Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, graduating summa cum laude in 1980. Prior to joining Pentagram in 1990 as a partner in the firm’s New York office, he worked for ten years at Vignelli Associates, ultimately as vice president of graphic design.
Bierut’s clients at Pentagram have included the Alliance for Downtown New York, Benetton, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Alfred A. Knopf, the Walt Disney Company, Mohawk Paper Mills, Motorola, MillerCoors, the Toy Industry Association, Princeton University, Yale School of Architecture, New York University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Sex, and the New York Jets. His projects have ranged from the design of “I Want to Take You Higher,” an exhibition on the psychedelic era for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, to serving as design consultant to United Airlines.
Bierut’s recent activities have included the development of a new identity and signage for the expanded Morgan Library and Museum; the development of environmental graphics for the New York Times Building; the design of an identity and public promotion for Philip Johnson’s Glass House; the creation of marketing strategies for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation; the development of a new brand strategy and packaging for luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue; and the redesign of the magazine The Atlantic.
He has won hundreds of design awards and his work is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, all in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany; and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Montreal. He served as president of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1988 to 1990 and is president emeritus of AIGA National. He currently serves as a director of the Architectural League of New York and of New Yorkers for Parks. In 1989, Bierut was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale, in 2003 he was named to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he received the profession’s highest honor, the AIGA Medal, in recognition of his distinguished achievements and contributions to the field. In 2008 he received the Design Mind Award in the National Design Awards presented by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Bierut is a Senior Critic in Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art. He is co-editor of the anthology series Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, published by Allworth Press, and in 1998 he co-edited and designed the monograph Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist. He is a co-founder of the weblog Design Observer and his commentaries about graphic design in everyday life can be heard nationally on the Public Radio International program “Studio 360.” His book Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2007.