Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Brute Force

Michael and Jessica discuss IBM, which has embraced design thinking and hired of thousands of designers.

Michael says this commitment to design is “expressed almost with the brute force of numbers,” unlike the “Good Design Is Good Business” era of Paul Rand, Eliot Noyes, and Eero Saarinen, which was "not a mass movement but led by a relatively small elite cadre of high priests."

And Jessica asks: "If you're not thinking like a designer, what are you thinking like? Design thinking is creative thinking. It’s creative problem-solving."

Also mentioned:
  • Video from Paris: Behind the Bataclan and the most viewed Vine
  • Pigeons diagnose breast cancer on X-rays as well as radiologists
  • Janine Benyus, Biomimicry
  • The Coke bottle at 100
  • Linda Tischler and David Butler, Design to Grow
  • New York Times obituary for Michael Gross
  • Michael on the forgotten design legacy of National Lampoon

  • Posted in: Arts + Culture, The Observatory

    Comments [2]

    Hi Jessica and Michael, I really enjoyed your last episode! I studied Graphic Design and now I am completing a graduate program in Design Management and because of this I feel grateful that you have been challenging the "Design Thinking" movement. One of the problems that I have been seeing with this so called "Design Thinking" movement is that a lot of their advocates talk a lot about design, but they lack education in design history and theory. I have had the opportunity to see this in my graduate program where I have met people who talk about the importance of design all day long, but they don't even know who're Paul Rand or Milton Glaser, and more problematic they don't even care. None of the programs that teaches "Design Thinking" requires design history courses. Another problem I've witnessed, is that "design thinkers" believe that design is about using post-its and having brainstorming sessions. During my 4 year of undergrad, I swear I never saw anyone using post-its and I never attended one of this events called "hackathons". I believe this "Design Thinking" trend creates lots of stereotypes about the role of designers and diminishes our profession. For those reasons I celebrate that more and more designers are questioning this whole thing. Thanks for the wisdom! Federico
    Federico Zuleta

    Like your work and thinking. That's great.
    Taposy Rabeya

    Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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