De analoge generatie

Na onze eerste vragen aan Michael Bierut, oprichter van het legendarische bureau Pentagram, komt nu ook de persoonlijke kant aan bod. Willem vroeg Bierut naar zijn voorkeuren en routines als ontwerper, wat hem naast zijn werk inspireert en hoe tot rust te komen in New York.

Chris van Veghel

How has technology influenced you?

I am the last generation of designers who came of age before computers. Not only before computers, but before fax machines and overnight delivery services. Typesetting had to be sent out, usually overnight. Working with an out-of-town client meant that days would pass between submitting work and having it reviewed. This slowness was both good and bad. Good because it afforded the designer time to think through a solution and make a real commitment to a direction. Bad because the possibility of committing irrevocably to the wrong direction made risk taking difficult. I miss the slower pace but I enjoy the freedom.

Typesetting had to be sent out, usually overnight.


Describe a typical day of work.

I live about 30 miles north of New York City up on the Hudson River; I run three miles every morning and then take a train to Grand Central Terminal. So I get up early — 5:30am, usually — answer emails, run, and generally do administrative work on the train ride in. My day is usually consumed with meetings with my 8-person design team, meetings with clients, and meetings with my partners. My wife, who is a psychotherapist, works late most nights, so I’m free to connect with friends after work before I go home to walk the dog.


What is the most satisfying part of the making process? And why?

In the midst of all those meetings, when I get to sit down, alone or in a group, and actually do design work, and have that moment where something snaps into place: that’s what it’s all about. It’s the same feeling as when I was a student, and it’s the reason I do what I do. Doesn’t everyone say this?

New York Times - Signage

Where do you go when you want to relax or get inspired in your city?

Last year, New York City finally introduced a bike share system, so now I try to ride as much as I can. I do it in good weather and bad, when it’s convenient (usually) and when it’s inconvenient (sometimes, but who cares). To glide silently through the mess of New York is the ultimate indulgence.


Michael Bierut is een van de vele vooraanstaande sprekers op What Design Can Do! in Amsterdam dat plaatsvindt op 8 en 9 Mei. Koop je tickets online hier