Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, graduating summa cum laude in 1980. Prior to joining Pentagram in 1990 as a partner in the firm’s New York office, he worked for ten years at Vignelli Associates, ultimately as vice president of graphic design.
Bierut’s projects at Pentagram have included identity and branding for Benetton, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Verizon, MIT Media Lab, and the New York Jets; environmental graphics and signage for The New York Times, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the Walt Disney Company; exhibition design for the Museum of Sex and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; packaging for Saks Fifth Avenue and Nuts.com; and publication design for the Atlantic and Billboard.
He has won hundreds of design awards and his work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, all in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany; and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Montreal.
He has served as president of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1988 to 1990 and is president emeritus of AIGA National. He also serves on the boards of the Architectural League of New York and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. In 1989, Bierut was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale, in 2003 he was named to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he received the profession’s highest honor, the AIGA Medal, in recognition of his distinguished achievements and contributions to the field. In 2008 he received the Design Mind Award in the National Design Awards presented by the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Bierut is a Senior Critic in Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art. He is co-editor of the anthology series Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, published by Allworth Press, and in 1998 he co-edited and designed the monograph Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist. He is a co-founder of the weblog Design Observer and his commentaries about graphic design in everyday life can be heard nationally on the Public Radio International program “Studio 360.” A collection of his essays Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2007, and his monograph How To was published by Thames & Hudson and Harper Design in 2015.