Obituaries

Deborah Sussman, Los Angeles area designer was 83

olympics-sussman.jpg
Via Sussman/Prejza.

Designer Deborah Sussman began her career as an office designer for Charles and Ray Eames in the 1950s. She started her own firm, Sussman/Prejza, in 1968. Archinect says Sussman is "perhaps best known for her environmental and graphic design for the 1984 Summer Olympics….[Also] her distinctively colorful and intrepid graphical work brought character to Disney World, the city of Santa Monica, CA, and the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco." She died this morning at age 83.

Los Angeles Magazine's 1980s retrospective issue in July included a piece in which Sussman recalled the Olympics experience. "The 1984 Summer Olympics are the most aesthetically memorable Games of our generation: buildings constructed of scaffolding and tubes, 'LA 84' banners hanging from light poles, a palette that burned bright," the magazine said. "For the first time in its history Los Angeles told a cohesive visual story. And that story was largely written by architect Jon Jerde and designer Deborah Sussman."

Sussman in the Los Angeles piece:

Our first assignment was to do only the signing plan for the UCLA Village, so the athletes wouldn’t get lost. Jon said, “Don’t even think about that. You dream, see the big picture,” and I did. I saw in my head this sky and the ground sprinkled with confetti, sprinkled with all this magical stuff that shimmered and expressed joy, excitement—expressed the goals of the Olympics. Jon invented this phrase for it: “An invasion of butterflies.”


Everybody was crying out for a color palette. I’m very intuitive, but when it comes to color I’m also very conceptual. I had a mania for collage, which was nourished in my years with Ray Eames and Alexander Girard. I pulled these colored papers out, and they turned out to be the very colors we used. They were the colors I had observed in areas of celebration along the Pacific Rim—Mexico, Japan, India, China—the colors of the Hispanic and Asian communities that impact Los Angeles. Had I never been at the Eames office, had I never known Girard, I don’t know what I would have done.


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