "authenticity" -- its awkward and unresolved but I share the same feelings d) a mention of Hitchcokian McGuffins!e) a great article on Josef and Anni Albers retrospective wherein Beirut argues art can be cold and design can be so celebratory of life (who would have thought!)
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  • Salomé Esteves
    March 1, 2016
    To read this book while being a designer is to be faced with two realities: the first is that familiarity you have with some of the stories and, on the other hand, to be confronted with the million of other things you have left to learn. I love Michael Bierut's work as a designer, and, turns out, he can be a good writer too: simple, to the point and with a bit of humour that always makes a good impression when you talk about design. For me, as a designer who is writing a master's project on desi To read this book while being a designer is to be faced with two realities: the first is that familiarity you have with some of the stories and, on the other hand, to be confronted with the million of other things you have left to learn. I love Michael Bierut's work as a designer, and, turns out, he can be a good writer too: simple, to the point and with a bit of humour that always makes a good impression when you talk about design. For me, as a designer who is writing a master's project on design, this was usefull, practical and funny.But I do have a point to make, designways. This book was the hardest to read. I usually read on public transportation on my way to or out of work, which can be hard because of curves, bumps in the road, shadows or traffic. This 79 short essays are set in 79 different typefaces. Although it is theoretically well thought, this makes reading hard. I actually had a couple of headaches due to the constant variation of typefaces in addition to be reading in a moving vehicle. Turns out, reading a three page essay set in futura light italic is not very easy.
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  • Viktoriya Tsoy
    October 14, 2014
    This book was recommended to me by my typography teacher. What I really appreciated from him [teacher] was the way he connected design to life and life to design. Well I guess this recommendation is not surprising because this book does just that. Michael in a brilliant and eye opening way tells a story of life. It's the life most creatives are familiar with - judging your role in society, anxiously working on things that are to be unique and creative and battling stubborn clients. (This book ho This book was recommended to me by my typography teacher. What I really appreciated from him [teacher] was the way he connected design to life and life to design. Well I guess this recommendation is not surprising because this book does just that. Michael in a brilliant and eye opening way tells a story of life. It's the life most creatives are familiar with - judging your role in society, anxiously working on things that are to be unique and creative and battling stubborn clients. (This book however is also very very humorous, the kind of book that both educates and inspires you while making you chuckle at the subtle remarks.) I've learned so much about the design world that I was unaware of, I related and discovered things about both past and present. I now know more about Michael and his road to where he is now, as well as his interests and thoughts. (Creepy, I know, but somehow prideful fact.) Either way, designer or not the book is a great read. It will have you agreeing, laughing and questioning Michael. However you feel about design, you will walk away with a great insight to that world, as well as a deeper understanding of the resin behind our madness.
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  • Annie
    December 28, 2014
    Yes, short essays indeed. Short essays that don't really say much of anything. To me, his book is a waste of time. I was forcing myself to read it hoping it would get better, but couldn't really bring myself to finish it. The fact that it wasn't design heavy wasn't the issue, he warns you he's going to veer off into different topics, hoping to open your eyes to more than design, but that can't really be done in an average of 2 pages with type that constantly changes without the perspective const Yes, short essays indeed. Short essays that don't really say much of anything. To me, his book is a waste of time. I was forcing myself to read it hoping it would get better, but couldn't really bring myself to finish it. The fact that it wasn't design heavy wasn't the issue, he warns you he's going to veer off into different topics, hoping to open your eyes to more than design, but that can't really be done in an average of 2 pages with type that constantly changes without the perspective constantly changing. Design doesn't have to be obvious, especially when we're trying to read. The looking closer series are better. Maybe I will pick this up when I want to give it another chance, or when I have nothing better to read.
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  • Chris
    May 1, 2011
    Before: I've wanted to read this since it came out, but it's not available at our library and I kept putting off purchasing it. This week the e-book was marked down to just a few dollars so I finally have it in my hands! I hope the layout doesn't suffer from the e-book format, but the content should be great regardless.After: The design didn't suffer at all. From what I could tell by looking up the paper version online, the two are very similar. There aren't any images in the book, and it was fu Before: I've wanted to read this since it came out, but it's not available at our library and I kept putting off purchasing it. This week the e-book was marked down to just a few dollars so I finally have it in my hands! I hope the layout doesn't suffer from the e-book format, but the content should be great regardless.After: The design didn't suffer at all. From what I could tell by looking up the paper version online, the two are very similar. There aren't any images in the book, and it was fun to test my memory of typefaces or iconic images as I was reading. I really enjoyed the essays and learned a bit along the way. The last one had me laughing out loud in a waiting room.
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  • Andrea
    February 24, 2012
    A collection of very short (2-4 page) essays on design ~ mostly graphic design, but also the culture of design, designers, advertising, architecture, and life in general. Bierut, of Pentagram and Design Observer fame, astutely notes that design is about life, not just typography and style. I'll admit I skimmed a few of the essays, as some caught my eye more than others. The book itself is a visual pun, with each essay in a different font. Good observations. Could make a nice gift for the right d A collection of very short (2-4 page) essays on design ~ mostly graphic design, but also the culture of design, designers, advertising, architecture, and life in general. Bierut, of Pentagram and Design Observer fame, astutely notes that design is about life, not just typography and style. I'll admit I skimmed a few of the essays, as some caught my eye more than others. The book itself is a visual pun, with each essay in a different font. Good observations. Could make a nice gift for the right design-critical friend.
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  • jonathan berger
    October 24, 2007
    Good clean fun. Beirut may be a little eager to fall in line with the establishment, but that's kind of refreshing in an industry glutted with self-congratulatory nonconformists and wannabe revolutionaries. He's a talented writer, and has a nice way of drawing substantial connections or narrative arcs in two- and three-page pieces. Also, the gimmick of the book--79 typefaces for 79 articles--works surprisingly well.
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  • Ramon de Santiago
    September 8, 2010
    Most of the essays were worth putting up with some of the lesser ones. After all, this is a compilation of blog postings (mostly) so some of the chapters are very, very short and come off as "throw-away." The book is invaluable as a collection of type specimens; each of the 79 chapters is set in a different typeface, so you can see how each face performs and behaves within the layout design of the book. Pretty cool.
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  • Laura
    January 15, 2013
    Michael Bierut's collection of essays provided an interesting peek into the mind of one of the most renowned graphic designers, but I often found the writing pedantic and slightly mediocre. It did, however, affirm my hope that design involves a lively intellectual and historically-based discourse. For the breadth of subjects broached, it was still a worthwhile read!
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  • Suzie Hunt
    November 19, 2016
    The essays were interesting (if ad-hoc -- there was no sense of organisation or theme, instead it just felt like reading a blog with a selection of random but interesting posts) but the kindle version had no images and when reading an essay about a particular design or designer or building... you really do want to see it!
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  • Geoff
    March 16, 2013
    Very, very short pieces written for a graphic design audience. Wide ranging (Wilson Pickett?) & interesting, but too short. most essays left me wanting either more info or more than a surface treatment.
  • Jeff
    August 19, 2010
    Collection of 2-4 page essays about design with a focus on graphic design. Took me about a year to read this, picking it up when I needed something to tire my eyes at the end of the day and didn't have a new magazine next to the bed. Some nights it was harder to put down than others.
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  • Matt Stolze
    April 16, 2010
    so far, so good. Definitely not like design books i had to read in college, which is a good thing.
  • Kosh Koshover
    March 12, 2009
    mostly interesting book, enjoyed the articles pertaining to design, didn't care for the few side motifs.
  • Brynn
    November 10, 2010
    "Graphic design is the fiction that anticipates the fact." (168)"But we travel through time every day of our lives. It's simply at a pace too slow to notice." (203)
  • Nicole
    November 29, 2010
    This was great!
  • Widgets &
    September 26, 2011
    Nice collection of essays by the witty and thoughtful Michael Beirut. Great insights into lots of topics, but also a good deal about design.
  • Jaqi
    February 1, 2013
    Enjoyable collection of essays on design, ranging from typography to album covers, buildings and beyond.
  • Debby Debryana
    June 8, 2016
    It's not only about design; it's also about life.
  • Chris
    March 3, 2008
    A fairly humorous look at the design profession and its clichés.
  • James
    July 21, 2012
    A fantastic look into the design process from one of the industry's most respected current leaders. I re-read this every so often to reaffirm my career choice.
  • Craig Thompson
    June 9, 2016
    Very good book for learning some of the hard to grasp culture and decision making that some of the best designers use.
  • Darren Hoyt
    May 23, 2008
    Fun, insightful essay collection about designers, design trends, and the role of design in our everyday lives.
  • Emily Weigel
    November 23, 2011
    Great insight into the thoughts of designers who have made major contributions.
  • Michael
    November 29, 2011
    Pretty good!
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