Debbie Millman interviews

We must be communicators of the world. We help other people see things. This is at the heart of what we do.


"Our lifestyles now are a kind of cheap version of what was formerly privilege."

"I believe that good design is fundamentally orientated around truth, and once it loses its truth, you've lost it completely. The semiotics of good design imply that if we've redesigned a magazine or a hotel or a hospital, it is now better; that new problems have been solved; that new challenges have been addressed. In contemporary projects, we're often not making things better, we're just making things different. [...] It's just decoration. Design is losing its essential values because it's being used for the wrong purposes."

"We must be communicators of the world. We help other people see things. This is at the heart of what we do."

"Try to find work that has meaning. You have to help invest meaning into the work."

"You've got to like what you're doing, and then you do it well. You've got to like what you're doing, and you have to put meaning into it for others."


the designer as a master communicator who has an obligation to inspire social change

"I like what I do. But I am worried about what the state of the profession will be in the future. I'm worried about the state of the world."


Simplifying complex systems

On a quest to whittle down the sometimes bewildering intricacies of software and interactivity in an effort to "humanize" technology

Reducing things to a minimum as a natural reaction to the complexity of his own life


"Graphic design is, at its core, more of an altruistic activity. You're helping someone else express a message in an appropriate way, or in a way that's memorable. But I strongly believe design is a dichotomy. Design is supposed to be about something else, and not about you; but I think the only way it's actually any good - and to get people to care about it - is if it's also about you at the same time."


At the heart of her work is a rigorous exploration of both the magical and the logical, and what she herself describes as a lifelong interest in the complexity of language and the overlapping relationship of meaning, form and content


"I love that design is a way to translate a language for an audience. It's a way to interpret words and messages and stories and narratives and ideas, and put them in front of people in a way that makes it easier for them to understand."

"There's a kind of academic literacy about us and our approach."


"First and foremost, I believe you must have a strong idea about your work. For me, the interesting part of design is feeling confident about the content and the approach, and then struggling with form. After all the conceptualization, then you create form, and form is very unpredictable. I think that form is motivated, or rationalized, in a lot of my work and that the design is fairly intellectual."


"Designers take care of everything around us. Everything that is around us [...] has been designed by somebody. I think that it is my responsibility to make the work better than it is. That is my number one priority. The second priority is to decrease the amount of vulgarity by replacing the vulgarity with things that are more refined."