Michael Bierut on how to think like a designer

Michael Bierut runs us through some of his major projects and the thought processes behind them: a rare opportunity to get into his award-winning mind.

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New York-based graphic designer Michael Bierut – partner at Pentagram and long-time friend, supporter, speaker and emcee at Design Indaba Conference – took to the Conference stage in 2015 with some extra special news. Bierut announced the creation of his first ever monograph: How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world.

The formidable volume, which comprises detailed chapters on the 35 different projects with sketches from Bierut’s notebooks and initial notes and ideas, was published at the end of September 2015. This conference talk, and the book it previews, is laid out in an entertaining "How to" format.

“The thing that interests me the most,” says Bierut, “the real moments of pleasure that I have, are when you sort of get to see how someone did something. How did you do it? How did you get from here to there?”

In the four decades Bierut has been working as a graphic designer he has gained a significant amount of knowledge and worked on some iconic branding and identities.  His clients include Saks Fifth Avenue, The New York Times, The Museum of Art and Design, MIT Media Lab, and the Department of Transportation of the City of New York.

People say graphic design is harmless, people say it is ephemeral, people say it is cosmetic, people say it doesn't mean all that much, but you can ruin the world with graphic design!

Luckily Michael Bierut has never been guilty of that, far from it. This speaker talk is 40 minutes of Bierut’s humour, humility and insight.

Watch the Interview with Michael Bierut