Michael Bierut’s 100 day design project

When I was directing shows at Lincoln Center for the writers group PEN, I had a meeting with George C. Wolfe at the Public Theater and, glancing over his shoulder at an amazing poster for a Nilo Cruz play, mentioned that I was looking for a designer for our event posters.  He gave me a number for Paula Scher at Pentagram — both her name and the firm’s sounded familiar but, mercifully, at the time I did not understand the full weight of their position in the design world — and she agreed to design the posters (click to see examples for James Baldwin, Yukio Mishima, and Flannery O’Connor) mostly as an act of charity because she believed in PEN’s mission of defending free expression.  So for two years the happiest part of my job was trekking to the Pentagram office near the Flatiron and stealing glimpses of how legendary design gets made.

The project above is the work of another celebrated Pentagram partner, Michael Bierut, who also teaches at the Yale School of Art.  He asks his student to conceive a design project (see it here) that can be done every day, without interruption, for 100 days.  At first this can sound like a gimmick, but the challenge of finding a design idea with a hundred iterations that can be executed quickly is formidable and as a practice it forces designers to do what Pentagram does well: great design that is not fussy or complicated but is based on fluency in the language of communicating ideas.

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2 Responses to “Michael Bierut’s 100 day design project”

  1. SuWest says:

    Sam Smidt in Palo Alto. CA gave a 100-ideas assignments to beginning designers for over two decades. I like this one-a-day twist on the idea. It is a sure way for any designer, whatever their level of experience, to re-awaken their creativity and explore new ideas instead of just doing variations of a few.

  2. Its very knowledge worthy and helpful workshop both for the photoshop beginner and expert one!

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