Behind the Scenes at Design Matters

February 16, 2011

Since 2003, MPS Branding Department Chair Debbie Millman has hosted Design Matters, an audio podcast that features one-on-one conversations with some of the biggest names in design. Millman records the podcast at SVA, using a specially built booth in the MPS Branding studios, and invited the Briefs for a behind-the-scenes look at her interview with alumnus and faculty member Gail Anderson (BFA 1984 Graphic Design).

For each of the 12 episodes Millman produces each semester, she does meticulous research on her interview subject (which usually requires reading and annotating one or more books authored by the interviewee) and prepares a list of questions about the designer’s life and work. On the day of the interview, the department’s students, faculty and staff are invited to watch the recording in the program’s main classroom space—the glass-walled booth looks out onto the classroom, and the audio is fed into large mounted speakers.

Once the show’s producer, Curtis Fox, got both Millman and Anderson hooked up in the recording booth (including bottles of MPS Branding-branded water!), the host began an easy-going but focused conversation that started with Anderson’s childhood interest in the Jackson 5 and Partridge Family and moved onto her time at Rolling Stone magazine and theatrical-promotion firm SpotCo. One segment of the interview focused on Anderson’s years at SVA, especially her relationship with designer and faculty member Paula Scher. “I owe her a lot,” said Anderson, citing Scher’s influence as both a teacher and professional mentor. At the end of the interview, the two were still clearly enjoying each other’s company and the conversation continued even after the recording had stopped.

The episode of Design Matters with Anderson is set to appear on Friday, February 18, on the “Observer Media” section of the Design Observer Web site [UPDATE: It’s right here]. For more images from the recording of the episode, visit our Facebook gallery.

Images: Photos by Brian Glaser.

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