Latest Articles in Graphic Design

Design-inspired non-existant books to read by the beach

Beach Reading

Looking for a little light literature to while away the hours? We suggest a quartet of (fictional) titles for the design minded.
June 14, 2011
LACMA Monarch Bay

LACMA: California Design

As you might imagine, we inveterate modernists up here at Dwell are very, very excited for what will be one of the fall's best forays into modern design. On October 1, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is launching California Design 1930-1965: "Living in a Modern Way" which takes a good long look at how Californian design in the middle of the 20th century helped shape American material culture. I'm so thrilled to be talking with two of the shows curators Bobbye Tigerman and Wendy Kaplan at Dwell on Design on Friday June 24th to learn more about their research. But here's a sneak preview of 13 of the over 300 objects that will make up the show. Click on!
June 9, 2011
stedelijk posters 1

Stedelijk Museum Posters

Upon entering the bright white interior of Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, a series of floor-to-ceiling posters that once advertised past exhibitions greets visitors. It's a striking display that shows how the musem has promoted itself, and its shows, to the public since opening in 1895. Though there are a wide variety of designers and artists represented, those who helmed the Stedelijk as director—including Willem Sandberg from 1945 to 1962—and who were in charge of printed matter—like Wim Crouwel from 1963 to 1984—especially helped to create a strong visual identity for the cultural institution. The building itself is in the process of expanding with an expected grand opening date late next year, and until a climitization system is built in, only pieces that are not damaged easily are able to be shown. As such, these are all individual repreductions of the originals, which are in the permanent collection. Unfortunately, there are no prints for sale (although I'm sure they could make a killing), but I've snapped a few of my favorites here. Click on through to the slideshow for a taste of graphic design through the ages.
June 1, 2011
milton glaser portrait1

An Afternoon with Milton Glaser

Meeting design legend Milton Glaser was one of those classic moments that can only happen in New York City. I was having lunch with Alan Heller—the man behind the furniture manufacturing company Heller Inc.—when he scribbled Milton Glaser's number on a napkin, insisting I meet him. I called Milton the next day, and in turn, he invited me to his studio on East 32nd Street in Manhattan. I spent a few hours talking about history, both Milton's and New York's in equal measure, and parts of that special day are captured below.
May 26, 2011
Knoll Textiles 1945 2010 exhibit

Behind the Scenes: Knoll Textiles

Many a modern-design enthusiast can spot a Cesca side chair and say it was designed by Marcel Breuer. But, were it upholstered in Digit fabric, few could name the textile designer. (Answer: Suzanne Tick.) The new exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center titled Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010 features Knoll's original fabrics and textiles. The project began four years ago when Knoll approached Bard to do an exhibit. Soon thereafter, the curatorial team was created, comprising of Earl Martin, the associate curator at the Bard Graduate Center; Angela Völker, the curator emeritus of textiles at the MAK in Vienna; Susan Ward, an independent textile historian, and Paul Makovsky, the editorial director of Metropolis and a Florence Knoll expert. After years digging through existing archives and searching through former Knoll employees' attics to put together a comprehensive history and catalogue of KnollTextiles works, the exhibit is finally on display. Here, Madovsky takes us behind the scene and shares went into creating the show and shares stories about a number of the pieces on display.  
May 26, 2011
ff 52011

Friday Finds 5.20.11

Whenever I played with Lego sets, there was inevitably a missing piece. Jaime stumbled upon a shop in Santa Cruz, CA, that I wish existed when I was a youngster: a place where replacement blocks can easily be purchased. If Legos aren't your speed, check out Miyoko's find, The Burning House, a blog featuring objects people would take with them if their house was burning. The picks range from the practical (passports and spectacles) to nostalgic (a collection of vintage Oscar Wilde books) to quirky (a Bumblebee Transformer). A quick poll around the Dwell office revealed that pets would be the number one thing saved. What would you bring? Family photographs? An heirloom design object? Leave your "saves" in the comment section—we'd love to know.
May 20, 2011
Bostwick and Rymill began making beer in the spring of 2009 with the help of a homebrew kit. Their first batch, however, exploded—glass bottles and all—in their living room. After six months of troubleshooting and experimenting as hobbyists, they hunkered

Beer Craft: A Guide to Homebrew

William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill's new book Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer is like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything—just for homebrew hobbyists. In the book, the writer-designer duo outlines the basic steps of brewing then give you all the information you need to improvise and make each batch your own. Unlike the homebrew books that have come before, Beer Craft is designed for folks like Bostwick and Rymill: urban DIYers living in small, city apartments. "Most books are written for making five gallons at a time, which is a lot" Bostwick says. "Our book focuses on small, one-gallon batches you can easily make on your stove."
May 19, 2011
Matter New Haven Train

Matter: Logo Evolution

In our May issue I wrote about the undersung Swiss mid-century modernist Herbert Matter, a graphic designer and photographer who left his mark on Vogue Magazine, Knoll furniture, Yale University, and a host of other cultural institutions. Check out the story here to learn more and for those of you who love to watch a creative process unfold, watch this two-minute video of the scores of logo sketches Matter went through to arrive at the insignia for the New Haven Railroad. Your favorite may well not be the one that made the eventual cut. Mine comes at the 1:34 mark.
May 9, 2011
Vintage photo of Herbert Matter

Printed Matter

Considering his cache of bold-faced employers, the Swiss-born graphic designer and photographer Herbert Matter (1907–1984) should loom larger in the mid-century design canon than he does. His clients included Knoll (he was a design consultant on their ads, logos, and catalogs from 1946 to 1966) the Eames Office, Le Corbusier, and Yale University, where he taught photography and graphic design. His friends, luminaries of the art world, often became subjects of his work.  He photographed Jackson Pollock on Long Island weekends, shot a film for MoMA about Alexander Calder, and made a decades-long pictoral study of fellow Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. In the mid-1930s Matter made a quick name for himself as a graphic designer with a set of bold, avant-garde-inspired travel posters for the Swiss National Tourist Office. His deft use of angular photography and collage presaged what would become a life-long fascination with the camera. His interdisciplinary 50-year career included magazine covers for Condé Nast, communication design for the U.S. government, and the graphic identity for the New Haven Railroad. Herbert Matter warrants a second look—here’s ours.
May 5, 2011