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Designer and critic Jessica Helfand has emerged as a leading voice of a new generation of designers. Her essays—at once pithy, polemical, and precise—appear in places as diverse as Eye, Print, ID, The New Republic, and the LA Times.The essays collected here decode the technologies, trends, themes, and personalities that define design today, especially "the new media," and provide a road map of things to come. Her first two chapbooks—Paul Rand: American Modernist and Six (+2) Essays on Design and New Media—became instant classics. This new compilation brings together essays from the earlier publications along with more than twenty others on a variety of topics including avatars, "the cult of the scratchy," television, sex on the screen, and more.Designers, students, educators, visual literati, and everyone looking for an entertaining and insightful guide to the world of design today will not find a better or more approachable book on the subject.
Posted November 13, 2001
Although the amount of writing about design has grown remarkably over the last several years, only a small bit of it is actually any good. And while I think an increased amount of discourse is generally a positive thing, I think in design's case we've come to the proverbial fork in the road. On one side, there's the swaggering, portfolio-bloated, semi-literate design monographs of the last several years. On the other side, there's truly critical, topical, didactic design writing whose words aren't just there as dummy text. If this latter direction is the one in which our discourse wishes to travel, then we should all take a page out of Jessica Helfand's glorious new book, Screen. For literate designers who've come down with cabin fever over the last few years, Ms. Helfand's book is like taking a spin around the neighborhood, touching on topics from Victorian cultural history to Media Studies and everything in between. Meticulously considered and reconsidered - many of these essays were first published elsewhere - Screen reminds us that writing about a field as simultaneously aesthetic and analytic as design takes time and effort. In turn, our time and effort should be spent on these thoughtful essays, for they are a both a gift and a direction from one of the very best we have.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.