Creative director, writer, and teacher, Michael Rock is a founding partner and Executive Director of Strategy at 2x4 Inc., the multidisciplinary studio in New York City; Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; and Senior Critic at the Yale School of Art. A globally - recognized authority on brand strategy, design, and positioning, Rock has led projects for some of the world’s most iconic brands, cultural institutions and museums, corporations, and civic organizations, local to global, from Apple, Meta, and Google; to Prada, Chanel, and Lora Piana; to Fondazione Prada, LACMA, Lincoln Center; to artists Kanye West and Kaws; to the nations of Qatar and Bermuda.
From 1984 to 1991, Rock was Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. From 1991 to 2018 , he was Associate Professor of Design at the Yale School of Art where he now holds the rank of Senior Critic. From 2007 to 2015 he was the director of the Graphic Architecture Project at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation where he currently is Adjunct Professor. He has lectured on design, branding, and identity at universities around the globe. In addition, he was a member of the founding faculty and visiting fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht, The Netherlands, from 1995 to 2000. From 1999 through 2005, he was one of the founding partners in AMO, the influential design think-tank developed in collaboration with architect Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.
For much of the nineties, Rock was contributing editor and graphic design journalist at the influential I.D. Magazine in New York. and Eye Magazine, London. His writing on branding and design has appeared in publications worldwide most recently as design critic at the New York Times magazine. In 2005, the work of his studio 2x4 was the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the following year they received the National Design Award in Communication Design from the Smithsonian Institution, the highest design honor in the United States. In 2008, 2x4 was featured in a 12-month exhibition at the Architecture and Design galleries at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 2009, a selection of projects opened at the Gyre Gallery in Tokyo. The catalogue/book from that exhibition, titled "it is what it is" was released in 2010. His book “ Multiple Signatures,” a collection of essays, projects, and interviews, was published by Rizzoli International in 2013.
He holds an A.B. in Humanities (Literature) from Union College and an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the recipient of the 1999/2000 Rome Prize in Design and 2022 Design Residency from the American Academy in Rome and served on the board of the Academy for 12 years. Since 2019, he has served on the Board of Trustees for the Rhode Island School of Design where he chairs the Communications Committee and served as a member of the Presidential Search Committee.
MFA, Rhode Island School of Design
AB, Union College