Design Matters: Best of 2017

Published on 2018-01-13

Hi everyone!

Design Matters had an exciting year in 2017. I interviewed an extraordinary caliber of guests including the writers Seth Godin, Brian Koppelman, Anil Dash, Elizabeth Alexander, Brene Brown, Esther Perel, Steven Heller, Emma Donoghue, Tim Ferriss and Richard Saul Wurman; designers and illustrators Nicholas Blechman, Mike Rigby, Barry Blitt, Sam Winston, Brian Collins and Rochelle Udell, artists Marina Abramovic, Deborah Kass, Mike Mills and Jonathan Adler, performers Catie Lazarus and Sarah Jones and the director of the musical Hamilton, Thomas Kail. I also did a record number of live events with guests including Paula Scher, Zac Posen, Chip Kidd, Luke Woods and DJ Stout.

In this podcast I look back on some of the conversations I had in 2017. The show features excepts of my conversations with the following people, and more:

This past fall I spoke with Thomas Kail, the director of Hamilton. The musical became an instant hit, and one of the hottest tickets ever on Broadway. Kail got his start in New York when he was hired by Allen Hubby, the owner of The Drama Book Shop, which had a 50-seat performance space in a basement. I asked Tommy about some of his early productions, and about how he met Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics for Hamilton.

I also spoke with Elizabeth Alexander. Elizabeth has published six books of poems, two collections of essays, and a play. Her book “American Sublime” was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2009, she wrote and read “Praise Song for the Day,” for President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Then her world came crashing down. A few days after her husband turned 50, he died suddenly, leaving her with two young sons. Alexander turned her loss and love into a breathtaking and stunning memoir, “The Light of the World.”

I spoke with Mike Mills in his hometown of Los Angeles. Mike is a designer and artist who works in a lot of different media. He’s designed album covers for the Beastie Boys, produced commercials for Nike, and made everything from skateboards to scarves. His artwork is collected by museums, and his feature films include the Oscar-nominated “20th Century Women.” Mills grew up in a creative home. His father was an art historian and museum director and secretly gay. His mother was a draftsperson with ambitions of being a pilot in World War II. She was hard drinking, hard smoking, and a bit butch. When I spoke to Mike Mills in November, he said one of his biggest influences was the epic dinner parents his parents used to throw.

If you’re like me, internet technology infiltrates every aspect of your life. Whether it’s ordering groceries on Amazon or booking a car, we’ve become utterly reliant on the internet. Anil Dash has created blogging platforms, was an early adopter of Twitter, and he’s written about everything from internet ethics to pop culture. When he joined me on the podcast last January, I asked him about the dark side of all of this technology.

Brian Koppelman is a filmmaker, podcast host, TV series creator, and a former record producer. He wrote “Oceans 13”, produced “The Illusionist” and created the riveting television show “Billions.” He often works with his longtime friend and writing partner David Levien. When Koppelman joined me on Design Matters last January, I asked him what inspired him and Levien to write the movie, “Rounders,” when Koppelman wasn’t even a screenwriter!

I hope you enjoy this "Best Of 2017" podcast. This episode of Design Matters will officially launch on Monday on iTunes and Soundcloud.

I am in the thick of interviewing new guests for the second half of Season 13, which will begin later this month. I've already interviewed writer and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker and set designer David Korins, and have interviews booked with internet pioneer, artist and designer Edwin Schlossberg, writer and Barney's window dresser Simon Doonan, theoretical astrophysicist and MacArthur Fellow David Spergel, writer and advocate Sukey Novogratz, Executive Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden, architect David Adjaye, illustrator Richard Haines, guitar virtuoso Kaki King and many, many more. I look forward to sharing these conversations with you in the coming weeks and months.

With gratitude and love--
-debbie millman