— Michael Bierut is a partner at Pentagram and a simply wonderful writer. In Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport, he takes on the thorny topic of untrained amateurs daring to voice an opinion on graphic design. Thankfully, he doesn’t come to the traditional designerly conclusion that such interlopers clearly don’t get it, but instead offers a nuanced argument and a call to action for design professionals to step up and do a part of the job they too often don’t consider or relish. As he writes, “perhaps the question in these logo discussions could be more than: could I do better? Perhaps we could also ask: what was the purpose? What was the process? Whose ends were being served? How should we judge success? But we seldom look any deeper than first impressions, wallowing instead in a churning maelstrom of snap judgments. Should we be surprised when the general public jumps right in after us?” Important questions, all.
— If you haven’t yet read the book By Design: Why There Are No Locks On The Bathroom Doors In The Hotel Louis XIV And Other Object Lessons, then consider this the most exuberant recommendation ever. It’s a classic from 1982 (reissued in 2005) by Ralph Caplan, a god among design writers, who mastered the art of wry insight both as editor of I.D. magazine (RIP) and as a thoughtful commentator on design throughout the last many years. He’s still writing, and Running Out Of Running Time, his latest, shows he is as sharp and thoughtful as ever. We all talk a lot about the need for filters and curators and editors yada yada. Yet I hadn’t thought about the issue in the terms Caplan details above, which I found to be an incredibly helpful framing.