The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

October 12, 2016
by Dan
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Elaine Lustig Cohen, Pioneer

I was sad to hear that designer Elaine Lustig Cohen had died aged 89 last week. She will forever be associated with her more famous husband Alvin Lustig, but she was a remarkable designer in her own right and her influence, as Steven … Continue reading

August 22, 2016
by Dan
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“Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads?”

Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads? is a short documentary about the classic, highly influential ad campaigns created by Manhattan advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) for Volkwagen in the 1950s and 60s: (via Kottke)

May 14, 2016
by Dan
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Roy Kuhlman Archive

Early this week I posted about the Robert Brownjohn online archive created by his daughter, Eliza. Today, a new website dedicated to the work of the graphic designer Roy Kuhlman curated by his daughter, Arden Kuhlman Riordan, has gone live. … Continue reading

September 17, 2015
by Dan
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Munari’s Books

Before turning his attention to graphics and advertising, Italian artist and designer Bruno Munari (1907-1998) made his mark as a member of the Futurists, an avant-garde art movement fascinated by modernity, mass production, and pushing at technological limits. The influence of Futurism — not to mention modernism’s … Continue reading

April 29, 2015
by Dan
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Ladislav Sutnar: Visual Design in Action — Facsimile Edition

I don’t post too many crowd-funded publishing projects here on the Casual Optimist — there are so many of them, and so few seem really significant — but I’m more than happy to support the Designers and Books‘ campaign to create a facsimile reprint of Visual Design in Action by … Continue reading

March 1, 2015
by Dan
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Paul Rand, Master of Brand Identity

At the New York Times, Ken Johnson reviews Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand, a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York: Considering the punchy, wildly inventive covers he created in the 1950s for books by Henry … Continue reading

August 15, 2014
by Dan
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Logocentrism: Jessica Helfand on Paul Rand

Paul Rand’s classic 1947 essay Thoughts on Design is being re-published next month by Chronicle Books, and Design Observer has just reposted a wonderful essay by Jessica Helfand on Rand, originally published in The New Republic in 1997: Looking back on his prolific career, it is paradoxical … Continue reading

December 1, 2012
by Dan
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Jens Risom’s Block Island Retreat

In this beautiful short film directed by Gary Nadeau for Dwell magazine, Danish American furniture designer Jens Risom talks about the prefab vacation home he built for his family on Block Island in the 1965:

August 16, 2012
by Dan
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Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island

Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island, directed by Jake Gorst and supported by Design Onscreen, explores the work of the region’s notable postwar architects and designers, including Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Herbert Beckhard, Frank Lloyd Wright, Horace Gifford, Edward Durrell … Continue reading

June 26, 2012
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

An interview with award-winning Toronto-based illustrator Gary Taxali at GrainEdit. How Disappointing — Book designer Peter Mendelsund on what we picture in our minds when we read literary works: “Call me Ishmael.” What happens when you read this line? You … Continue reading

June 5, 2012
by Dan
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Montreal in the 60’s

Montreal in the 60’s is a short film by assembled by Jim Dayshine from archival images from the National Film Board of Canada. I posted this at the other place earlier today, but I’m re-posting it here because it is … Continue reading

February 10, 2012
by Dan
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The Design Genius of Charles and Ray Eames

While looking for Charles and Ray Eames film Tops earlier this week, I came across this interesting TED talk from a few years ago by their grandson Eames Demetrios (who is also interviewed in the documentary EAMES: The Architect and The Painter):

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