“I always quote a guy called Lewis Hyde who wrote about primitive cultures where there’s an exchange of gifts that cannot be kept but have to be passed on. And the passing on of gifts is a device to prevent people from killing one another, because they all become part of a single experience. And [Hyde’s] leap of imagination occurs when he says this is what artists do. Artists provide that gift to the culture, so that people have something in common. And I think that all of us who identify with the role of artists in history want our work to serve that purpose. Certainly as much as we want to work to sell product. (Although not everybody feels the same way.)” Milton Glaser, from this wonderful short film by Hillman Curtis from a few years ago. I never knew Glaser had read Hyde when I compared his thinking on design ethics to Hyde’s book in my essay “Form-giving,” but of course now it makes perfect sense why the two are so beautifully in sync. Perhaps an even bigger coincidence is that I just happened to stop by Glaser’s office the day Hillman Curtis was shooting there, and you see me for a moment in the film as I shake Glaser’s hand just after he finishes saying this quote.
We’ve got two very special events coming up for AIGA/NY. First, on 11/11, Michael Rock (2x4), Elizabeth Diller (Diller Scofidio + Renfro), and Jake Barton (Local Projects) are in conversation at FIT. After that, on 11/20, we’ve got legendary designer/publisher for an intimate evening Lars Müller at Bumble & Bumble. Both are not to be missed—hope to see you there.
Need a last-minute Halloween costume? You can always go as designer extraordinaire Wolfgang Weingart.
Above: The same post, before and after. Before, the post’s title was on-grid, but it did not align with either the left-hand margin or the descriptive header above. Now, metadata has been moved to the bottom of the post so the title can align properly. Yellow highlighting has been added to increase emphasis on the title and also to help direct readers that they are not on the homepage but on a sub-level post. The double header bars have been replaced with a single underline. Also, the three vertical links from version 1 have now been incorporated into a longer, chattier header that gives visitors full access to the content of the site.
I’d been admiring the work of designer Randy J. Hunt and his studio Citizen Scholar for quite awhile. I was really knocked out by the beauty and elegance of his work on the great designer goodies site Supermarket, and after that I was determined to find a way to work with him on something. During a break from my studio this summer that has since become permanent, I did a bit of travelling, cleaned house, and then turned my attention to some of those rainy-day jobs you always save for tomorrow. Highest on my list was taking a fresh look at Lined & Unlined, and I dropped Randy a note to see if he’d be interested in helping me out. A design writer himself, he has done a stellar job as our blogger at AIGA/NY for over a year, and I knew our conversation about reworking the site would inevitably take us into thoughtful critical territory as well. After a ton of hard work and a great deal of patience with his demanding client, Randy and I wrapped L&UL v2. A few weeks ago, we sat down to talk about what’s new. —RG
Randy J. Hunt: What interested me most when we first started working, other than the content of course, was the idea of “not changing much.”
Rob Giampietro: That’s a good place to start. I’m fond of this saying by Stewart Brand from his “How Buildings Learn” BBC series. He says, “the chief architect of buildings is time.” I think in a way L&UL was a house I’d lived in for 2 years, and it was just time to move some furniture around, paint a wall, add a new driveway, etc.
RJH: Absolutely. In all cases I try to realize a design in service of content approach, but sometimes that’s difficult. In this case, I don’t think it could have been any other way.
RG: Sometimes when you start a new design project, the temptation is to throw things away. But this can be akin to saving over a file, you lose the thread of your thinking. I think we weren’t looking to throw anything away or save over anything in this case, Renda had done an amazing job building the foundation. We only wanted to look at a site that had grown organically over a good period of time and try to make some specific adjustments that will help it receive more of that kind of content and, also, to endure.
Above: Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs in collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs tote.
I was watching this documentary on Marc Jacobs the other day. During a section focusing on his work with contemporary artists and his growing personal collection of art, Jacobs lamented that he was not himself an artist. But his statment seemed odd to me: I had, at least in some sense, always thought of Jacobs as an artist. It was strange to hear him think otherwise. Later, the painter Elizabeth Peyton is interviewed: she considers Jacobs an artist as well, even though she acknowledges that he doesn’t consider himself one. Jacobs’s reasoning for this is that he has investors and bosses at LVMH for his work at Louis Vuitton, and for his work with Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs. The public, of course, has its demands as well. His argument is that he doesn’t enjoy the individual freedom for self-expression that artists enjoy. Even knowing Jacobs’s reasons, however, I still disagreed with him and agreed with Peyton. This got me thinking.
I’m just back from doing a bit of moderating at the outstanding WebbyConnect Conference near L.A. A nice roundup of links and ideas from that conference coming soon, but in the meantime I wanted to mention that I’ll be speaking at SVA tomorrow as part of the D.Crit program’s Fall Lecture Series. The talk is free and open to the public. Seeming to sense that I needed a bit of last-minute inspiration, Kevin sent me this TED talk from the always-stellar John Hodgman. (Now if only there were some way to work the movie Dune into my talk…)
The New York Art Book Fair kicks off this weekend, and I’ll be rushing back from LA to catch the last day of it on Sunday. It’s always one of the highlights of the year. In tandem with the fair is the ARLIS/NY Contemporary Artists’ Book Fair Conference, whose participants include my friends Stuart and David at Dexter Sinister along with Jason Fulford of J&L Books and Matt Keegan of North Drive Press. A lot of other great artists, critics, and art historians will be there as well; all the conference abstracts are here. Register here. David and Stuart are producing a special gift book for all attendees called Library Book, which collects and distributes PDFs archived on their website here.
If your interest is piqued after reading my recent post on game theory, this brand-new course by Professor Ben Polak on Game Theory from Yale’s amazing Open Course initiative is well worth a look and listen. I’ve just started but, so far, highly recommended.
I thought I was all set with the conceptual underpinnings of the I’m a Mac / I’m a PC campaign until I read John Gruber’s thoughtful post on Microsoft’s new campaign. Gruber writes, “Apple does not sell operating systems. They sell computers. Microsoft does not sell computers; they sell operating systems. […] Apple and Microsoft are undeniably engaged in one of the longest running and most interesting rivalries in business history, but it is very odd in that it is an orthogonal rivalry. Apple’s direct competition isn’t Microsoft but instead PC makers who sell computers running Windows. […] The framing of Apple’s ads is not about either/or. Not a choice between two rival products, like Democrat/Republican, Chevy/Ford, Coke/Pepsi. The framing instead is special vs. regular. Not Coke vs. Pepsi but Coke vs. ‘soda.’ […] Windows is not the Mac’s rival or competitor. It is the omnipresent homogenizer that weighs PC down.”
Plenty Magazine has a great oral history of the Whole Earth Catalog. Here’s Kevin Kelly: “The WEC helped rid us of our allergy to commerce. Brand believed in capitalism, just not by traditional methods. He was the first person to embrace true financial transparency. His decision to disclose WEC’s finances in the pages of the catalog had a profound ripple effect. A lot of those hippies who dropped out and tried to live off the land decided to come back and start small companies because of it. And out of that came the Googles of the world.”