Meet Abbott Miller—Design and Content

You've probably heard of Abbott Millerbefore. He's a design legend, having done many notable projects, written several books and garnered many accolades to include a medal from AIGA and awards from the Art Director's Club, Cooper Union, the Society for Publication Designers and a Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. You may have seen his work in a museum collection at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, or the Bibliotheque Nationale De France.

He's also an SEGD member.

Abbott Miller is currently a partner at Pentagram, a faculty member at MICA, and along with Ellen Lupton (his frequent collaborator and spouse) he pioneered the concept of "designer as author". They believe that content and form should depend on each other, and in 1989 founded a multidisciplinary studio called Design/Writing/Research. Much of that early work was as much about writing as it was about design. His work at Pentagram focuses on designing exhibitions, identities, and various publications. Writing is still an integral part of his practice and his latest book, Abbott Miller: Design and Content was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2014.

Abbott Miller: Design and Content is a hefty volume, whose bright, crisp title lettering on the fabric cover hints at its rich, vivid filling. Emblazoned on the back cover is a perfectly put statement about the role of the designer connecting form and content:

"The push and pull of design and content has made me shift, at different points, between the prerogatives of an author and the instincts of a dyed-in-the-wool formalist. Many designers experience this split between the hedonism of the eye and the obligations of function, message, and content. ... but being a graphic designer depends on one's ability to separate form and content, and put them back together again."

The monograph chronicles his work in four categories: books, exhibitions, magazines, and identity. It's a personal survey, showcase and thought-provoking commentary on why designers should have an active role in shaping both form and content. In an interview with Design Observer, he says "This is about a third or a quarter of my work, digested so that it kind of tells a bigger story about design practice."

The book has also been adapted into an exhibition, at the University of Maryland Albin O. Kuhn Gallery,and Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico. For the University of Maryland exhibition, the gallery space was organized by practice area, and continuity was achieved using repeating graphic patterns developed from existing works.

Abbott Miller is not only the subject of exhibitions but the creative director on notable recent projects like Shakespeare, Life of an Iconfor the Folger Shakespeare Library, and 100 Years of Type & Design,an SEGD Global Design Awards winner. He does a lot of work for museums and institutions, from the identity for the Guggenheim and Whitney Museum of American Art, to environmental graphics for the Barnes Foundation.

What's next for Abbott Miller?

He'll be speaking at the E&E, Exhibitions & Experience Design event,August 18 in Washington, DC, where you can meet him (and eleven other experts) and even have your copy of Abbott Miller: Design and Content signed by the author!

Miller will be part of a panel on Creating Meaningful Experiences (in the context of the museum), which seeks to help designers create exhibitions that connect to visitors' lives outside the museum through aligning narrative goals to actionable, helpful takeaways.

E&E is our most popular Summer event...(ever and it's only three weeks away!) And it's the most popular for good reason because you'll meet incredible speakers, study the most inspiring projects, go on informative tours and connect with exhibition and experience designers from around the world. Don't miss out, register today!

Join us for the E&E event!



Wikipedia |Design Observer |Pentagram 

New Member Offer

Click to access the 2020 "Never been an SEGD member before" $185 sign up offer

Upcoming SEGD Events

2021 Experience Philadelphia
Open Up, Conversations with Cybelle