A designer, an entrepreneur, and an author, Peter Buchanan-Smith’s 25 year career spans the founding of a popular lifestyle brand to the design of brand identities, album covers, books, and products for the New York Times, Isaac Mizrahi, Wilco, Brian Eno & David Byrne, and Ellen DeGeneres.
Buchanan-Smith thrives at the vibrant intersection of contradictions: where the ordinary meets the extraordinary. His designs and products are powerful stories unto themselves, each one conjuring up life where we least expect it.
Illustration for the New York Times, July 2001
Clear, unswerving messaging underpins a modest brass ruler, and Best Made—the company he founded in 2009. Since his early days as art director of the New York Times Op-Ed page, Buchanan-Smith has made a career distilling complex business demands into uncannily clear and creative messages.
Solid Brass Ruler, design for Best Made Co.
Before his album designs for Wilco, Peter spent two years working intimately with the band—on tour, and in the recording studio—on their first book. Deep understanding and keen awareness drive Peter’s design practice.
Album design for Wilco’s A ghost is born
Photo by Michael Schmelling
Of the thousands of photos taken that day at the Kelly Osbourne shoot for Paper Magazine, in only one frame did she agree to wear that oversized bow. At its best design should conjure up a sense of wonder, and with that Peter aspires to always uplift his audience.
Cover of Paper Magazine, May 2015
Photo by Danielle Levitt
more About Peter Buchanan-Smith
Throughout his career he has worked in close partnership with brands and artists to craft products and experiences that are as simple and elegant as they are meaningful and lasting. His work spans a wide range of clients, including art direction of the New York Times; creative direction for Paper magazine; and work for fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi, television star Ellen DeGeneres, musical legends David Byrne, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Justin Timberlake, and the band Wilco.
Peter is also the author of several books, including The Wilco Book, and he has collaborated on many others, including Strunk and White’s classic The Elements of Style with illustrator Maira Kalman. His first book, Speck: A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things explores the fascinating lives of ordinary people and commonplace objects. This connection between people and objects is also at the heart of Best Made, the company he founded in 2009, and left in 2019.
Peter has taught design at School of Visual Art, he has served as a board member of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and has spoken at The Walker Art Center and other cultural and academic institutions around the world. His work has won numerous awards including a Grammy for his design of Wilco’s album A Ghost is Born.
Peter has been featured in
isaac mizrahi • philip glass • museum of the city of new york • joel meyerowitz • wired magazine • justin timberlake • paper magazine • the new york times • new york magazine • school of visual arts • harry abrams • chronicle books • random house • vintage • nonesuch records • ellen de generes • aperture books • penguin press • warner brothers
A note on credits & thanks:
Credit and thanks are given wherever possible. There have been many talented people who have been instrumental to the work published here within. In particular special thanks and credit goes to the creative team members that have worked directly for Peter over the years. They include: Josef Reyes, Pablo Delcan, Jeff Stark, Laura Victore, Daniel Wiesmann, Jillian Parisi, Lindsay Ballant, Meaghan Kombol, Gelsey Maslanka, Stephanie Izzo, and Maddy Tank.