The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany

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Another great set of designs for the 2009 D&AD student award brief for typography sponsored by Faber and Faber, this time by Rinse Design (via Cosa Visuales). See also: Ed Cornish’s designs for the brief.

Phaidon have relaunched their website and it is really rather nice (via FormFiftyFive).

The Imaginary PresentMike Doherty interviews William Gibson about his new novel Zero History for The National Post:

In his earlier books, Gibson says, he aimed to devise “futures that felt as though they were filled with designed artifacts, as indeed they would be. I can’t think of too many science fiction writers who’d bother trying to do that.” In the [new] series, his devotion to design has gone into overdrive, reflecting the idea that “everything is ‘designer,’ ” even though “with most things, you’ll never know the name of a designer.”

PopMatters also spoke to the author about the new book.

Code — Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, reviews Tom McCarthy’s C for The New York Times:

[McCarthy] aligns disparate things into larger patterns full of recurring images: analogies between the human body and earth, and machinery; hums and whirs; film screens; bowels and tunnels; electric circuits; cauls and other silken membranes. These repetitions come to feel like the articulation of a larger code — as if, were readers to plot their exact positions throughout the novel, they would discover a hidden message.

What Ever Happened to Reading Properly? — ReadySteadyBlog’s Mark Thwaite on critics misreading of  Gabriel Josipovici’s What Ever Happened to Modernism?:

It’s interesting that Josipovici’s book which, in many ways, is both a call to read more carefully and an enquiry into why reading carefully is beyond so many cultural gatekeepers, has been read so sloppily by so many of its critics… Josipovici doesn’t invoke marginal or avant-garde writers, nor praise typographical or narrative playfulness over stale traditionalism, but rather brings us back to canonical writers (a good part of his essay is taken up with Wordsworth) and allows us to see what was at stake for those artists in their work, and what is at stake for us as readers.

And finally… It’s Vignelli week at Design Observer:

Debbie Millman’s 2007 interview with Massimo Vignelli (excerpted from her book How To Think Like a Graphic Designer):

I’m interested in “essence” — my major aim is really to get to the essence of the problem. And just throw away everything that’s not pertinent to it. At the end of a project, my work should be the projection of that experience, the essence of effect. It’s a habit that you get into… The essence is what is left when there’s nothing else that you can throw away.

Michel Bierut profiles Lella Vignelli:

Massimo has often defined their working relationship like this: “I’m the engine, and Lella is the brakes.” The first time I heard this as a young designer, it was clear to me which was more important. If you were a designer, wouldn’t you want to be the engine, powerful, propulsive, driving forward? It was only years later that I remembered something my high school driving instructor once said: “You don’t get killed in a car accident because the car won’t start. You get killed because the breaks fail.”

And, there is an interesting, beautifully shot, video interview with Massimo Vignelli by photographer John Madere here.

There will surely be more good stuff as the week progresses…

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