Michael Bierut: How to make architecture out of paper

Michael Bierut delivers a Current Work lecture about his prolific career and the use of graphic design for architecture.

November 4, 2015
7:00 p.m.

Michael Bierut, Pentagram | The Architectural League of New York Light Years poster, 1999. Image courtesy Pentagram

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

Graphic Designer Michael Bierut will present his work in a public lecture to be followed by a conversation with Reed Kroloff.

For his entire career, Bierut has worked with architects and has faced the challenge of how ideas realized in three dimensions can be conveyed compellingly in two. Some of his most enduring relationships, including those with the Yale School of Architecture and The Architectural League of New York, have had architecture at the center. At the same time, he has been asked to create signage programs for projects as diverse as Celebration, Florida; the New York Times Building; and Lever House. The resulting posters, books, and environmental graphics demonstrate the surprising things that happen when two dimensions meet the third.

Michael Bierut is a partner of Pentagram, a multi-disciplinary design firm with offices in New York, London, Berlin, Austin, and San Francisco. Bierut works across a broad mix of scales—from environmental graphics, to corporate and institutional identities, to posters and publications. His clients have included Saks Fifth Avenue, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Harley-Davidson, the New York City Department of Transportation, the Robin Hood Foundation, Mohawk Paper Mills, Princeton University, the New York Jets, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, MIT Media Lab, and Hillary for America. Bierut’s work is represented in the permanent collections of museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has been recognized frequently for contributions to the field, including the AIGA Medal, in 2006, and the Design Mind category of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards in 2008.

A frequent commentator on a broad mix of design topics, Bierut is co-founder of Design Observer, a blog of design and cultural criticism, and author of the book 79 Short Essays on Design. A monograph on Bierut’s work, How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry and (every once in a while) change the world has been published this month. An exhibition of his work, part of the School of Visual Art’s Masters Series, will be on view at the SVA Chelsea Gallery in New York City from October 6 to November 7.

Moderated by Reed Kroloff. Kroloff is an architecture educator and critic. He is a principal of jones|kroloff and the former Director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.



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