In conjunction with the installation Pixar: The Design of Story and the Design by Hand series, Cooper Hewitt welcomes John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, for a conversation with Pentagram’s Michael Bierut. Lasseter has served as Pixar’s creative leader since its inception, spearheading the studio’s use of the design processes of traditional animation in combination with cutting-edge technology to create a unique style of animated storytelling. He ranks among Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, and Hayao Miyazaki as one of the world’s most influential makers of animated film.
Lasseter began his career as an animator for the Walt Disney Studios, where he first experimented with the then radical new medium of computer-generated imagery (CGI). In 1984, he joined the Lucasfilm Computer Division, where he animated one of the very first CGI films: The Adventures of André & Wally B. After the division was bought by Steve Jobs and renamed Pixar, Lasseter wrote, directed, and animated Pixar’s first short films, including Luxo Jr., now screening at Cooper Hewitt.
In 1995, Toy Story, Lasseter’s feature film directorial debut, was released, launching a new era for animated film. The world’s first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story was recognized with a Special Achievement Oscar for Lasseter’s leadership and became the first animated feature film to be nominated for best original screenplay. Lasseter returned to the director’s seat for A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Cars, and Cars 2, and, in his signature Hawaiian shirts, now helms both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, as well as serves as the principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.
About Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut is a graphic designer, author, design critic, author, and educator. A partner in the international design consultancy Pentagram, Bierut was the recipient of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s Design Mind Award in 2008.
About the Design by Hand series
Launched in partnership with Van Cleef & Arpels in fall 2013 with the iconic Finnish brand Marimekko, the Design by Hand series focuses on the craftsmanship, innovations, and merits of contemporary global designers. Special programs connect university students, high school students, adults, and families with design.