Ellen Lupton is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City and founding director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. An author of numerous books and articles on design, she is a public-minded critic, frequent lecturer, and AIGA Gold Medalist. Read More

The Myth of the Working Mom

Essay published on AIGA Voice, September 12, 2006. Read more →

Typography in the 1990s

Essay published on Printmag.com, October 25, 2009.

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Design and Social Life

Essay published in Design Life Now: National Design Triennial (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, 2006).

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Learning to Love Software

Essay published in Artifact 1(3): 149-158 (2007).

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Univers Strikes Back

Essay published in Helen Armstrong, Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009). Co-authored with Julia Lupton.

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The Designer as Producer

“The Designer as Producer,” essay by Ellen Lupton, published in The Education of a Graphic Designer, ed. Steven Heller (New York: Allworth Press, 1998), 159-62.

Reprinted in Graphic Design: Now in Production, ed. Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2012), 12-13.

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Broken Home

House Broken Read more →


Heirloom Chicken Wing Read more →

Free Font Manifesto

A small but growing number of designers and institutions are creating typefaces for the public domain. Gathered here are notes from a controversial 2006 lecture about “free fonts.” Read more →

How to Write a Book Proposal

Readers are sometimes curious about how to prepare a book proposal. In my experience, an effective book proposal includes some or all of the following elements. Read more →

Swim Suit Stats

When people started swimming 50,000 years ago, no one bothered with swim suits. Why get the fur wet on your new caveman outfit? When cultural norms demanded that bodies stay covered, skinny dipping went underground and bathing attire was born. Changes in the history of swimsuit design reflect shifting cultural values as well as new beliefs about athletic performance. We’ve seen the body go from naked to covered to nearly nude—and back again. Recent athletic competitions have raised ethical questions about extreme swimwear: is it fair, or is it doping?

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Graphic Design I Syllabus, Fall 09

Instructor: Ellen Lupton, elupton (at) designwritingresearch.org
Teaching Assistant: Molly Hawthorne
Maryland Institute College of Art

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Eccentric to Whom?

“Eccentric to Whom?” Essay by J. Abbbott Miller, published in special issue of AIGA Journal of Graphic Design on eccentricity, edited by Steven Heller, 1992 Read more →

Design and Production in the Mechanical Age

“Design and Production in the Mechanical Age” (excerpt), essay by Ellen Lupton, published in Deborah Rothschild, Ellen Lupton, and Darra Goldstein, Graphic Design in the Mechanical Age: Selections from the Merrill C. Berman Collection. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998. pp 50-81. Read more →

Gummy World

“Gummy World: Thoughts on the Graphical User Interface,” essay by Ellen Lupton, originally published on AIGA Voice, July 16, 2004. Read more →

Going Public

Essay by Ellen Lupton, published in Print magazine (January/February 2005).

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Fluid Mechanics: Typography Now

“Fluid Mechanics: Typographic Design Now,” essay by Ellen Lupton, published in Donald Albrecht, Steven Holt, and Ellen Lupton, Design Culture Now: National Design Triennial. New York: Princeton Architectural Press and Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2000. Read more →

Rough Ideas: New Design from Israel

“Rough Ideas: New Design from Israel,” (excerpt), essay by Ellen Lupton, published in New Design from Israel. New York: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2006. Published in conjunction with the exhibition Solos: New Design from Israel, 2006. Read more →

Deconstruction and Graphic Design

Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller. Published in special issue of Visible Language on graphic design history, edited by Andrew Blauvelt (1994). This is an earlier version of the essay “Deconstruction and Graphic Design,” published in our book Design Writing Research.

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Critical Wayfinding

“Critical Wayfinding,” essay by Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller, published in The Edge of the Millennium,. ed. Susan Yelavich. New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1993. 220-232. Read more →

How Books are Sold

“How Books are Sold.” Essay by Ellen Lupton, posted on AIGA Voice, April 4, 2006.

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Writing 101

“Writing 101: Visual or Verbal.” Posted to AIGA Voice, January 2009. Read more →

Grids (review)

Book review for I.D. Magazine, 2009. Hannah B. Higgins, The Grid Book (MIT Press, 2009) and
Carsten Nicolai, Grid Index (Gestalten, 2009). Read more →

Important Artifacts (book review)

Book review for I.D. (International Design) Magazine, 2009. Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry. A novel by Leane Shapton. New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2009. Read more →

Why Collaborate?

Essay, 2005. Read more →

White Space

Essay, 2009. First published in Ambidextrous, Stanford D-School Magazine. Read more →

Modern Design Theory

“Writing Lessons: Modern Design Theory,” unpublished essay by Ellen Lupton, written for graduate seminar taught by Rosemary Bletter, City University of New York Graduate Center, 1988.

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Reskilling the Art Student

“The Reskilling of the American Art Student.” Essay by Ellen Lupton, filed in Voice: AIGA Journal of Design, March 29, 2005.

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Savage Diary

Unpublished essay, written for a graduate seminar at University of Baltimore with Stuart Moulthrop, 2003. A mother thinks about theories of literacy and representation in the digital age while observing her tween-age son work and play with media.

Science of Typography

Essay by Ellen Lupton, “Cold Eye: Big Science,” Print magazine, Summer 2003.

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Skin: New Design Organics

“Skin: New Design Organics,” essay by Ellen Lupton, published in Ellen Lupton, Skin: Surface, Substance and Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. Book published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2002.

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Does That Look Green to You?

Essay, 2009. Read more →

Bathrooms and Kitchens

“The Bathroom, the Kitchen, and the Aesthetics of Waste,” introduction by Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller to the book The Kitchen, the Bathroom, and the Aesthetics of Waste: A Process of Elimination (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992).

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The Producers

“The Producers,” essay by Ellen Lupton, published in Ellen Lupton, Susan Yelavich, Donald Albrecht, and Mitch Owen, Inside Design Now: National Design Triennial, 2003. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003. T-shirt by Geoff McFetridge.

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Underground Matriarchy

“Underground Matriarchy in Graphic Design,” essay by Laurie Haycock Makela and Ellen Lupton, published in Eye magazine, 1994. Read more →

Women Graphic Designers

Excerpt from essay by Ellen Lupton from Pat Kirkham, ed. Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000. London: Yale University Press, 2000. Read more →