Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: 79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut

79 Short Essays on Design
79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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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Sunday, October 2, 2011