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  • 07.20.09

Introducing Guest Blogger Ellen Lupton: Welcoming Design Into Our Daily Lives

When I’m taking a weekend away from work, the last things I usually want to grab for reading materials are the design books sent to me from publishers that march like a Great Wall of Nice Typefaces across my desk.

When I’m taking a weekend away from work, the last things I usually want to grab for reading materials are the design books sent to me from publishers that march like a Great Wall of Nice Typefaces across my desk. But there was something about the cover of Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things, with its Osterizer blender about to mix and potentially liquefy everything from a sprinkled donut to a roll of Scotch tape, that just begged to be stashed in my pool-bound bag. Good thing I did: This book should be required summer reading for designers.

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Ellen Lupton has written lots of books. Some of them herself–Thinking With Type–some with her grad students at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore–DIY: Design It Yourself–and some with her sister Julia (with contributions from her own children, Jay and Ruby)–DIY: Kids. And besides being an influential author, educator and designer herself (she was awarded AIGA’s Medal in 2007), Ellen also has a pretty nifty day job, as curator of contemporary design at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Here’s where Ellen can put everyday objects alongside cutting-edge design for the Cooper-Hewitt’s incredible exhibitions like the 2001 show Skin, and the current show Design for a Living World, which we’ve written about here before, curated with her husband J. Abbott Miller, a partner at Pentagram and frequent collaborator.

When I tapped Ellen to be a guest blogger, she fired back with an idea already in mind: Her posts would explore something she calls the Visibility Principle. “The links between privacy and productivity, interaction and inspiration, autonomy and creativity,” she explained. I was intrigued. She went on. “Making people, objects, ideas, or messages visible–and knowing when to let them hide–is central to the design process,” she says. “Whether you manage a big office or run your own show from home, you can use The Visibility Principle to enhance your productivity.” I think I’ll let Ellen take it from there.

Here are a few of Ellen’s latest and greatest hits:

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Design for a Living World, open at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum through January 4, 2010. Curated by Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller. Photo by John Madere.

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Skin. Exhibition at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2001. Curated by Ellen Lupton.

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Design Your Life, 2009, cover designed by Chip Kidd; illustration by Ellen Lupton. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin.

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Indie Publishing, 2008. Edited by Ellen Lupton; cover designed by Kelley McIntyre. Published by Princeton Architectural Press.

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D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself, 2006. Edited by Ellen Lupton. Cover designed by Mike Weikert; photo by Nancy Froehlich. Published by Princeton Architectural Press.

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Thinking with Type, 2004. By Ellen Lupton. Published by Princeton Architectural Press.

[Ellen’s headshot by John Madere.]

Read Ellen Lupton’s Design Your Life blog
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About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.

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