Follow the Authors
Now You See It and Other Essays on Design Hardcover – November 7, 2017
Enhance your purchase
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
From the Publisher
Excerpt from a conversation with Michael Bierut in Design Week Magazine
Design Week: What’s the main aim of [Now You See It]?
Michael Bierut: Increasingly more and more people are becoming consumers of design. Almost everyone is going to be consuming and reacting to things that designers are producing. This book is intended to make us smarter, better and more purposeful consumers and also show how design is being used to project our identities into the world.
Every 12-year-old with an Instagram account is thinking about their brand through their clothes, expression and background in a photo. People have always been conscious of their own presentation but the capacity to express that to an audience of infinite size is completely new. That, in a way, is a design process. Any insight into what designers think and what they’re trying to achieve can be instructive for people.
"Engaging, smart, meaningful and witty"
"There is no more fluid or engaging writer, in any subject"
—Dallas Morning News
"This is a story of optimism and curiosity disguised as a book of design essays"
"Bierut is the consummate corporate designer, and his collection of essays, Now You See It, brings you behind the curtain of professionalism to expose exactly how design is produced and functions in the real world. In other hands this might seem esoteric, but there is no more fluid or engaging writer, in any subject; reading Michael Bierut is like listening to Don Draper sell a campaign for Lucky Strike. Better still, in this book you can read Bierut riffing on the implications of Don Draper selling a campaign for Lucky Strike."
- Dallas Morning News
"In this book of essays, Michael Bierut explores topics ranging from typefaces and hoaxes to urban architecture and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Bierut, a partner at Pentagram, writes with humor about how design shapes our world."
- Fast Company's Co.Design
"An anthology of essays by celebrated designer Michael Bierut, covering pop culture, process, inspiration, mentorship, and the history of design."
"This is a story of optimism and curiosity disguised as a book of design essays-an entertaining and encouraging account for those in any creative industry."
- Technical Communication
About the Author
- Publisher : Princeton Architectural Press (November 7, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1616896248
- ISBN-13 : 978-1616896249
- Item Weight : 1.32 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.38 x 1 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #844,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Michael Bierut has written for the Design Observer website (of which he is a cofounder) and the very enjoyable “Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design” while running his practice. Last year, he released a stunning retrospective-type book “How To,” that I highly recommend and consider a masterpiece in terms of presentation, subject and scope. I initially thought—like similar designers of his level—that it might end there, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn a collection of his writings for Design Observer was coming out this Fall titled, "Now You See It and other essays on Design"
I suppose it’s also timely as everyone has a blog now and can be a published writer without the usual physical channels. However, not one to fall into trends, Bierut has historically always had something intelligent to say and share whether on a stage (where I first learned of him while I was in design school), an online video or in his own writings, so it is most fitting that he exercises his gifts of design thinking and storytelling in constructive (or perhaps cathartic) fashion. Celebrating design legends like Alan Fletcher, Charley Harper, Lou Dorfsman and his own first design mentor, Massimo Vignelli, lesser known creatives are also given their due through Bierut’s humorous at times and engrossing (all the time) insights.
Like a mentor in a book (as is another favourite, “The Design Method” by Eric Karjaluoto), Bierut’s book is full of satisfying stories about his own real-world experiences explaining and controlling design process with clients, to design lessons (“…you ever know what might happen with those little jobs.”) and feelings about the power of “The Sell” in the Mad Men TV series. Whether a seasoned designer or green and fresh out of school, any reader of this book will find moments to pause and ponder over a particular passage (the Oprah “aha” moment), to vigorously roll their eyes (good grief, tell me it gets better) or to find themselves nodding, with that knowing “been there, done that” recollection.
Words that come to mind about his writing tone and depth range from vulnerable, inspired, humble…to funny, engaging and legacy. And what a delightful legacy he shares with stories (aka Design History lessons) about typographic trailblazer Lou Dorfsman who only designed one way (with integrity), his first freelance gig where his wife Dorothy gleefully bails him out, and what the word “quintessence” means. I found myself feeling more well-informed after reading “Now You See It” and like his previous collection of essays, l look forward to re-reading it again for that same enjoyment. In a single sentence, this is a solid book about working as a designer (vs. a traditional “design greatest hits book”) and good investment if not for the cost of buying it, for the entertaining, smart writing and sage design advice it provides throughout.
The last chapter of the book contains an interview with Michael Beirut and he says something which sums up best my feeling after reading “…what I discovered was that design—and this is particularly true with graphic design—is a way to engage with real content, real experience. The key to the whole thing is your ability to learn about that stuff—what I called the ‘outside world’ stuff—and if you can do that, your work will resonate in a way that it can’t if your goal is simply resolving the formal ‘design’ issues.”
About the content: You can't make it ten pages without reading another humblebrag about the author's work with Vignelli, Obama, et al. There were roughly three entries in which some topic was explored in a genuine and insightful way. It was disappointing because when I started reading it, I had a notebook ready to go and tried taking notes on each essay. I filled half a page total with the lessons learned from this entire book.
Afterwards, I thought, "Perhaps the level of critical thought in graphic design is just lower than for our architectural brethren." The next week, I picked up Kenya Hara's "Designing Japan" and was floored by his thoughtfulness, precision, and thoroughness. I would have rated Now You See It a two or three before reading Designing Japan, but the blinding contrast between the two solidified Now You See It as a one out of five.
Top reviews from other countries
Reviewed in Spain 🇪🇸 on June 25, 2018