What I’m Listening To Now…Design Matters

by Tania Ginoza on November 4, 2012 · 11 comments

My interest in design extends well beyond merely making an object, home or piece of ready to wear beautiful. I find all aspects of design fascinating.  Great graphic design can tempt us to buy or incite great emotion.  Industrial design must marry form and function and take into consideration ergonomics, environment and workflow processes.  Clothing design can be functional or fanciful or a bit of both and often reflects the economic and political climate at the time of its creation.  The design of many things in our lives have been carefully thought out and debated, from the cup holder in our vehicles to the height of our couches to the sleek shape of our tech tools.

I became interested in design relatively late in life and I want to learn as much as I can so I was happy to stumble upon the Design Matters podcast from The Design Observer.  Design Matters is hosted by Debbie Millman, the President of the design division at Sterling Brands. The podcast is comprised of interviews with a mix of graphic designers, art curators, authors, bloggers, architects and many more.  It is apparent that Ms. Millman clearly does her research prior to each interview which takes the discussions well beyond the typical resume and what’s new plug. She often pulls us back into her subject’s early influences and career path as well as discussing their interpretation of current design trends.  Each interview is ~40 to 45 minutes long and always leaves me wanting more. Each of her podcasts have prompted me to explore further on my own on a wide variety of topics including design history.

Some of my favorite Design Matters interviews have been with:

  • Maria Popova, the founder and writer of Brain Pickings, which is a lovely mish mash of intelligently written posts about a variety of topics including art, ecology, sociology and design, to name a few.  I found Maria’s discussion of her typical day and how she organizes and sifts through a vast amount of content each day particularly interesting.
  • Steve Frykholm who is the head of the Herman Miller creative department and has worked for the midcentury modern design company for the last four decades. I enjoyed the discussion on how the annual posters he originally created for the company’s picnic from 1970 to 1989 got their start. These posters became iconic and seven eventually earned their place in MOMA’s permanent collection (per Herman Miller’s blog).
  • Chris Ware is a cartoonist and graphic novel author who explores topics like depression and isolation in his work.  I’ve just received my own copy of Building Stories, which is a box of fourteen printed items that can be read in any order or combined to learn the intersecting stories of a Chicago brownstone and its residents.  I was an avid comic book reader and collector as a child and I credit Design Matters for reigniting that interest by introducing me to several graphic novel creators with compelling but very human stories to tell.
  • Grace Bonney, the creator of the popular design blog, Design*Sponge and former contributor to the Domino Magazine discusses how she started her blog when very few were blogging and her passion for learning and absorbing (like a sponge) anything and everything design.

You can listen online and see a complete list of the Design Matters podcasts here including a brief summary of each guest and topics covered. Design Matters is also available on iTunes.  Design Matters has an extensive archive to choose from and they have just returned from their mid year hiatus with a new interview each Friday.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Shalagh November 5, 2012

You had mentioned these podcasts before. Nicely presented. I am further impressed/envious of your expanded interest in how design applies everywhere. We both are fans of the graphic novel. I request more onfo. on which ones you started reading and what you are perusing now. Many moons ago I was a huge fan of a series called Grendel. Dark Horse Comics never disappointed.
Love,
Shalagh

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Tania November 6, 2012

Oooohhh, now I know who to hit up for graphic novel recommendations. I’ll definitely post about Building Stories, it’s too great not too.

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Ann November 5, 2012

Podcasts are a great way to keep learning! I’m an industrial designer, BTW : )

I will definitely have to check these out! Thanks Tania!

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Tania November 6, 2012

I thought you were a graphic designer all this time! That is so interesting Ann. I think you’ll enjoy Design Matters.

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Ihilani November 5, 2012

I need to get into podcasts more! Keola loves his sports podcasts so maybe I should start listening to some design ones. I’m ace for starting a podcast and never finishing it…normally I get interrupted, but if I have it playing in the car then maybe I’ll be able to get through episodes a little at a time.

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Tania November 6, 2012

I’ll be posting about a few more here and there although this one didn’t seem to resonate that well, this post had very few views. I listen mostly in the car or sometimes when I’m cleaning the house.

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Eden November 7, 2012

What a great find. I too love design and am always interested in how designers were inspired. I’m going to be listening to this series on my commute. Thanks!

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Elinor Gawel (Eli) November 10, 2012

I love Maria Popova. Such a lovely dilettant. I like podcasts to make the housework bearable. I’ll have to add that one to my list.

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Tania November 12, 2012

I found Maria to be very inspiring and fascinating. It was wonderful to listen to someone who wants to gobble up everything written as much as I do. I do podcasts during housework too or sometimes stream small space youtube videos on my apple tv.

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Tiffanie November 14, 2012

Tania, I am so happy to have come across this post right now. I am about to dive back into a week of late nights working on a project, and I am clueless when it comes to finding podcasts that will interest me. This is a great resource and right up my alley. Thank you!

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Tania November 15, 2012

You’ll love it! I have a few more that you’ll enjoy. I’ll tweet ya when those posts are up.

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