Tag Archives: Michael Bierut

10 Lessons from Micheal Bierut

20 Apr

Held at the Downtown Independent Theater in Los Angeles on April 19, 2012, AIGA LA proudly presented “Bierut in LA” to a sold out crowd.  Since he had a personal connection to the guest of honor,Michael Lejune introduced Michael Beirut, one of the partners of New York’s Pentagram Studio, to the AIGA Los Angeles Design Community.  Lejune talked about how they met at Harvard, even though they never studied together. While at Harvard, there was only 1 simple rule: everyone was forced to leave his ego behind. Perhaps, it was what gave way to Bierut’s 10 rules, or lessons, that he has learned throughout his career as a designer. Here are Bierut’s 10 Lessons:

Lesson 1: There are no little problems

Lesson 2: Things should be as simple as possible not simpler

Lesson 3: Invention is good, but reinvention is better

Lesson 4: All graphic design is about themes and variations

Lesson 5: If you want to be a problem-solver, you have to love problems

Lesson 6: If you’re digging a hole in the wrong place, making it deeper doesn’t help

Lesson 7: Always include a toy surprise

Lesson 8 The client is your secret weapon

Lesson 9: Make new friends, but keep the old

Lesson 10: Never forget who you’re really working for

Lesson 7 is about always including a surprise toy into a project. This lesson was illustrated through Bierut’s Grand Central Station centennial celebration project.  Planned to be celebrated on February 1, 2013, the centennial committee asked Bierut and his team to design a new logo in commemoration of GCT’s 100 years. Wanting to find something at Grand Central that was immediately identifiable, Bierut identified the iconic clock, which reads 7:13 as the toy surprise. “No matter where you are in the main hall, the clock and the information booth are visible,” says Bierut.  The time has a significant meaning since the Grand Central Station opened in 1913 and can be translated to 7:13 or 19:13 in a trainmaster time.


Lesson 3, a great story about the rebranding of an iconic department store, Saks Fifth Avenue wanted a logo that would be easily recognizable like Tiffany & Co.  Bierut tried different fonts but nothing could be easy enough to stand out. Even though went back to logo(s) that Saks Fifth Avenue had been using all along, he realized that there was one style of the logo that kept recurring through out the years. Dividing the current logo into 64 smaller squares created something new from something current and recognizable. The small squares were also used to create multiple logo variations. Every piece of collateral that was created is the same pattern, which makes every piece of collateral unique.


We would like to send a Huge Thank You to Michael Bierut for sharing his 10 Lessons from his 32 years of design with AIGA Los Angeles. You can also connect with #bierutinla on Twitter to see what other people were saying about the event.