Latest Articles in Graphic Design

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
Crap equals good

Crap = Good

This morning I came across a terrific new design blog with a clean, if quirky, aesthetic. Crap = Good is rather a strange name for a blog, and I confess that I can't totally fathom their mission statement. It could be a rough translation into English, or perhaps I'm too far gone from my college days reading abstract philosophy, nodding along in half-comprehension. "In today's over-designed, visual culture," the blog's description reads, "a counter-flow is appearing. With the title 'Crap is good' we name a common thought, and a sence (sic) of aesthetics." I don't know as I can quite parse it, but let me assure you that Crap is indeed good.
May 3, 2011
Pulled by Mike Perry

Pulled by Mike Perry

Illustrator Mike Perry has long been a favorite at Dwell (just take a glance at his long list of contributions to the magazine). In his new book, Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing, Perry opens the page to other screen artists in this survey of more than 40 contemporary screen printers. Here, we take a peek inside 256-page coffee table topper, out next month.
April 26, 2011
mike horn pangaea

Friday Finds 4.22.11

We have the great perk at Dwell to spend our days entrenched in the world of design. In this installment of Friday Finds, have a look at a handful of the things that caught our attention over the last few days: reissued movie posters from the 1980s, lo-fi design, cheerful penguins, and "Survivorman meets Jacques Cousteau." Plus, a special hello to our neighbors in the building across the street, who were an officewide favorite this week.
April 22, 2011
sustainism thumb

"Sustainism": the New Modernism?

Honestly, when the book Sustainism is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era (D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers, New York) first crossed my desk, I wasn't sure how to react. The book's graphic aesthetic was a bit cluttered but the concept of the book was intriguing—the authors Michiel Schwarz and Joost Elffers propose that "Sustainism" (a term they've coined to describe a new cultural movement related to sustainability)—is the "new ecology of our networked world." "Sustainism in the twenty-first century will be what Modernism was in the last," the authors state. It's "the confluence of globalization, the web, climate change, localism, media democracy, open source, environmentalism, and more," and "a collective worldview that stresses the interdependence among cultural and natural environments." The rallying cry is "do more with less"—in contrast to Modernism's ubiquitous "less is more." Here, Schwarz and Elffers talk about Sustainism (the book, and the concept) and why they think it's the way forward.
April 4, 2011
Evergreen Brick Works

Evergreen Brick Works

Toronto's skyline is speckled with bricks from the former Don Valley Brick Works yard. In the 1960s and 70s, the company produced more than 43 million bricks each year. But after business slowed in the 1980s, the yard was forced to shutter its doors and the thus no-longer-maintained, 12-acre site fell into disrepair. Today, however, it's back up and running—though with a new directive—with the help of Canadian nonprofit Evergreen. Renamed Evergreen Brick Works, the site is designed to be a community, environmental space where sustainable businesses can establish themselves and grow; artists can work; and locals can come to explore the site, take a walk, ice skate, buy local produce at the farmers' market, and meander around the 16 buildings being rehabilitated. Here we take you along on our recent walk through the site.  
April 4, 2011
Graphic Design on the Radio Shaughnessy

Graphic Design on the Radio

You may already be a fan of TV on the Radio, but how about Graphic Design on the Radio? Despite having a score of episodes under his belt and being a well known graphic designer and critic, Englishman Adrian Shaughnessy's fine radio show flies a bit under the radar. For we Yanks, we're best off listening online at Graphic Design on the Radio.
March 30, 2011
Hero Business of Design

Hero Design On Making It

Mark Brickey and Beth Manos Brickey started their design careers like many youthful print enthusiasts: making free concert fliers from friends. Since then, however, they've launched a design studio, opened a retail shop to bring people into their brand (think: the Apple store experience at a much smaller scale), and become so busy with design work that they're closing the doors on their store in early April to devote all their time to what they love: making good designs. Here, Mark shares his tale of dropping out of school, having his a-ha moment at SXSW, launching the design studio with Beth, and never looking back.
March 28, 2011