Paula Scher at D&AD

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Attended a great D&D President’s Lecture last night with Paula Scher talking about the history of strange circumstances that has brought her to her exciting position which dissects the design and fine art world. It was really refreshing to hear such a throwaway, and perhaps irreverent, view on what has become a hugely iconic body of work, especially from a partner at, arguably, one of the highest profile design studios around.

Really love her map paintings done as personal work and they are a beautiful contrast to the corporate branding and environmental design she has come to be associated with in Pentagram. She describes them as intricate, handmade and wrong, and it is certainly the fallibility of them that makes them so appealing – a totally honest and personal view of cities, countries and the world.

It became clear that whilst the ‘making’ element of her craft-based practice is really important, once this is released, work takes a whole life of it’s own. Nicely demonstrated in her Swatch watch parody of Herbert Matter’s Swiss Travel poster from 1934, of which the emulating/imitating debate is still boiling up today.

Particularly enjoyed a comment on moving from print to environmental design, where Paula said, once over the fear, the only difference was looking at a different swatch book.

Overall, the evening was a fascinating run through of an inspiring history of work, and one that looks unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Stefan Sagmeister told her she couldn’t make any breakthroughs in her 60’s…I wouldn’t count on it.


  • Great talk, quite a cynical little bit she made on the blogosphere wouldn’t you say?