Book List of the Week

Book List of the Week: Deborah Sussman (1931-2014)

"Literature and poetry, especially by and about women, have been a lifelong passion. While not directed specifically at the 'design' profession, these books have informed and influenced my imagination, mind and soul."

By Stephanie Salomon August 25, 2014
Deborah Sussman, graphic designer (1931-2014)
View Deborah Sussman’s Book List

We salute graphic designer Deborah Sussman (1931–2014), who passed away last week, with a look at the books that inspired the colorful designer of the colorful and distinctive environmental graphics that became synonymous with Los Angeles and the California New Wave movement. The Brooklyn-born designer started out in the Eames office and went on to play a pioneering role for women in graphic design, famously creating the identity, with her firm, Sussman/Prezja, and The Jerde Partnership, for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Her book list first ran on Designers & Books in 2011 and includes lots of advice and pointed observations for readers:

Signage for  the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, created by the firm founded by Deborah Sussman and Paul Prejza, Sussman/Prejza, courtesy of Sussman/Prejza

On Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “In case you haven’t yet read this, do so!”

On Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Lost Time: “Like a pebble thrown into a lake, the famous story of eating a “madeleine” begins an epic masterpiece. In Proust's invention the lake becomes an ocean. The characters and their intrigues, their social status and power (whether inherited or manufactured), are described in very dense text. This work is worth the effort, and will exercise your brain.”

On Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar: “Provides insights into American womanhood in the early 1950s and the juncture between education and professionalism. It also reveals the author’s internal struggles and describes the significant contribution that Mademoiselle magazine made to empower women, along with the hilarious foibles of the time. (I, too, was a guest editor at Mademoiselle.)”

In addition, Sussman writes in the introduction to her book list, “All of the books by Bruno Munari are worth your time. ... small, graphic gems, which are very precise and full of multidimensional surprises.”

A writer of free verse and reader of poets like Emily Dickinson (“Read everything she wrote and read it over and over”), Deborah Sussman was also contemplating/in the compiling a book on her own work when we met her and her husband and design partner, Paul Prejza, in 2012. The prospect, she told us, was of “a multifaceted mirror is beckoning.”

For some of the many excellent articles on Deborah Sussman, see Alissa Walker’s interview, “The Colorful World of Deborah Sussman”;  “She Loves LA” in Metropolis magazine; “Deborah Sussman: Creative Foundations” (ADC); and designboom’s interview

View Deborah Sussman’s Profile

View Deborah Sussman’s Book List

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