Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design is the latest collection of writings by Michael Bierut of Pentagram, and published by Princeton Architectural Press on 29th February 2012.
The book is a 272-page hardcover publication which comprises of two decades of essays ranging from “New York’s faulty “Push for Walk Signal” buttons, to the disappearance of the AT&T logo, to the implications of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire for interaction designers” (via Pentagram). The book is described by cultural website A Very Short List as “Consisting of pop-culturally savvy pieces that run just two or three pages”.
Many of the essays are re-purposed from the blog Design Observer, a weblog edited by Bierut alongside Jessica Helfand and Bill Drenttel and includes popular pieces such as “Designing Under the Influence,” “I Hate ITC Garamond,” and “The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation!”. It also includes writings that have appeared elsewhere, and new, previously unseen, material. The subjects covered are as diverse as “Twyla Tharp and ITC Garamond, Bierut’s intelligent and accessible texts pull design culture into crisp focus” (via Amazon).
The book does not have illustrations, but instead each essay is treated differently typographically by the book’s designer Abbott Miller (also a partner at Pentagram), and each essay is laid out using a font relating to the story in some way.
Author Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, graduating in 1980. He joined Pentagram in 1990 as a partner in the firm’s New York office, having previously worked for ten years at Vignelli Associates as vice president of graphic design. His illustrious client list at Pentagram has included the Alliance for Downtown New York, Benetton, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Alfred A. Knopf, the Walt Disney Company, Mohawk Paper Mills, Motorola, MillerCoors, the Toy Industry Association, Princeton University, Yale School of Architecture, New York University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Sex, and the New York Jets. More recently he designed and developed environmental graphics for The New York Times Building and undertook the redesign of the magazine The Atlantic.
The recipient of many design awards throughout his career, Beirut’s work is on show in permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, and is currently a director of the Architectural League of New York and of New Yorkers for Parks.
Bierut is also a Senior Critic in Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art., co-editor of Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, published by Allworth Press, alongside his role as co-founder and editor of Design Observer.
Michael is aware that “Design books are luxuries, especially for students,” and hopes that this latest edition “provides something for everyone, at a price that anyone can afford.” New York designer and design blogger Swiss Miss (aka Tina Roth Eisenburg) mentions the new book on her blog, saying “Michael is not only an incredibly talented designer but also able to so eloquently and humorously talk about his work.”