Design Matters

I remember, years ago, one fall evening, driving back from Vermont on i95 south, my wife in the passenger seat strobed by the oncoming traffic, my two children, still young enough to be in kid carseats in the back, sleeping with their heads lolled over in opposite directions, their mouths wide open. I was passing the time by listening to my ipod, which I had loaded up with episodes of Design Matters in an effort to learn something or other about design; my fledgling career. Debbie Millman was interviewing someone (Carin Goldberg, I think, first, though the memory is hazy and I wouldn't swear on it—and then, I imagine, Michael Bierut) and I was concentrating hard enough on the interviews that the long stretch between Brattleboro VT. and Hartford Conn. had gone by without my noticing.

When you practice a profession that you weren't explicitly trained to do, you become not only an autodidact, but a particular kind of neurotic—fretful about what you don't know; panicky of being called out for some bit of ignorance which, unbeknownst to you, turned out to have been critical. Being just such a neurotic, I was in the habit of sleuthing out every way, oblique or otherwise, to fill in the gaps in my design knowledge. Hence the podcasts.

I thought to myself later that night, as we crossed the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge into Manhattan, after having now listened to a dozen or so of these interviews, that I had learned more on that car trip than I had through any and all of the Intro-to-Design books I'm embarrassed to say I bought in those early years of my design career.
About a month or two ago, without preamble, and with no discernible reason for doing so, Debbie asked me to come on the show. Below: the upshot. I'm not sure if any of the subjects that Debbie and I covered will be as helpful or informative as the podcasts I listened to on that drive years ago—I assume they are not, and in any case I'm not trying to build up that particular parallel. I just remember that night drive with such clarity, the feeling of renewal that comes from having young children and a new job, and it seemed, now is an appropriate moment for me to stop and look at the ground I've covered since that fall night. The trip, as it were, has gone by without my really noticing.

So if you are interested, you can listen on the Design Observer site, or download the podcast on itunes. I hope you enjoy it.

Some brief notes to accompany your experience:
The organ at Columbia University's St. Paul's Chapel is an Aeolian Skinner.
Louise Fili's gorgeous jacket for The Lover looks like so:

Editing: Though I am reading submissions from agents to edit, and working behind the scenes on some projects, I am still searching for that perfect project to sign.

John Gall deserves, frankly, the lion's share of the thanks for hiring me at Vintage. Carol Carson for bringing me to Knopf.

Chip Kidd does, actually, sometimes, "suffer fools gladly." He "suffers" me in particular. Except for the "gladly" part.

The fact that books are, among other things, souvenirs, came to me one night while I was writing. This felt like an important realization. In the subsequent months I have learned that many have come up with this same metaphor independently; among others, the great James Bridle, who writes, and speaks beautifully on the topic of the various kinds of work a book does.

And, Fictions III, you ask? It is coming. I promise. not sure when. As soon as i can.

Any other questions, you know where to reach me.