Posts tagged with "graphic design":

Albers, Lustig Cohen, Tissi, 1958-2018

Pratt Manhattan Gallery presents Albers, Lustig Cohen, Tissi1958-2018, an exhibition that explores sixty years of graphic design and art work by three influential women artist-designers: Anni Albers, Elaine Lustig Cohen, and Rosmarie Tissi. Connected by shared circumstances of identity, each is a 20th century woman connected to a well-known male artist or designer and business partner, with mutual friends, patrons, places, and communities. Working through and inspired by constraints, all three demonstrated an affinity for geometric, hard-edged forms. They made work with a common ideal, exemplars of the Bauhaus ethos: unity in art and design. In the work is a vivacity that feels always new, timeless, and individual. Albers, Lustig Cohen, Tissi, 1958-2018 features a selection of art and design objects –typography, textiles, prints, paintings, posters, sculptures, trademarks, and books, design and/or art—in chronological order beginning in 1958. The three women’s overlapping careers span the arc of the Modernist era—from the Bauhaus, to mid-century Pax Americana, to Postmodernism, and into the present. Curated by Phillip Niemeyer, a graphic designer and director of Northern—Southern, a gallery and art agency in Austin, Texas. Anni Albers (1899–1994) began her career as a textile designer at the Bauhaus. She freelanced in Germany until 1933, when she emigrated to America with her husband, Josef. She taught at the Black Mountain School (1933-49). She was the first woman designer to have a one woman show at the Museum of Modern Art (1949). Her book of collected writings On Designing (1959) is considered a classic in design thought and an important text in the lineage of the "design thinking" discipline. Later in life she explored print as a medium for design and art work. She worked and wrote until her death. Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016) learned graphic design working with her first husband, Alvin Lustig. Alvin lost his vision before he passed—Lustig Cohen would create his designs based on his spoken instructions. After Alvin's death in 1955, Lustig Cohen worked as a freelance designer in New York. She designed the typography for Philip Johnson's Seagram Building (1956) and the iconic graphics for the seminal Primary Structures exhibition at the Jewish Museum (1966). In the 1970s she painted, often large and subtle geometric compositions. A group of her paintings were recently shown at Philip Johnson's Glass House (2015). Rosemarie Tissi (1937–present) was published in the Neue Graphik (1957) while still at student in the Swiss School of Art and Craft. She founded the studio O&T with Siegfried Odermatt in 1968. Tissi has been a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) since 1974, and ADC (Art Directors Club) since 1992. She is the recipient of numerous awards and prices including three Swiss Federal Scholarships for Applied Arts. She still works today. Opening reception: March 1, 6-8 PM
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Pratt exhibit showcases three influential but undersung 20th-century designers

Pratt Institute's Manhattan Gallery is hosting a chronological exhibition of the work of three 20th-century designers whose careers spanned most of the modernist era. The roughly two-month-long show covers the work of Anni Albers, Elaine Lustig Cohen, and Rosmarie Tissi, three designers whose lives crossed paths with famous men but who were successful in their own right. In chronological order, Albers, Lustig Cohen, Tissi, 1958-2018 highlights typography, prints, sculptures, books, paintings, and more from the three practitioners, who tended to produce highly geometric forms across media. Lustig Cohen learned graphic design from Alvin Lustig, her first husband, who would dictate his ideas to her after he lost his sight. She did the typography for Philip Johnson's Seagram Building, and is known for her large geometric paintings from the 1970s. Albers, meanwhile, was an influential textile designer for the Bauhaus, and later emigrated to the United States, where she taught at the Black Mountain School (1933-49). Though many may know her as the wife of artist and educator Josef Albers, she was the first designer ever to get a solo show at MoMA, in 1949. Tissi is the only surviving member of the group. She founded O&T (Odermatt & Tissi), her eponymous studio with Siegfried Odermatt, in 1968, and she is still in practice today. Tissi designed the poster for the show, pictured at top. Albers, Lustig Cohen, Tissi, 1958-2018, which runs from March 2 to April 28, is curated by graphic designer Phillip Niemeyer, who also directs Northern-Southern, a gallery and art agency in Austin, Texas. An opening reception is scheduled for March 1 from 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; more information on the exhibition can be found here.
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Graphic designer Ivan Chermayeff passes away at 85

  Ivan Chermayeff, one of the founders of the modern profession of graphic design, passed away on December 3 at age 85. Born in London to design royalty, his father Serge was a Russian-born industrial designer, author, and architect of the De La Warr Pavilion (with Erich Mendelsohn). Ivan was brought to the United States as young boy in 1940 (along with his brother Peter, the co-founder of Cambridge Seven Associates) and raised in an intellectually exciting world of artists, architects, designers and intellectuals. He claimed to have attended 24 schools, a dozen of which he had no "memory of whatsoever and another dozen (which) had no effect on me.” He finally graduated from Yale, but in a recorded interview he asserted it took him “7 years to recover from his education and he would have better studied chemistry” in preparation for being a designer as it would have taught him “discipline.” He rejected the idea of being an architect who “work on things that take a long time, and often fail because of lack of funding or whatever reason...With graphic design there is the advantage that 99 percent of what we do is produced” and he loved seeing his logos “quickly posted all over town.” His firm Chermayeff & Geismar (joined in 2006 by Sagi Haviv) practically defined the image of corporate America and they designed logos for Pan Am, Mobile Oil, Chase Bank, Xerox, NBC, State Farm Insurance, Hearst Corporation Showtime and many others. But the firm also designed identities for major non-profits and cultural Institutions: The Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, Cornell UniversityNational Geographicthe Kennedy Center Honorsthe Southern Poverty Law Center, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur FoundationConservation International, the Library of Congress. He is also credited with designing the red number nine sculpture at 9 West 57th Street in New York City. Chermayeff believed that “design is really common sense any kind of imagery that communicates is valid.” One ends up, he quipped “stealing from many minds,” and that his great design source was “to ask belligerent questions.”  When someone presents you with a problem its important is to find out “if the problem you are presented is the real problem.” Often, he believed “it is not.” He served as president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and his firm received the AIGA Medal for graphic design and visual communication in 1979. They were honored for “the clarity and organization of their graphics systems, and for their pursuit of consistent details that work at every size and scale to solve the problems of multilingual programs.”
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Postmodernist Dan Friedman helped change how the world viewed graphic design

The Chicago Design Museum’s current exhibition brings the ’80s and early ’90s back through the work of postmodernist graphic and furniture designer Dan Friedman. The show, Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist, was originally curated by the artist himself prior to his death in 1995. Continuing his brother’s legacy, Ken Friedman leads the exhibition with curatorial assistance from Chris and Esther Pullman, Mara Holt Skov, and Steven Skov Holt. Friedman, who posthumously won the 2015 AIGA Medal, was instrumental in shifting the world’s perspective of graphic design from a mostly commercial endeavor to a visual art form. The show includes a wide range of his work, from furniture and experimental sculptural installations to found art and his signature new wave typography. Coining the term “radical modernism,” Friedman helped define an era and style that included contemporaries like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons. This very personal exhibition looks back into a time that can only be described as radical.

Dan Friedman: Radical Modernism Chicago Design Museum 108 North State Street 3rd Floor Chicago Through August 12

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Like design standards manuals? Then you’ll love this new bookstore

Perhaps it's the contemporary obsession with nostalgia, but somehow, just like Brutalism, dated design manuals have made a comeback. Thanks to a few within the design industry—notably "typomaniac" Erik Spiekermann and filmmaker Gary Hustwit—the thirst for graphic design guides and their retro-chic has flourished. These books have become coffee table musts. But where to buy them? Sure, they can be purchased online, but if we are to truly wind back the analog clock, nothing quite beats a visit to a proper bookstore and a new one in Brooklyn has the answer.

Graphic designers Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed opened their new graphic design bookstore yesterday, along with their new design office, Order. Located in Greenpoint, the store was designed by New York architect Miran Jang in collaboration with Smyth and Reed. According to the owners, it is the only specialized graphic design bookstore in New York City.

Order specializes in branding, corporate identity, publications, signage, and wayfinding design. The Brooklyn-based pair favors a straightforward typographic approach, preferring function over decoration. Their work has been recognized by institutes such as the Type Directors Club and The American Institute of Graphics Arts.

Formerly of Pentagram, Smyth and Reed are also the two designers behind Standards Manual. The venture started off when they unearthed a 1970 edition of the New York City Transit Graphics Standards Manual and decided it would be a good idea to reproduce it. A 2014 Kickstarter campaign asked for just over $100,000 to print 1,000 books. The pair eventually raised more than $800,000. People actually wanted this, who knew?

Naturally, a second standards manual followed, this time for NASA and also from the 1970s. And this time their fundraising fell a mere $58,000 shy of $1 million. Their current Kickstarter, for the 1977 EPA Graphic Standards System, has already reached its goal.

These design manuals and a selection of curated graphic design books from a variety of publishers including Chronicle Books, Gary Hustwit, Harper Collins, Hartley and Marks, Hachette, Laurence King, Niggli, Phaidon, Prestel, Unit Editions, and Yale University Press are available to purchase at their new store.

Standards Manual store 212 Franklin Street Brooklyn, New York

Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10–6 p.m.

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You can help choose the graphics for California’s new Caltrain fleet

Against the odds of the current political moment, California is moving ahead with plans to electrify its Caltrain commuter train system in the northern part of the state. The organization in charge of the upgrades needs help choosing graphics for the new fleet of electric trains. Caltrain, a regional commuter rail serving San Francisco and its environs, has seen daily ridership double to 65,000 since 2005, according to a project website. The transit authority is aiming to transition from its current fleet of diesel-fueled locomotives to next-generation Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains that not only run on electric power, but are propelled along their length, instead of pushed or pulled like traditional trains. The all-car propulsion technology has been shown to shorten overall trip times, a byproduct of the smoother acceleration and stopping capabilities possible when each car is independently-propelled. The electrification of the Caltrain system will also help lay the groundwork for California’s beleaguered and over-budget high-speed rail line (HSR). The multi-phase HSR network is still on-track for the 2025 debut of the Silicon Valley to the Central Valley line and will also run on electricity. Converting the Caltrain system to electrical power now is a basic requirement for the high-speed rail line’s later operation. Like the HSR itself, the effort to electrify the Caltrain system, however, will not be cheap: Cost estimates for the upgrades are currently estimated to bet roughly $1.3 billion, a large chunk of which will need to come from the now-recalcitrant federal government. President Trump’s budget proposal left funding for the improvements unmet, along with several other major mass transit infrastructure projects across the country like Los Angeles’s Purple Line and New York City’s 2nd Avenue Subway extensions. A recently-released congressional draft budget proposal, however, allocated some $100 million toward the electrification project (and partial funding for the other projects, as well). Either way, Caltrain is moving ahead with purchasing 96 new train cars that would be configured into 16 six-car trainsets. The authority also has the option to purchase an additional 96 cars to be configured variously at a later date, according to a bulletin issued by Caltrain. The proposed graphics schemes envision four potential options for the fleet, all of which employ Caltrain’s signature red, white, and dark gray color schemes. The schemes, which feature a variety of striping and color blocking patterns, can be voted on at the Caltrain website. The train operator will spend the next year and a half collecting design feedback and—funding permitting—expects to debut the new trains in between 2019 and 2021.
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In memoriam: Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016)

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Elaine Lustig Cohen, a friend, collaborator, mentor, and endless source of inspiration. Through her matchless work over the past seven decades, she gave us an image of what it means to do everything—whether as an artist, a designer, a dealer, an archivist, a thinker, or something else beyond professional names—with elegance and grace. We miss you dearly, but your memory and legacy remain with us. With love, Prem Krishnamurthy and P!
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André Tavares delves into the anatomy of the architectural book

Superficially, The Anatomy of the Architectural Book is a book about books. Its uniqueness lies in its exploration of how architects utilize their design skills in bookmaking. André Tavares blends two distinct histories, architectural history and bibliography, resulting in a thorough exploration of the architectural book. He examines the relationship between visual communication methods in architecture and print applications, noting the roles of innovations in both fields through history. The book is divided into two parts: the first refers to cases studies of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition and Sigfried Giedion's 1929 book Befreites wohnen while the second analyzes what Tavares deems the five essentials of architecture (texture, surface, rhythm, structure, and scale) and how to communicate them through the printed medium. An extensive collection of images guide the reader through the book; most are examples of well- and less well-designed architectural books. The images chronicle the history of bookmaking and visual communication: etchings, printing, lithography, chromolithography, etc. In the passage discussing rhythm—one of the five essentials of architecture as they relate to the architectural book—Tavares examines three methods of organization: "step-by-step, brick-upon-brick, and close-and-closer-still." He explores how these are applied in visual communication by Auguste Choisy in his spatially-organized account of the Acropolis in Athens, Gustav Eiffel's chronological sequence of photographs of the Eiffel Tower, and drawings by Claude Nicolas Ledoux that communicate architecture through scale. Considering the views of architect and architectural magazine editor Pierre-Alain Croset, Tavares concludes that "the inhabitant of a building, or the reader of a book, must form a complete experience for themselves by connecting sensory stimuli." Indeed, the author demonstrates the opportunity for sensory stimuli in reading and understanding his investigation of architectural books; the reader is engaged to pursue his or her own investigation. Throughout the book, Tavares studies the work of designers, architects, and architectural critics including: Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, Giovanni Battista da Sangallo, Sigfried Gidieon, Gottfried Semper, William Morris, Alekseï Gan, Moiseï Ginzburg, El Lissitzsky, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Philibert de l'Orme, Humphry Repton, A.W.N. Pugin, Andrea Palladio, Erich Mendelsohn, François Blondel, Frank Lloyd Wright, and numerous others. While the book discusses the history of bookmaking and architecture, it is not organized chronologically but instead topically, an intentional strategy of Tavares. In terms of the book's design, the text is arranged in two columns: a wide column for the primary text and a smaller one for the notes. A simple arrangement of images allows them to correspond smoothly with the text. I recommend this book for those involved in publishing book on architecture and design. Tavares’ correlations and observations of architectural books and printed materials are stimulating and impactful from such perspectives. More details on the book, which is co-published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and Lars Müller Publishers, are available here.
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East German graphic designer Klaus Wittkugel gets his due at P! Gallery

How does one do good work for bad people? This oversimplified question is especially relevant for architects, and one that the exhibition of work by East German graphic designer Klaus Wittkugel at P! Gallery (P! Gallery, 334 Broome St., New York. January 14–February 21, 2016) asks us to consider, while simultaneously treating us to some modernist visual pleasure.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have been taught that capitalism is the end-all-be-all system to structure our society, and consumption is the answer to our desires—overwhelmingly influencing our aesthetics and our ethics. But looking at the oeuvre of the little-known figure Wittkugel, who was the head designer of the German Democratic Republic’s Socialist Ministry of Information, we find an alternate reality: A sense of aesthetic purpose that, while firmly modernist, shows a softer, more figurative and less abstract approach to design. And yet at times it can be reminiscent of Socialist Realism propaganda, which today is usually met with finger wagging and dismissed as kitsch. It is supposedly the preferred visual language of dictators, with smiles beaming sunshine and 150 percent worker productivity embodied in a visual image. Yet what Ost Und oder West [East and West] reveals is a more complex relationship between design and power, and the limits of artistic freedom under Soviet Communism in post-war Germany.

The exhibition is not only impressive for the work it contains, but also for how it was assembled. P! founder and director Prem Krishnamurthy spent more than seven years assembling Wittkugel’s work into a thorough survey of books, posters, exhibitions, and signage, found in auspicious moments at used bookstores and by scouring eBay. In the process of uncovering this history, Krishnamurthy tells of an early encounter in Wittkugel’s career in 1950, when he designed a poster for a GDR Five Year Plan, and was chastised for its abstraction. Some higher party official determined that this abstraction did not adequately service the proletariat. Witttkugel was censured for not being a good enough Communist, and subsequently forced to attend remedial Socialism classes, brushing up on his Marx and Lenin as if that would instill his graphic designs with the proper message.

The work of Wittkugel displayed in the gallery is in a visual style that positions him as an heir to the legacies of early 20th-century design legends El Lissitzky and László Moholy-Nagy, like a long-lost East German cousin of the earlier German Bauhaus and Russian Constructivist diasporas. The judicious use of mise en abyme—the graphic technique of creating an infinity mirror, a recursive visual trick where an image contains a smaller version of itself in a window in a window in a window, etc…. We might describe this today as “meta.” Krishnamurthy acknowledges that one of the things that really attracted him to his work is “a strain of self-reflexivity about the production of graphic design. So you have a poster, for an exhibition of posters, that is a freshly-postered poster column,” he said. The P! exhibition continues this game by recreating the poster column on the gallery facade.

All of this is juxtaposed with a companion exhibition at OSMOS gallery on the work of Anton Stankowski, a former classmate of Wittkugel’s from the Folkwang University of the Arts, who went on to work in West Germany and Zurich, designing many corporate logos—most notably the minimal Deutsche Bank slash-in-square, which is still in use today. While Stankowski designed symbols of Western businesses and corporations in service of capital, Wittkugel designed the visual manifestation of the political and cultural ambitions of Soviet East Germany in the form of dinnerware, an elegantly embellished cursive visual identity, and signage for the now-demolished Palast der Republik.

While works like Wittkugel’s signage for the Kino International relate more directly to architecture, the exhibition offers conceptual lessons for architectural practice about architecture’s inevitable collaborations with people whose values may not align with one’s own. You can refrain from designing prisons if you object to incarceration, but it doesn’t mean some architect somewhere won’t design that prison, so why not engage and attempt to design a more humane prison?

The importance of critical engagement is shown in Wittkugel’s 1957 exhibition Militarism without Masks. He conceived of the exhibition, organized the team, designed it with his students, and ultimately won the East German National Prize. It was a polemical, anti-West German exhibition that featured former Nazis who became part of the West German government, juxtaposing images of Hitler with Henry Ford, snakes, and gold coins. The show featured two levels of narrative: Detailed vitrine presentations with archival materials that told the story of the Krupp family and how they made money from the war, alongside big bombastic moves that allude to El Lissitzky’s exhibition designs. Another impressive element was a mechanically louvered sign with vertical, rotating triangular slats to display three images. Also included in the exhibition was a panorama of the Kurfürstendamm in West Berlin, portrayed as a wasteland without humans—a newspaper kiosk with militaristic posters on it stands alone. Four years later, in 1961, when Wittkugel did his own retrospective exhibition, he recreated that same newspaper kiosk in the photograph, at a one-to-one scale, thereby showing his exhibition design as an object in his exhibition: it’s a very self-reflexive design move.

Any serious international cultural institution would be remiss not to consider this collection of thought provoking but lesser-known work from a precarious moment in design history.

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Chicago’s Harrington College of Design to close its doors, merge with Columbia College

Chicago's Harrington College of Design on Wednesday abruptly announced it will merge with Columbia College. Jim McCoy, Harrington's vice president of operations, told AN the school will no longer accept new students, but won't shut the door on its existing student body. “Everyone that's enrolled in Harrington, we will teach them out,” said McCoy. Students in the downtown college's associate, graduate, and bachelor programs will continue to take Harrington classes through August 2018—even students who took a semester off can finish their degrees, McCoy said. “We do not want to lock them out.” After the summer term, at which point Harrington will vacate its leased space in Chicago's Loop, students will attend class in facilities owned by Columbia College. Students who complete their degrees within about a year can request a diploma from Harrington, McCoy said, but bachelors finishing their degrees after that time will earn credentials from their new alma mater, Columbia College. McCoy said declining enrollment had put pressure on Harrington's administration to make the move now or face the possibility of shutting students out in a few years while they were still part-way through their academic programs. “It just became obvious,” McCoy said, “to get back to where it was financially stable would have taken years, and we felt this was in the best interest of the students.” Over the last five years McCoy estimated Harrington's enrollment has declined by 30–40 percent. He credits increasing competition, including from online programs, for the drop. But also to blame may be the college's select program offerings. For 84 years Harrington has offered highly specialized programs in graphic design, interior design, and photography. “Those are great fields. They will continue to be great fields,” said McCoy. But they could not sustain business at Harrington. Crain's Chicago Business contextualized the financial situation of Harrington's owner, the suburban Schaumburg-based, for-profit company Career Education:
Like many private education companies, Career Education has struggled with declining enrollment over the past few years and has been losing money. The company's 2014 revenue fell to $736.9 million from $834.1 million in the year prior, and its loss widened to $178.2 million from $164.3 million in 2013.
Nationally enrollment has declined at for-profit universities, as well. “We're saddened,” said McCoy. “We are. We are happy to have been able to partner with Columbia College, and the underlying thing is we're not closing the door on our students.”
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On View> The Boston Society of Architects digs into the future of typography in new exhibition

  Stereotype: New directions in typography The Boston Society of Architects 290 Congress Street, Suite 200 Boston, MA Through May 25 The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) is currently exploring the boundaries and possibilities of traditional typography with an exhibition called Stereotype: New directions in typography. To delve into the future of the form—and to raise questions about what is next for it—the BSA is presenting works from 14 up-and-coming and established designers from around the world.   “By exploring the opportunities at the intersection of technology and design, this new breed of artists is expanding the boundaries of traditional typography and integrating elements from the fields of animation, craft, performance, nanoscience, and graffiti into their work,” said the BSA in a statement. To push past a conventional understanding of typography as purely two-dimensional, the exhibition incorporates “time, movement, and the third dimension.”
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Obit> Mildred “Mickey” Friedman, 1929–2014

Mildred Friedman, the longtime design curator of Minneapolis' Walker Art Center and a prolific architectural author, died Wednesday at her home in New York City. She was 85. Friedman, whose friends called her “Mickey,” ran the Walker for 21 years with her husband, Martin, who was its director. Together they made it “America's leading design museum,” according to a tribute from Architectural Record on the occasion of the couple's “retirement” in 1990.

As the museum's design curator, Ms. Friedman also edited its publication, Design Quarterly, which she managed deftly, according to Andrew Blauvelt, the Walker’s senior curator of design, research, and publishing. "With its singular focus, generous reproductions, and smart design, it was decidedly not one of those dry and often poorly designed, peer-reviewed, academic journals,” wrote Blauvelt in a remembrance. “Although it’s been more than 20 years since DQ ceased publication, the void that it left has never been filled.”

Much of her work curating and editing Design Quarterly would spin off into publications. Friedman wrote or co-wrote dozens of books, including Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, the first large-scale museum survey of the field.

Since 1990, she and her husband had lived in New York City, where Ms. Friedman continued writing and curating at institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Under Friedman, shows at the Walker were not just shows but immersive experiences.

“In Mickey’s hands, a design show was never simply about a subject, but drew upon the principles and power of design itself to create a compelling experience,” wrote Blauvelt. “ This particular strategy of restaging, wherein visitors can not only look at works of art on view but also experience them directly and even viscerally, certainly drew upon Mickey’s skills and experience in interior design but also signaled a powerful new curatorial technique.”

In the Twin Cities design community, her influence was profound. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune quoted Dan Avchen, chief executive of HGA Architects and Engineers:

Mickey was instrumental in defining the architectural landscape of the Twin Cities by connecting patrons to architects … She was the design maven of the Twin Cities for many years and she had a huge impact— huge.

Friedman's legacy is inextricably linked to those of many 20th century architects. Her 1986 exhibition of Frank Gehry's work bolstered the architect's career—a feat she replicated by championing the likes of Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Tod Williams, Billie Tsien and César Pelli, whom she also helped win commissions in the region by suggesting them for local landmark projects.

Born Mildred Shenberg in 1929, Ms. Friedman grew up in California. She met Martin Friedman at UCLA, where her future husband was teaching drawing as a graduate student in art history and painting. They married in 1949.

In 1980 she started the Mildred S. Friedman Design Fellowship, a program to give recent design graduates experience in her design studio at the Walker Art Center.

Her survivors include her husband, three daughters, and six grandchildren.