A filing cabinet on the internet by Rob Giampietro


Lately I’ve come to realize that Giampietro+Smith’s site represents only part of what I do on a day-to-day basis, and rightly so. That site’s mission, quickly framed, is articulating what we do for our clients to a general audience of potential new clients, colleagues, press, and interested onlookers. It’s an outward effort. But some of the most interesting activities of mine are inward efforts: writing and thinking about design, teaching design, meeting with new designers, and doing research. These inward efforts are primarily done for a more specific audience — the design community — and they are done in a spirit of mentorship, reflection, and growth.

It occurred to me that these inward efforts should have a site of their own. As a writer and critic I’m sometimes frustrated by the fact that design essays are often published in expensive or hard-to-find publications, making it hard for new critics to get their bearings and more experienced critics to adopt, modify, refute, or challenge ideas that may be valuable to them and to the community they serve. Most art critics are either professional journalists or members of the academy. Many design critics are neither. There are only a small number of essay collections by single critic, but responsible critics try to build a body of work the same way responsible designers do, and having more critical work gathered in a single place seems very helpful, indeed. As a teacher of design, there are also limited resources available, and little resembling a bank of centralized knowledge on how to teach design, course structures, assignment ideas, etc. As the owner of a small design studio, I’m lucky enough to meet with many more talented designers than I could hire in a lifetime, and I found myself eager to provide a venue for sharing these new voices with the community as well.

In the last few months, I’ve poured all the time I can into developing this new site. Initially named for two kinds of paper — one for writing and one for drawing — I’ve come to see it more as a metaphor for online text, which is either plain and static or underlined and dynamic. L&UL was designed and programmed by the talented Renda Morton, who took the visual and functional components of the site off my hands, allowing me to focus entirely on its content. What you’ll find here are most of my essays for Dot Dot Dot, Emigre, Design Observer, and BusinessWeek; other writing, posts, lectures, assignments, and syllabi; interviews and portfolios by new designers whose work excites me; a growing list of recommended readings; and a look at what’s on my actual bookshelves in the library. Let’s call it a “filing cabinet on the internet,” and I’m handing out the key. Give, take, and repurpose to your heart’s delight.

L&UL is not intended to be a forum, just one node in our great community. The site will be updated on a relatively infrequent basis since its major function is to catalog of articles I’ve published elsewhere. New content will be limited to new designer interviews and recommended readings, which I’ll post whenever time allows and the spirit moves me. If you have suggestions for me or ideas for how to make the site better in any way, please let me know.