You’ve seen his logos: on the jerseys of the New York Jets, on United Airline’s jets, on Saks Fifth Avenue tote bags (hey, it’s not all jets). Michael Bierut is graphic design’s poster boy. He’s loyal (partner and now owner of the most reputable firm in the world, Pentagram, for 22 years). He’s wise, witty (513,000 people follow him via @DesignObserver on Twitter) and articulate (he’s a design critic on Kurt Anderson’s/Public Radio’s Studio 360).
He doesn’t look like a famous designer. He doesn’t wear trendy eyeglasses or clothes, nor did he ever play the enfant terrible. He married his high school sweetheart, is dad to three kids and lives in the suburbs. But his profound belief in the relevancy of design is evident in his writing and his work, perhaps especially joyful in his voluminous pro bono work. During the 2000 presidential election recount debacle, he designed a poster (to promote the power of design for the American Institute for Graphic Arts) using an enlarged photograph of a faulty/confusing voter’s ballot (remember the hanging chad?) and on top simply laid the poignant words: Design Counts.