The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany

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The typographical cover for Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s What If Latin America Ruled the World designed by Sarah Greeno at Bloomsbury UK.

The Gall — The inimitable  John Gall, VP and Art Director of Vintage / Anchor Books, interviewed for a rather super looking new magazine called Design Bureau:

[O]nce you have a nice solid concept, the rest of the process can almost seem effortless; enjoyable, even. And these, of course, are usually the best ones.” Gall describes his creative process as threefold: research, concept and execute. “Read the books, come up with some ideas, flesh them out, see what is sticking,” he says. However, it’s the process of getting a book’s cover approved that poses the greatest challenge for Gall and his team. “If the publisher comes back and says, well, ‘This needs really big type with a chicken on it’, that obviously means they think this is kind of important,” he says. “The re-working, dealing with all the feedback (some warranted, some moronic) ‘make this bigger’, ‘make this smaller’, ‘my psychic thinks it should be blue’—that is what separates the men from the boys,” he says.

John Gall by Noah Kalina

The article is accompanied by photographs by Noah Kalina, and includes John’s tips for lunch in New York. What more could you ask for? An interview with designer Abbott Miller you say? Well, Design Bureau have one of those as well.

Exit Interview — Former New York Times Design Director Khoi Vinh on designing the newspaper’s paywall, and his decision to walk away, in the New York Observer:

One way of trying to make logical design decisions is through research. Mr. Vinh’s team has been studying traffic patterns on the site and watching test subjects, real readers, in a lab to see how their eyes move across the page when they are reading The Times online.

“I take it all with a grain of salt,” he said. “Everything is so measurable now, theoretically. But the truth of the matter is, there’s never enough data to substitute for raw decision-making abilities. At the end of the day, you still need to make the decision.”

Designing Madison Avenue The New York Review of Books blog on the look of TV show Mad Men:

Among many things that make Mad Men so intriguing is its broad definition of what constitutes design. For example, its cunningly detailed, not-quite-couture female costuming—the B.H. Wragge-style coat-and-dress ensembles, the Koret handbags, the Coro costume jewelry—makes the female characters … seem as if they have stepped straight out of the Sunday New York Times during the twilight of Lester Markel… Equally fanatical attention is paid to interior design. The offices of Sterling Cooper were done up in the spacious, late International Style corporate mode epitomized by the boxy glass-and-steel skyscrapers that rose along Park Avenue after World War II.

And on a somwhat related note, Eleanor Wachtel interviews legendary designer Milton Glaser for CBC Radio. Good stuff.

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One Comment

  1. The cover is spiffing! I do hope that South America has a more important say in World Affairs in the coming years & decades, though I do not believe for a single second that South America will rule the world: the world became multi-polar years ago. It’s time to acknowledge the fact!

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