The Chicago Design Museum is proud to present our next exhibition, Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles!, which will run 13 November 2014 through 28 February 2014. This exhibition recognizes an iconic designer who has helped shape the visual landscape of Los Angeles and define the field of environmental graphic design. The exhibition focuses on the early career of Deborah Sussman (1931-2014), highlighting projects that illuminate formative years in her professional development and in the growth of Los Angeles as a cultural center and a global city.
Beginning with a pivotal summer internship in 1953, Sussman spent the early part of her career working at the Los Angeles office of Charles and Ray Eames. There, Sussman was introduced to the city and developed a multidisciplinary design approach that she eventually applied to both her work and office culture when she struck out on her own as Deborah Sussman & Co. in 1968. Throughout this time, Sussman continued to work on multiple scales, from product and package design to urban branding and immersive, architecturally-integrated environments. Sussman helped define what would later be called supergraphics: the use of bold colors, words, and shapes, enlarged beyond the boundaries of architectural edges and planes.
In 1980, Sussman formed the office Sussman/Prejza with her husband Paul Prejza. The office collaborated with the Jerde Partnership on the visual identity of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, and catapulted Los Angeles onto the world stage in a kaleidoscope of colors that came to define not only the look of the Games but the city itself. Through its expanding scale and exuberant use of color, her graphic design tracks a path between modern and postmodern design and across the changing landscape of Los Angeles as it grew dramatically in size, density, and diversity from the 1950s to the 1980s.
This examination of the first thirty years of Sussman’s career invites further scholarship on women’s roles in collaborative design projects in Los Angeles and the nation at large during a time period dominated by male practitioners.
Originally shown in Los Angeles at the Woodbury School of Architecture’s WUHO Gallery in 2012, Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles! will be on view at the Chicago Design Museum from November 12, 2014 through February 28, 2015. The exhibition was curated by Barbara Bestor, Catherine Gudis, Tom Kracauer, and Shannon Starkey and is organized in Chicago by Matthew Terdich, Elizabeth Cummings, and Morgan Walsh.