August 23, 2017

Milton Glaser in conversation with Debbie Millman

“The Hippocratic oath is equally useful applied to designers as it is to doctors. Why should a designer have any more leeway than a doctor?”

A great conversation between two of my favourite designers, Milton Glaser and Debbie Millman.

The piece at the end rings particularly true at this stage of my life, getting to watch the joy and excitement of kids while they play the simplest of games, and thinking about how all of us were like that.

August 1, 2017

Good design makes you happy

If you’re happy, things work better because you’re more creative — you get a little problem, you say, ‘Ah, I'll figure it out.’ No big deal.

A relatively old TED talk by professor and author Don Norman (recorded in 2003 before TED became free-to-stream), so it’s a little dated, but still holds some gems.

“When you’re anxious you squirt neural transmitters in the brain, which focuses you, makes you depth-first. And when you’re happy — what we call positive valence — you squirt dopamine into the prefrontal lobes, which makes you a breadth-first problem solver: you’re more susceptible to interruption; you do out-of-the-box thinking. That’s what brainstorming is about, right? With brainstorming we make you happy, we play games, and we say, ‘No criticism,’ and you get all these weird, neat ideas. But in fact, if that’s how you always were you’d never get any work done because you’d be working along and say, ‘Oh, I got a new way of doing it.’ So to get work done, you’ve got to set a deadline, right? You’ve got be anxious. The brain works differently. And if you’re happy, things work better because you’re more creative — you get a little problem, you say, ‘Ah, I'll figure it out.’ No big deal.”

In other words, the happier you are during a project deadline, the easier it can be to come up with ideas. That might be doing something as simple as taking breaks to read or exercise or go for a walk, or even just making your workspace nicer to sit at.

“I really have the feeling that pleasant things work better.”
— Don Norman

After listening, I had a look at Don’s recommended reads. Interestingly, Per Mollerup (author of Marks of Excellence) released a new book in 2015 titled Simplicity: A Matter of Design ( Looks worth picking up. But not before I read Don’s popular book, The Design of Everyday Things, revised and expanded in 2013 (

March 9, 2017

Haunted by data

Pinboard founder Maciej Ceglowski argues that there should be law to limit behavioural data collection to 90 days.

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January 19, 2017

Saul Bass — Style is Substance

15 minutes well-spent watching a couple of commentaries about the title sequences of Saul Bass.

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September 9, 2015

It is always now

Part of us always knows that we’re just a doctor’s visit or a phone call away from being starkly reminded with the fact of our own mortality.

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August 5, 2015

Giving voice to ideas

Copywriting can be about much more than just tone of voice. It can form an integral part of a company’s brand strategy.

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October 3, 2013

The computer’s a dangerous instrument…

...because it shapes your capacity to understand what's possible. It's like an apparently submissive servant that turns out to be a subversive that ultimately gains control of your mind.

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January 11, 2013

Artfully visualising our humanity

A few projects that reflect on our lives and the systems we use.

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April 25, 2012

Milton Glaser on Donald Trump

Trump licensed his name to an anonymous Dutch-distilled vodka in 2006. By 2007, it did $4.3 million in sales, selling for $30 a bottle, which priced it above Absolut. But by 2008, sales dropped 81% and only got worse from there.

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March 23, 2011

Michael Wolff on creativity

And on the three muscles he’s developed with age — inquisitiveness, appreciation, and imagination.

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November 3, 2009

The design responsibility

How will design shape our future? How are we, as designers, taking responsibility for the products we help put to market?

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