Michael Bierut is a renowned graphic designer, design critic and educator. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio; he studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
Bierut was vice president of graphic design at Vignelli Associates. Since 1990 he has been a partner in the New York office of Pentagram where he is responsible for leading a team of graphic designers who create identity design, environmental graphic design and editorial design solutions.
His list of clients consists of massive corporations that need to be embraced by the masses: Walt Disney, United Airlines, Motorola, the New York Jets, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bierut claims that he's not creative; instead, he likens his job to that of a doctor who tends to patients – "the sicker, the better."
He has won hundreds of design awards and his work is represented in several permanent collections including: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the Denver Art Museum; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany; and the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich, Switzerland.
Digging through the 86 notebooks he's kept over the course of his career, he came up with his 5 secrets of design:
1.) Listen first, then design
2.) Don’t avoid the obvious
3.) The problem contains the solution
4.) Indulge your obsessions
5.) Love is the answer
In an essay on Design Observer, Bierut explains that it took him half his career to realize design is really about the ability to make connections to other things. He cautions designers, young and old, to remember this above all else. “Not everything is design,” he writes. “But design is about everything. So do yourself a favour: be ready for anything.”
AIGA Design Archives
Design Sojourn: 5 Secrets of Design Video