Jarrett Fuller

Welcome to Scratching the Surface, the brand new design podcast interested in the intersection of criticism and practice hosted by Jarrett Fuller. Released weekly, each episode will feature conversations with designers, writers, critics, educators and people who do a combination of these. We’ll talk about the role of design criticism, the state of design writing, and try to figure out new ways to talk about graphic design.

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Abbott Miller is a designer, writer, and a partner at Pentagram where he leads a team designing identities, exhibitions, and books. Before Pentagram, Abbott ran a studio, Design Writing Research, with Ellen Lupton and wrote for publications like Eye, Print, and I.D. A monograph of his design and writing, called Design and Content, was published in 2014. In this conversation, Abbott and I talk about where his interest in critical theory came from and how he’s worked to incorporate it into his design work, using writing to find new ways into design, and how his various interests have come together ...

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In the second episode of my miniseries interviewing my professors and advisors from MICA, I talk to my writing professor, Abraham Burickson. In addition to teaching writing at MICA, Abe is also an architect, poet, and performance artist who runs Odyssey Works, a performance group that creates durational performances for audiences of one. In this conversation, Abe and I talk about his background the relationship between design, writing, and performance, design fictions, and creating experiences.

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Adrian Shaughnessy is a designer, writer, and publisher. Along with Tony Brook, he co-founded Unit Editions, an independent publishing company that specializes in design books and monographs for people like Paula Scher and Herb Lubalin. He’s written for publications like Eye and Design Observer and his collected essays were published as a book, also called Scratching the Surface, in 2013. In this episode, Adrian and I talk about his transition from designing to writing, how the design discourse has changed over the course of his career, and the value of a strong design criticism.

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Aggie Toppins is a graphic designer and educator whose work centers around active citizenship and intellectual pursuit. She’s currently teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and maintains an independent studio practice publishing zines, collages, and a fun series called Critical Theory Cocktails. In this episode, Aggie and I talk about her introduction to critical theory and how she introduces challenging texts to her students, how her time at MICA inspired her to start teaching, and why it’s important to decolonize the design discourse.

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Alexander Tochilovsky is a designer, curator, and educator. He’s currently the curator at the Herb Lubalin Study Center and an instructor at Cooper Union. He studied graphic design at Cooper Union and went to graduate school at Cranbrook. In this episode, Alexander and I talk about his background and how he got interested in design, the role of design history in his practice, and how we can do a better job of learning from and teaching history today.

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In this week’s episode of Scratching the Surface, Jarrett talks with architecture critic Alexandra Lange. Alexandra is currently writing for Curbed and has previously written for publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Dwell. In this conversation, we meet in a Brooklyn coffee shop to talk about how one becomes a critic, the role of criticism within the architecture profession, writing for an audience, and Alexandra’s own writing process.

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Alice Twemlow is a design writer, critic, and educator. She was the co-founder and chair of SVA’s Design Criticism program in New York City and is now the Head of the Design Curating and Writing Program at the Design Academy Eindhoven. She also recently published the book, Sifting the Trash, which is a fascinating history of design criticism. In this episode, Alice and I talk about her interest in design and writing, the history of design criticism and how its evolved, and the collapsing borders between the various design disciplines.

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Alissa Walker is the urbanism editor at Curbed where she writes about cities, infrastructure, transportation, and policy. Before that, she was the urbanism editor at Gizmodo and has written extensively about design, cities, and architecture for places like Design Observer, Dwell, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. In this episode, Alissa and I talk about the differences between writing about designed objects and writing about the city, the role of the critic, and how she writes about government, policy, and transportation through the lens of design.

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Allison Arieff is the editorial director of Spur and a columnist for the New York Times where she writes about architecture, design, and cities. Before that, she was the editor-at-large for both Good and Sunset Magazines and was the editor-in-chief at Dwell. In this episode, Allison and Jarrett talk about how she wanted to be a writer since eighth grade, the expanding definition of design, and the relationship between design and policy.

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Anab Jain is a designer, futurist, filmmaker and educator. As Co-founder and Director of Superflux, she hopes to realise the vision of the Studio as a new kind of design practice, responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century. She also teaches at the University Applied Arts in Vienna and gave a TED Talk last year on design’s role in imagining new futures. In this episode, Anab and I talk about Superflux’s blend of client and speculative work, her background in filmmaking, and pushing up against disciplinary boundaries.

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Andrew Blauvelt has been a designer, writer, curator, and educator. He’s currently the director of the Cranbrook Art Museum, a position he’s held since 2015. Before that, he worked at the Walker Art Center in a variety of roles including Senior Curator of Design, Research, and Publishing; Chief of Communications; and Design Director. He also served as Director of Graduate Studies and Chair of the Graphic Design Department at North Carolina State University and has written for a variety of publications on design. In this episode, Jarrett and Andrew walk through his career and talk about how he moved between ...

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Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart are designers, editors, educators, and publishers. Together, they edit and design Bricks from the Kiln, a new journal that ‘centers in and around graphic design.’ In this episode, Matthew, Andrew, and I talk about Bricks from the Kiln and how they started it and what their goals are, how publishing and editing has influenced their design practice, and the overlap between editing, teaching, and writing.

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Andy Chen and Waqas Jawaid are the founders of Isometric Studio, a New York design studio that promotes inclusion, equality & progress. Andy and Waqas were thesis critics at MICA in December and I sat down with them while they were in Baltimore to talk about their backgrounds in sociology and architecture influence their design practice, the value of design criticism in the contemporary design profession, and what type of design writing they’d like to see more of.

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Anne Burdick is a graphic designer, writer, researcher, and educator. She’s the chair of the Art Center College of Design’s Media Design Program and has written for publications like Emigre and Eye. In this episode, Anne and I talk about her own background and journey through design — which we discovered had many parallels to my own design career. We also talk about new modes of practice, the relationships between writing and designing, and asking the big questions of design’s role in society and culture.

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Anne Quito is a designer and writer currently working as a design reporter at Quartz. Anne is the founder of the design studio Design Lab 360 and a recent graduate of SVA’s Design Criticism program. In this episode, I talk with Anne about her design background and her journey into writing, how to write about design for a general audience, and how she wrote her own job description when she joined the Quartz team as a “design reporter.”

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Armin Vit is the co-founder of Under Consideration with his wife Bryony Gomez-Palacio, the site behind popular blogs Brand New, FPO, and SpeakUp. In this conversation, I talk to Armin about how he started writing, why he shut down SpeakUp in 2009, why everyone is critiquing logos now, and how social media is changing the design discourse.

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Brian LaRossa is a designer, illustrator, writer, and reader. He’s a design director at Scholastic, writer for Design Observer, and on the adjunct faculty at CUNY. In this episode, Brian and Jarrett talk about his early resistance to the design world and how discovering its history and culture opened up a new love for the discipline. They also talk about how he started writing, his love of reading, and the similarities between his writing process and design process.

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Bryan Boyer is a partner at Dash Marshall, an architecture and strategic design studio based in New York and Detroit, where he leads their Civic Futures practice. Bryan studied architecture and interior renovation before heading to Finland to help start the Helsinki Design Lab, where he worked on a team that helped improve public institutions through design. In this episode, Bryan and I talk about the value of an architecture degree, the ideas behind strategic design, and the limits of design thinking.

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On this week’s episode, I talk with Bryn Smith, a designer, writer, and editor based in New York City. Bryn is a graduate of SVA’s Design Criticism MFA and the co-author of the new book, Twenty Over Eighty. We talk about her experience in SVA’s program, what a design critic could do at major publications, and how to use design artifacts to write about larger cultural issues.

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Cameron Tonkinwise is a design theorist, educator, and writer based in Australia. He’s written on subjects ranging from sustainability to interaction design, design thinking to systems design and has taught in design institutions around the world. In this conversation, Cameron and I talk about his early interest in philosophy and politics and how design became a way he could bridge the gap between those, the challenges with design’s newfound cultural currency, and how designers need to reconsider how their work lives in the world in this current cultural and political moment.

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Christopher Hawthorne is the Chief Design Officer for the city of Los Angeles, a brand new position appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Before that, he was architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to early 2018. He is Professor of the Practice at Occidental College and has taught at U.C Berkeley, Columbia University, and Southern California Institute of Architecture. In this episode, Jarrett and Christopher talk about this new job and how he’s approaching it, reading Paul Goldberger in high school, and the changing role of the architecture critic.

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Dan Hill is a designer, educator, and writer. He’s currently a director at Arup, a visiting professor at The Bartlett School, and Adjunct professor at RMIT. He’s also the author of Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary, and the long-running blog City of Sound. He previously worked at the Helsinki Design Lab and as director of Fabrica. In this episode, Dan and I talk about the evolution of his career, his vision for a new type of design education, and the role of writing in his work.

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Daniel Eatock is a designer and artist based in London. He studied design at Ravensbourne College and earned his MA from the Royal College of Art. In this episode, Daniel talks to Jarrett about studying design and discovering conceptual art, his resistance to labeling his practice, the role of teaching in his work, and how he’s working towards being more present.

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David Reinfurt is a design polymath operating at the intersection of design, publishing, curation, and exhibitions. His studio, O-R-G, is now a small software company “that programs, publishes, and sells apps, websites, screensavers, and other small chunks of code”. With Stuart Bailey, he’s the co-founder of Dexter Sinister and with Bailey and Angie Keefer, he publishes The Serving Library. In July, I interviewed David about his work across mediums and how they intersect, the fluid boundaries of graphic design and the type of writing around design he enjoys the most.

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