We're sad to note the passing of bold designer Deborah Sussman, who died on Wednesday at the age of 83 after a long battle with cancer. Sussman was a Brooklyn-born artist of many interests, known for colorful large-scale design work that often included whole built environments. Growing up in an artistic family, she was encouraged to explore many disciplines, attending Black Mountain School during the summers, and later studying painting and theater at Bard College.
Sussman first heard her calling "like thunder" at age 22 in the Eames' studio, where the refined combination of drawing and physical creation immediately attracted her. Her own work must have made a positive impact too - she worked for Eames for the next several years. As their Art Director her projects at the firm spanned graphics, print, exhibition layout, showroom design and film. She cut her teeth on both internal work and designing for clients like the Ford Foundation and IBM at the 1964 World's Fair.
The decade after, she studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltang on a Fulbright Scholarship, and started her own practice. She continued to scale up her designs, and after marrying architect and planner Paul Prezja, their joint work at Sussman/Prezja & Co. took things to a macro level. Her "supergraphics," massive multidimensional painted and built works that filled whole spaces, were groundbreaking at the time, though they are common now. Her work for the the 1984 Olympics is seen as both innovative and iconic.
Sussman received an AIGA medal in 2004. She leaves behind a wonderfully bright legacy of design in architecture, typography, graphics and more.