Author: Ellen Lupton

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2012 National Design Awards Gala
Remembering Massimo Vignelli (1931-2014)
From the moment Massimo Vignelli started his career in Italy in the mid-1950s, he forged a rigorous philosophy that transformed the international language of design for print, products, and environments. Over the decades, debates about design’s cultural function bubbled and boiled around him. Confronting the upheavals of Pop, post-modernism, deconstruction, and the digital age, Massimo...
Chair, Cabbage, 2008
A poetic transformation of industrial waste
The Cabbage chair was created for an exhibition organized in Japan by Issey Miyake, who challenged his contemporaries to conceive of new products for the twenty-first-century. What types of furniture and objects are appropriate, Miyake asked, for people who “don’t just wear clothes, but shed their skin?” He invited Oki Sato of Nendo to find...
Map: Worldmapper Project: Global Internet Use 1990 and 2007. Designed by Danny Dorling, John Pritchard, Benjamin I. Wheeler, Graham Allsopp, Anna Barford, and Mark Newman, 2007. Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund. 2012-19-1.
A cartogram of global internet use
Most maps are built around representations of geographical land mass. Worldmapper show us something different. This collaborative team of cartographers from the University of Sheffield and the University of Michigan is exploring the uneven effects of globalization. Rather than depict how much land a given territory occupies, each map shows how a social or economic...
Rows of letters and numbers printed in orange on white. Serged on all 4 sides.
Alphabet
When do graphic design and textile design merge and overlap? The great mid-century designer Alexander Girard is best known for his work as founding director of the Herman Miller Textile Division, a post he held from 1952 through 1973. There, working alongside such design legends as George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, he created...
Dark red textile with stripes
Fractions
How does a critic design textiles? With a typewriter, of course! Bernard Rudofsky was one of design’s great polymath thinkers. The exhibitions he organized in mid-century New York provoked designers to look at the world in new ways. Trained as an architect in his native Moravia (present day Austria), he was not licensed to practice...
Poster, LIGHT/YEARS: Poster for the Architectural Leagues Beaux Arts Ball, March 13, 1999
Light Years
Graphic design plays a sinister supporting role in Steven Soderbergh’s film Side Effects (2012), starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Mara plays an emotionally distressed junior designer with problems much bigger than kerning type. Slammed with depression, her professional life rapidly falls apart in several crucial scenes that were shot in...
A repeating pattern of the letters 'IBM' in three different graphic presentations: narrowly outlined in black, heavily outlined in black, and solid blue.
Corporate Calico: Angelo Testa’s Fabric for IBM
When IBM premiered its boxy, geometric logotype in 1956, designed by Paul Rand, the idea of a coordinated corporate identity system was just taking off. Indeed, Rand’s logo design set the mark for a new standard of graphic communication in business. A corporate identity was intended to be more than a logo, however: it was...
Length of printed cotton with an all-over fine linear design in black on a white ground. The figures seem to be inspired by hieroglyphs.
Alvin Lustig’s Incantation
Although his career was tragically short, Alvin Lustig was among America’s most influential mid-century graphic designers. Textiles like Incantation (1947) reflect a rich multidisciplinary practice that encompassed furniture, graphics, architecture, and animation. After studying design and printing at Los Angeles Junior College, Lustig started creating geometric patterns in the medium of letterpress in the early...
HorseProjectSpace Presents: Ritual Tendencies by Michiel Schuurman
A Poster by Michiel Schuurman
Every summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors travel by ferry to Governors Island, a former Coast Guard outpost that has become one of New York City’s most popular public parks. In summer 2012, Cooper-Hewitt was proud to host our exhibition, Graphic Design: Now In Productio​n, on Governors Island, and I was proud to be among...