For Your Ears: “Design Matters”

Thanks to the explosion of amazing free downloadable content, Podcasts are making a serious bid for our attention, giving us something to listen to while we work that is informative, inspirational and entertaining. For Your Ears is an ongoing series in which we highlight/recommend podcasts, lectures and informational series that inspire us.


DESIGN MATTERS with Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman
Design Observer

In some ways, I feel silly recommending a podcast featuring Debbie Millman. After all – among designers, who isn’t familiar with Debbie and her work? She isn’t exactly low-profile in the design world, having just ended her very successful term as President of AIGA. Most of you reading this I would imagine have at least one of her books in your collection. Yet it surprises me how often I run into people who’ve never heard of the Design Matters podcast.

In Design Matters, Millman interviews the biggest names in the creative world. From rising stars like Jessica Hische to design legends like Milton Glaser, DM is one of the best resources I have found for perspective and philosophy from the greatest minds in design, all in a casual, conversational format that makes the interviewees’ personalities shine through. It’s one thing to admire a designer’s work on a visual level. But to really hear from the designers themselves about how they approach their process, their career ups and downs, and especially how they got to where they are, offers a level of personal insight we rarely get to experience. Debbie Millman has a knack for asking all the right questions and coaxing the most relevant insights from her subjects.

Occasionally, Millman deviates from the standard interview format and strikes a more personal note. My personal favorite DM episode was her interview with Stefan Sagmeister from November of ’09 (her second DM interview with Sagmeister – the former occurred in ’05). Listening to Sagmeister is always engaging and worth one’s time, but it was the intro portion of this episode I found so endearing. Rather than launch directly into the interview, Debbie related a story about her early career, where she faced a series of personal and career setbacks, culminating in an impromptu trip overseas she was too stressed out to truly enjoy. I won’t spoil it for you, but essentially her relating a personal story of career anxiety and learning from one’s failures resonated with me as much – if not more – than any of her 100+ interviews with the icons of design. It’s Millman’s personal touches that make Design Matters something special.


You can subscribe to Design Matters via iTunes. Be sure to check out the Design Matters Archive as well. Debbie Millman’s Twitter feed is @debbiemillman.

If you have a podcast, lecture or series you’d like to recommend for us to share with the AIGA Houston community, send submissions to education (at)


By Andy Rich
Published November 7, 2011
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