Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deborah's Design Legacy

Deborah Sussman at her WUHO Gallery show, late 2013. Photo by Laure Joliet.

D  E  B  O  R  A  H     S  U  S  S  M  A  N    

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I was saddened to hear of the Aug. 19, 2014, passing of legendary environmental graphic designer Deborah Sussman, an AIGA-medal winning "rock star" of our profession.

During a studio tour of Sussman/Prejza and Co. in the early 1990s, I glimpsed the great designer in action. She was making a presentation to a large group of clients, and I've always remembered that larger-than-life presence (despite her petite size!).

While on jury duty in downtown L.A. this summer, I spent my lunch break in Grand Park adjacent to the courthouse. The vast public space was one of the last creative projects she worked on. Cool plants and colorful wayfinding (oversized plant "markers" in bright colors) and bright magenta outdoor furniture really pop. Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall is a 10-minute walk away.


In the 1960s she collaborated with Gehry on the interior design of a high-end Joseph Magnin department store in San Jose. "We invented a model for retail, we thought," Gehry said. It involved filmed runway shows projected on a wall and graphics that could be changed as new products came into the store. "We would stay up late, talking and agonizing about where things should go. She was an artist, and it was a hell of a collaboration. I'll never forget it."

From the L.A. Times obituary published 8/21/14. Full story here: Los Angeles Times


Read another tribute with fantastic photos here: Curbed LA

In early 2014, Deborah's retrospective at the WUHO Gallery in Hollywood was amazing and beautifully presented. Here's my blog entry: A Bird's Eye View of the Design World


LACMA has now re-issued the colorful 1966 "Sussman" paper bags.

Grand Park in downtown L.A. (June, 2014). Photo by Emilie Pallos

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