Perspective

In April 2005, a series of aluminium stools I designed for Magis was shown at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. When I went to see the display at the trade fair, in contrast to the other exhibits drawing attention under the spotlights, I found my three stools places in a corner of the booth serving as rest seats for tired exhibition-goers. People probably didn’t even think that they were design pieces. I must admit I was a bit shocked by this, and a little depressed. Of course I’d designed stools that anyone might normally use in different situations, and was also hoping that they would prove popular with many different customers, so the fact that people went ahead and sat on them instead of viewing them as exhibited objects was, in a sense, perfectly in keeping with that aim. Or so I tried to convince myself, though it was hard to take an enlightened view of things in such a showcase venue. That evening, however, Jasper Morrison called to tell me he’d seen my stools. Here I’d been feeling dejected, yet he was enthusing like a child who’s discovered some new treat: ‘That’s Super Normal!’

Naoto Fukasawa, in Super Normal

As a designer at Vignelli Associates, I had followed the work of M&Co. with interest and admiration, noting how often they broke every design rule in the world with cheekiness and impunity. I arrived at my meeting with Tibor, brimming with notions about how my book design would embody the irreverence of the M&Co. worldview.

Tibor listened patiently to my ideas — there were lots of them — and then paused for a long time. ‘Well, yes, you could do some stuff like that,’ he responded carefully. ‘Or, we could do something like this. You could work out a good clear grid. We could edit all the images really carefully. Then you could do a really nice clean layout, perfect pace, perfect sequence’ he added with a smile, ‘and then we could fuck it up a little'

Michael Bierut, in Design Observer