Deborah Sussman, Breaking Boundaries of Graphic Design

Deborah Sussman, Breaking Boundaries of Graphic Design

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Joseph Magnin Store, a collaboration with Frank Gehry, 1968

Deborah Sussman is frequently thought of as having ‘invented’ supergraphics. Possibly most famous for her work on the 1984 Olympic games, her work pushes typography and graphic design into architecture. When she died in 2014 shortly after finishing Grand Park, she was referred to sometimes as an environmental designer, mostly, however, simply, as a designer.

It should be no surprise really that she would break the boundaries of graphic design – or at least challenge them. Not only did she study at a variety of institutions and subjects, but she also came to Los Angeles to work for the Eames, famously interested in expanding their field of expression. She also married and started a business with the architect and urban planner, Paul Prejza.

Single-story Los Angeles buildings trying to catch the attention of what are most likely motorists. These themselves too beg the question if they are the works of graphic designers, architects, another flavour of design, or a combination of multiple disciplines.

And she was doing this while living in a city that not only blends surface graphics with building elements, a city that invented Googie architecture, but a city that is probably most famous for a piece of outdoor advertising called the Hollywood Sign.

Standard Shoes, Pasadena, 1970


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Structure, architectural, environmental, or graphic design.

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