Designer Deborah Sussman, known as a pioneer of environmental graphic design, died August 19 at age 83 of breast cancer.
Sussman began her career as an office designer in the office of Charles and Ray Eames in Los Angeles in 1953. After spending 10 years working with the Eameses, she became art director for the office and designed print materials, museum exhibits, films, and showrooms for furniture. In 1968 she formed her own firm and later partnered with her husband, Paul Prejza, to create Sussman/Prejza & Co.
The firm produced environmental graphics, branding, and signage, primarily in the Los Angeles area, with clients such as the City of Santa Monica and the Culver City bus system, Her earlier projects included a collaborative project with Frank Gehry, a stage show for the Rolling Stones, and retail settings for Joseph Magnin.
Known for her vibrant, graphic, and colorful designs, Sussman is most noted for designing the graphic identity for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Working with architect Jon Jerde, Sussman designed a stage set of existing buildings and temporary structures in vivid colors to reflect the multiple cultures represented at the event.
Her work was recently featured at Hollywood’s WUHO gallery in the exhibit, “Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles.” This was the first retrospective of the designer’s early work and covered her days at Eames Studio up to the 1984 Olympics.
The 1984 Summer Olympics
The exterior of a Joseph Magnin store with graphic identity designed by Deborah Sussman.