Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Transcribed Michael Bierut Interview

I've just finished transcribing half of Michael Bierut's Interview (part 1/2). It was 11min in lenght and as a total of 2.030 words! The rest of my group are transcribing the rest.


The first question mike, put you off a bit...are you religious?

Hmm I was raised very serious Roman Catholic. Went to a catholic school, Mass every Sunday, my mum wanted to be a priest for a while, I actually considered it. But I’ve since falling away a bit but I’m still, I have to admit I’m still fascinated by the idea of faith and spirituality. And can’t quite bring myself to be clear myself has an atheist. Yet, wouldn’t say I’m religious today.

Do you have rituals?

Hmm not religious rituals but I have many, many, many private rituals that I undergo. I think that I am sort of an obsessive compulsive and so there’s lots of things that I do that I hmm that I’ve never actually discussed in public never mind on the radio. There not like dirty or anything, just things that I don’t think are..


Yea, they’re just peculiar that’s all.

Are you superstitious for example?

Hmm no, I’m not superstitious at all. I don’t think that bad luck will happen. From what I know of people that have obsessive compulsive disorder, it’s not so much about being superstitious, it seems to just be something about having like this urge, like this itch you need to scratch and if its left unscratched it just sort of noring at you. You know, for instance, hmm you know I work on this, I contribute to this hmm blog called Design Observer and if, I mean if you have a blog yourself you that when you post an article there’s like a time setting about when it was posted and I always have to post them on like a 5min interval. I can’t like post something at 7:58:37sec. It has to be 7:55:00sec. And it makes no difference to anyone. I don’t think the time actually appears publically. But hmm if I don’t do that I sort of feel likes it’s kind of messy and incomplete and something’s horribly, horribly wrong. That’s one of the little harmless ones I have. I have other ones that are a little more time consuming.

But do always like, if you use like a photo inside a layout, it always has to be like 80 or 90%. It can’t be like 88.735%.

Yea, sort of, yea it’s that kind of thing. And then I’m in charge of the laundry in my house and I’m fairly notorious for hmm how everything is folded and sorted in a special way and I have three kids, none of whom share my interest in neatly folded clothes and the minute I put the clothes in their room they just sort of riffle through the piles, knock them over, get them out of the special order I placed them in so hmm and every time this happens, well, I think, next week I’m not really gonna, I’m just gonna carry it up in a bucket and dump it on their floor. They’ll be perfectly content that way but I can’t do that actually.

Isn’t that always like the quintessence of the designer in you? Because I’m referring to Alan Lupton who said like, her religion was one of our questions and she answered - well design is my religion. Because basically the way you make your bed, like everything yet has to be’re like designing your life basically…

Yes, yea I think so. Hmm When you become a designer you learn that you are, hmm I’m not sure if you become a designer because you are sensitive to things other people are unconscious of or not conscious of or if you develop that peculiar consciousness as result of your education and your experience but certainly you start to become aware of other things that hmm that other people would have not noticed and irritated by things that are wrong that most people wouldn’t notice were wrong. And­ hmm and you know, I think you have some at the end you have conviction, you have faith actually that those little details, even if their completely hmm, you know unnoticed by most the world they somehow make some difference somehow. That if they’re not done correctly that something, something’s wrong and the world is a little less because of it.

And do you think to become a designer; do you think talent is part of it? I mean, I never quite understand what the word talent is. Or because there’s always a contradiction between talent or you work very hard and you can achieve something, how do you...

Hmm I think I hmm I mean most designers I admire I would say are talented. But like you I have never really tried to really scrutinize what that word means. I mean each of them sort of, each of the designers I have really admired through history, the ones I admire today, have a, many of them were here at this conference actually. Hmm they each have sort of a unique point of view and ability to make hmm leaps to create things out of nothing that hmm you know that I wouldn’t be able to, that I think most people wouldn’t, that in fact, that if their uniquely talented if you will be able to do things that no one that they could do in a way.­

But is that do you think inheritance, or is it something that you can learn?

Hmm I think, I actually think there is an element of to this of inheritance actually. As I said I have three kids and you sort of hmm the debate about of what’s in, what you’re born with verses what you learn is sort of, to my mind at least closed once you start raising children. You see how completely different they are and you can actually almost track that difference to the moment they emerge from the womb. The one that comes out crying sort of will sort of do that for the rest of his or her life. The one that’s happy and content will sort of in a way be happy... (Laughs).I mean there’s sort there’s some element that sort of definitely preducent. But you know in the other hand I think that hmm you know anyone who’s gone to design school usually can recall many talented people on their class and hmm and you know not everyone who’s talented actually becomes you know successful by any way you would like to measure it you know some of them just hmm you know end up either changing careers or kind of falling by the way side a little bit or something. And I think that just has to do, not with talent but how, how hmm eager you are to work, how willing you are to work hard and I think most importantly how hmm your ability to kind of continue learning and being curious and growing even after you’ve been working for five years, or ten years or twenty years of fifty years.

Do you have a hero?

I have lots of heroes, I have heroes within the profession, I have heroes outside the profession, hmm should I name some?

Maybe...some examples?

Outside of the profession

Outside of the profession, well I mean, I hmm I actually have a, because I really love music and hmm and I’m, I admire a lot of musicians but I really admire songwriters. I sort of feel like I can understand improvisation, you know, I mean I couldn’t, you know, I can’t play the trumpet at all but if anything I could, I couldn’t improvise like Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis obviously hmm because their absolutely unique but hmm there’s something about that I sort of, I understand the mechanism by which that happens. Song writing though, hmm the ability to kind of like write a melody and then to combine it with words in a way that will resonate with audiences all over the world, will evoke specific, unique experiences for each person that hears it hmm, you know to me that’s just like a miracle, I just cant really, to me I just don’t understand how it works.

There’s is like a comparison with designing, I mean It’s the same thing, some design might appeal to some much people that really sparks something with them

Yes, in a way, in the other parallel I like as well is that hmm musicians hmm, they really aren’t artists, you know, they just are creating, actually hello, their just sort of hmm Jazz musician at least is on stage has an… will have an enormous amount of training and will work within specific kind of constructs in terms of the conventions of hmm of you know the kind of jazz your playing, however their free to improvise. You know hmm, song writers, particularly through, you know popular song writers through hmm you know history of the 20th century at least, from the earliest stage of the invention of recorded music and to today more or less, they just have jobs. I mean, that’s like a job, that’s commercial art, old fashioned commercial art. And in a way that sort seems a little bit more like design. You frequently have clients, if you have, hmm you know Rodgers and Hart or hmm George and Ira Gershwin their writing songs for Broadway show, the show has to go on, on September 15th, it has to have this many numbers for this many performers, they try things out, if they don’t work they have to change them and fix them. And you know, and some things they do work really well and other things they do sort of end up being forgotten. And then a few things end up being songs that hmm you know, that you and I could hear in our minds today, that you know, that you may not be thinking of you know, of Ella FitzGerald’s version of ‘From this moment on’ but you might be thinking of the Pet boys shop version of... you know, it sort of it can be, you know, all kinds, the idea of making, that to me seems like something that’s both stable and vary designed in a way but lasting and opened to interpretation by not just all the people ,the musicians that might interpret the song but also all the different people that hear it, that associate it with their own specific life experiences. So, you know, I mean, you know, my heroes and I like anyone from hmm, Irving Berlin or Cole Porter or George Gershwin or Richard Rogers to hmm you know, the guys that wrote the songs at Motown where there is you know, Eddy Holland and And they and they and they they and they were like you don’t need to do real art, at the time they all felt that they were just, you know, at the time I read interviews with them, and at the time they thought they were just selling out hex and just doing it for a quick buck. What they really wanted to do be in smoky jazz clubs, really just kind of like, you know ,improvising you know, incredible, you know, riffs into the smoky night, that would be remembered at that moment and then forgotten thereafter. And then they would wake up the next morning, go in and slave away at Motown and those things are captured forever, in my opinion at least. Other people would probably think its trash but that’s the miracle of music you know. Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, who wrote like all the supreme songs, all the four top songs, you know and just would go in everyday, punch the clock in Detroit, industrial production style and just like write a song that had to be ready to go by noon so that the Supremes could come in and sing it and then their songs that if you, that if I hear today, it reminds me of exactly of where I was that moment in 1967. You know, I mean, how does it work, it’s a miracle, you know.

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