The Observatory

Reviews For The Observatory

These two people are just super thinkers, they are endlessly interesting to listen to.
Whether you’re well established as a change agent in the design ecosystem, or just getting started carving out your authentic niche - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Michael and Jessica do an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of building a thriving portfolio as a designer, and life you can be proud of - from leaders who’ve actually experienced success themselves. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!


By 5339kln
I just discovered this show and listened to Episode 120, The Federalist. I did enjoy it, but where are the links Jessica mentions??? She says “on our website” but I can’t find them on Design Observatory site.
Topics nicely varied. But what i love most are the voices of michael and jennifer.
I really enjoy listening to these two, but the audio gets really loud then really quiet a lot and I am constantly turning it up and down in my car.
Professional Designers with always relevant topics about design and the world today. Should be on every designers podcast list.
Love the thoughtful insights but the fluctuating volume swells is so distracting I have to be careful when I listen. Please fix!! Honestly- I listen to tons of podcasts and never have a problem except this one. The hosts deserve better production.
Content in The Observatory episodes is great and always worth a listen. However, the episodes can be hard to listen to because of the fluctuating volume of the speakers' voices. Seems like Michael and Jessica move their heads too much when they are talking while the microphone stays still. On some episodes this means I cannot listen to them in certain settings because the low parts are either inaudible or the loud parts are overpowering.
Listening to Michael Bierut geek out over design is the best. Both he and Jessica are so smart, so knowledble, so articulate and so well read I learn so much from every episode.
Love the insights, storytelling and insider look at the design world scene.
The hosts always find topics I missed in the week's design news, and I love it. They have a great rapport and speak with intelligence and humor. Thanks for a great podcast.
Jessica and MIchael present more than concepts for thought. They often change minds through their in-focus recall of their education. Brilliant minds well prepared. Easily my favorite podcast. I save every episode for times when I can listen undisturbed. I am always smarter for listening.
Often design podcasts are connected to professional practices only. This could be good. But Design Observer goes beyond that. It infuses design in Daily culture, it looks at society and current facts from a designer’s perspective. I absolutely love the interaction between Michael and Jessica. I have yet to find a more thoughtful duo in the Podcast Store.
As an engineer/ product designer, I used to find this episode valuable for the occasional insight on topics I haven't considered. Sadly, it's degraded into regurgitating the same political tropes which abound in media these days. There are far more people that do a much better job/ are more qualified to do that. I didn't subscribe to this for a couple of designer's take on politics. Having an audience is a privilege, earned by living up to the promise of your platform. It's too bad, I used to like this podcast (and Michael's Kermit like voice) and haven't found many good sources for learning about design. Scratch this one off the list.
Michael and Jessica connect the dots of what's happening in the worlds of pop-culture, politics, entertainment, and design. It's always engaging, usually pretty nerdy, and often makes me laugh. I most appreciate that it's a living testament that the best designers stay curious by exploring many different worlds beyond what's familiar and expected.
Helfand and Bierut are smart, well spoken and on top of design. I always learn something interesting. The show notes at the DO website are thorough and provide links to the designs, essays, history, objects, etc. discussed in each show. As another reviewer mentioned, Helfand has a tendency to talk over Bierut, but he's too nice to say, "Let me finish my &*%#ing thought!" His graciousness makes it all work, and Helfand is brilliant so she naturally has a lot to say. They'll work out that flow. The show is one of my favorite podcasts. (I felt compelled to come back six months later to say they worked this out! A fantastic podcast.)
love it
I love their critiques and the way they dive deep into style and design decisions.
Never mind that you have two of the best current design thinkers in one podcast, The Observatory keeps the discussion refreshingly expansive. No insular design talk here—or at least when MIchael and Jessica do get design-nerdy, there's always some connection made to the world outside the designer bubble. If the other design-focused podcast 99% Invisible highlights fascinating examples of design out in the world, The Observatory goes further by intelligently connecting disparate design-focused topics and why design matters so much in everyday life.
These delightful podcasts are always intriguing, rich in insight, and thought-provoking. They're (both the podcasts and podcasters) smart, humorous and humble—with a healthy dash of snark. Renaissance people, Helfand and Bierut place design in the crucial large arena of . . . well . . . everything. I just love these conversations (as well as The Design of Business|The Business of Design).
Smart and witty weekly discussions about the latest design news. Brought to you by designers, Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand. Both hosts are a deep well of design knowledge. Also both hosts are refreshingly contrarian, and open about their favorite television.​
I feel like I'm eavesdropping in on conversation that I'd love to be at the table, except they are much smarter and aware on all things design. Excellent, interesting content.
I always look forward to these discussions they are very engaging and keep people up to date on current design topics that you may or may not know about. Best design podcast I have came across so far.
I always learn so much from these two. They keep it casual and current, makes for an enjoyable weekend listen (when there's time to Google all of the books and people they mention).
I love this podcast and how you have two incredibly articulated, open minded, and brilliant designers that talk about recent issues and controversies. I definitely feel smarter after listening to Bierut and Helfand as a graphic design student so please please continue producing this amazing podcast.
There are many interesting interview podcasts, but it is much more of a rarity to find one that focuses on discussing the state of design and culture. Bierut and Helfand provide great insight and are always interesting to listen to.
I'm trying to wrap my head around what I like (a lot of things) and don't like (a whole lot) about design. Helfand and Bierut help out a lot, by presenting a broad view of design and its place in my life. I almost said our lives, but I'm interested right now in what it (design) does for me. Maybe I'll be interested in the more social aspect later on. They nail it. For me. In part, that's because the design program at University of Cincinnati intersected with my life just enough to provide a sort of grounding, and Bierut comes out of that program. But it doesn't matter. I usually catch The Observatory the day it is posted, follow the links (from the Design Observer site), and get one step closer to understand what I like and what I don't like about design.
The Observatory is the smartest discussion on design I've come across in the podcast world. Michael and Jessica bring a great deal of experience and design thinking to each episode, and it's enthralling to hear their commentary on everything from current events to typography. As I listen, I feel like I'm overhearing their conversation at a coffee shop, and I, sitting at the next table, cannot help but lean closer to listen in on the candid discourse. I'd be tempted to buy them both a coffee, so I could join them at the table and share in the conversation. For the present time however, I'll just keep listening on my iPhone and earnestly awaiting each new episode.
Michael Beirut is truly an expert and his way of taking, anyone can understand and keep engaged even when it's something as mundane as type. One of the better design podcast available to date.
Nice to get thoughts on current events/products/designs from two prominent designers. Always alerts me to things I should check out
My only complaint is that while well-intentioned and well-articulated, Jessica Helfand often cuts Michael off and talks over him in long rants. It becomes very distracting and is definitely something that could be improved on.