Richard Saul Wurman

Finding The Quest In The Question

Described by Fortune magazine as an "intellectual hedonist" with a "hummingbird mind," architect and designer Richard Saul Wurman seeks ways to make the complex clear. His latest book, UnderstandingUnderstanding (to be published June 2017), is a book of examples and stories that give permission to embrace one's personal path to understanding.

Wurman says, "This book is about the fantasy of being the dumbest person in the room and being able to identify all the myriad connections of how others think, talk, explain, and visualize. It is about the informed quest: the quest in 'question'."

At BIF2017, Wurman will interview veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg, who is retiring this year.

Over his career, Wurman has written, designed, and published 90 books on wildly divergent topics. Two of these are the notebooks and drawings of architect Louis I. Kahn and What Will Be Has Always Been, a seminal collection of Kahn’s words.

Wurman received both his M. Arch. & B. Arch. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1959 with the highest honors and the Arthur Spayed Brooks Gold Medal. He has been awarded several honorary doctorates, Graham Fellowships, a Guggenheim and numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as being the Distinguished Professor of the Practice at Northeastern University.

Wurman also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Wurman has also been awarded the Annual Gold Medal in Discourse from Trinity College, Dublin, a Gold Medal from AIGA and Boston Science Museum’s 50th Annual Bradford Washburn Award. He is also a Fellow of the AIA and in the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame.

Wurman created and chaired the TED conference from 1984 thru 2002, the TEDMED conference from 1995 to 2010, as well as the e.g. and WWW conferences. His current projects include Urban Observatory and his newest book, UnderstandingUnderstanding, a journey through the myriad ways that he and his many muses have created their own idiosyncratic manners of understanding.

Wurman has continually sought to put himself in the presence of extraordinary people, including Francis Crick, Richard Feynman, and Jonas Salk in the sciences; Eva Zeisel, Louis I. Kahn and Charles Eames in the arts; Steve Jobs and Frank Stanton in communications; and Schuyler van Renssalaer Cammann, and Arnold Toynbee in history and archaeology. The only two bosses Wurman ever had who didn't fire him were Lou Kahn and Charlie Eames.

Several of Wurman's books are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The extraordinary graphic designer Milton Glaser wrote: "Richard Saul Wurman's impact on the design community and the public at large has been profound. Through his books and his instructional manuals, he has been exceedingly exceptional in informing the public about critical issues."