Pioneering Los Angeles-based graphic designer Deborah Sussman passed away on August 19 at the age of 83, reports the Los Angeles Times. The infamous designer, whose notable projects include the graphic identity for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, died of breast cancer, according to the newspaper. “[Sussman] used her signature combination of bright hues such as magenta and chrome yellow, sometimes mixed with pastels, to create graphics and signage that can be found in buildings and cityscapes worldwide,” explains the Times, which also notes that she leaves behind her husband and business partner, Paul Prejza. With a combination of bright hues and witty historical references, her work embodied the graphic design iteration of the postmodernism that held sway in the Southern California design world in the 1980s and 1990s.
Her first major project and the commission that shot her to renown in the graphic design world, Sussman’s identity and signage for the Olympics were highly controversial. She was largely unknown when her rainbow-hued visuals were first unveiled, to largely negative feedback. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, one critic called her work “a disappointment. It could very well be representing a trendy Melrose Avenue emporium or a traditional Little Tokyo restaurant.” Ultimately, her final designs would prove wildly popular, encapsulating the city’s free-spirited attitude in the early 1980s. Frank Gehry, who spoke to the newspaper on account of her death earlier this week, explained: “That’s what the Olympics were about — to put Los Angeles at the center of attention,” Gehry said. “Deborah put that into a visual.” (more…)