Steven Heller: Deconstructing design and the power of logos

The art of critiquing design from one of the leading voices in design criticism.

Having published numerous authored works on various design subjects, art director Steven Heller is a leading voice in design criticism. In this interview, he discusses the importance of critical thinking with reference to the design programmes he cofounded and his work on the power of logo design.

Heller, currently a teacher at New York’s School of Visual Arts (SVA), explains that the motivation behind establishing the Design Research, Writing and Criticism programme at SVA was to teach students to start unpacking all facets of design:

We needed more writing in design that was not just trade journalism, but that looked at design from various angles and various lenses.

The purpose of the programme is to explore intelligent and insightful critique of design and how it exists through various forms of media.

“There’s a whole range of topics that come under this umbrella of criticism,” says Heller, “not just it’s good or bad, and research is a key element of that.”

The art director’s work on logos has greatly influenced how we think about symbolism in design. Here, he elaborates on what this means in our new world of branding.

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