Jessica Helfand is a designer, artist and theorist. Formerly a partner in Winterhouse, she is a founding editor of Design Observer, currently the largest international website of design and cultural criticism. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Communications Arts and Eye magazines, she has written for numerous national publications including Aperture, Los Angeles Times Book Review and The New Republic, and has appeared several times on National Public Radio.
She is the author of numerous books on design and cultural criticism, including Paul Rand: American Modernist (1998), Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture (2001) and Reinventing the Wheel (2002), which formed the basis for an exhibit in 2004 at The Grolier Club in New York City. Her critically acclaimed Scrapbooks: An American History (Yale University Press) was named best gift book of the year in 2008 by The New York Times and formed the basis, in 2009, for the first-ever Yale College freshman seminar in the School of Art. Her latest book Design; The Invention of Desire will be published in May 2016.
Helfand has been a visiting critic at numerous programs in design and architecture throughout the United States and Europe and has lectured at the Netherlands Design Institute, the Walker Art Center, Smithsonian Institution and the Annenberg Center for Public Policy, among others. She has been a visiting professor at The Cooper Union, Wesleyan University and Paris College of Art, and is a founding tutor in the Porto Design Summer School course in Porto, Portugal.
Jessica Helfand grew up in Paris and New York City and received both her BA and MFA from Yale University, where she is Senior Critic in the School of Art, a Lecturer in Yale College, and a faculty affiliate in the History of Science. In 2015, she was appointed Artist in Residence at the Yale Institute for Network Science. She is a Life Fellow of the American Antiquarian Society, a member of AGI (the Alliance Graphique Internationale) and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Named the first Henry Wolf Resident in design at the American Academy in Rome in 2010, Jessica Helfand won the AIGA medal—the design profession’s highest honor—in 2013.