An Incisive New Podcast From Two Legends of Design
Last month, esteemed designers Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut became co-instructors of the Yale School of Management’s first-ever design course. Now, they’re releasing a podcast to accompany the class. The Design of Business/The Business of Design, which launches today on iTunes, will explore the increasingly blurry intersection of design and business, with the help of guest lecturers from their course at Yale.
Not all of those guest lecturers have explicit ties to the design world (restaurateur Danny Meyer and Bruce Cohen, the producer of Milk and American Beauty, were two recent invitees), but that’s the whole point. “What we want to do is use design as a portal into the larger world,” Bierut says. In their class, “12 Design Ideas That Changed the World,” Bierut and Helfand invite their guests to talk about how design has impacted their personal and professional lives. The podcast is an opportunity to expand on stories and ideas discussed in class, while exposing them to a larger audience. “What we try to do with every one of these podcasts is to connect our guests’ personal experiences to the work they’re doing,” Bierut says.
In this way, the show is quite different from Bierut and Helfand’s existing podcast, The Observatory, in which the graphic designers dissect the week’s design news. It’s an unorthodox approach to talking about business, too. But the divergence is intentional. “We’re trying to figure out what the relationship is between that world and the harder-to-quantify world of intuition, emotion, passion that I think designers are used to navigating,” Bierut says.
Though the nature of the relationship between business and design is murky at times, its existence is evident (the name of the podcast alludes to the show’s thesis that, in 2016, there is no distinction between the two). But for most of the students in Helfand and Bierut’s class, and probably for a good portion of their listeners, The Design of Business/The Business of Design will be the first time they’ll see an direct connection drawn between these two worlds. “We liken design to speaking a second language,” Helfand says. The podcast, they hope, will be one way to learn the vocabulary.