Designing Women from Readymag

Plus, a cinematic graduate show and growing documentation of women in type design. For more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

  1. Half + Half, Normal

We hear a lot about how VR is the “next frontier of design” and, weird pioneer metaphor aside, it’s nice to see what studios we follow come up with when working in that space. Latest in that category is design studio Dazzle Studio, which sent over some new work with VR design studio Normal. The multiplayer VR game, Half + Half, launched on Oculus Quest and Rift last week after four years of Normal’s research into VR. The studio describes it as a place in virtual reality “where you can hang out with your friends,” who will be rendered AS rather cute, colorful amorphous blob figures.

The various worlds in this reality look simultaneously calming and spectacular (watch the trailer here), and the game was designed to create meaningful connections between players, with “real-time voice chat, expressive avatars to communicate with body language, and game mechanics designed to make you look as ridiculous as possible in real life.” Dazzle worked on the initial concept, branding, digital, and social for the project. The whole thing is worth checking out—it strikes us as a low barrier to entry for people who are just starting to warm up to VR, not least because of the friendly and dream-like world these studios have built.

2. When Better Letters met Josef Samuel: Vienna’s Last Signpainter

In 2017, the lettering agency Better Letters released a short film about Cliff Headford, a retired signpainter living in Bristol. It was meant to be the first of an ongoing film series about the dying discipline, and now the second installment is out: When Better Letters met Joseph Samuel is a short documentary about “Vienna’s last signpainter.” Vienna-based graphic designer Tom Koch teamed up with Better Letters to produce the 15 minute film, which follows Samuel, who also owns Vienna’s Schildermalermuseum (Sign Painter Museum), back to the heyday of sign painting in the city.


3. Designing Women from ReadyMag

“Change doesn’t come in one great thump,” Paula Scher told Print Magazine in 1993. “It comes one by one by one by one, and it looks kind of funny. And then it doesn’t.” A new online publication by Readymag called Designing Women thoughtfully collects the work and careers of women who have pushed back against inequality in design “one by one by one by one,” as Madeleine Morley puts it in an essay for the platform. Those include designers like Söre Popitz, Tomoko Miho, Muriel Cooper, April Greiman, Rebeca Méndez, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Susan Kare, and others. Alongside short historical profiles of these women, the project also includes a resources page that helpfully lists contemporary efforts to promote equality and represent women and non-gender conforming individuals in design. Central to the project is the six-part essay by Morley (who is, full disclosure, an editor at EoD), which takes as a starting point the statistic that one in five working designers in the UK are women even though seven out of every 10 design students are women—then spirals out impressively and expansively from there. The essay contextualizes this lack in the industry without shying away from the complexity and interdependency of factors that contribute to it, and Morley also tells a robust recent history of women in design with the help of contemporary designers like Na Kim, Studio Kohl’s Mira Malhotra, Anja Neidhardt of Depatriarchise Design, Offshore Studio’s Isabel Seiffert, and Griselda Flesler, the head of the University of Buenos Aires’s new Design and Gender Studies department, among others. 

It Takes Several Minutes for the Eyes to Adjust to the Dark, graduate exhibition of the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon

4. It Takes Several Minutes For The Eyes To Adjust To The Dark, graduate exhibition of the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon

We’re big fans of grad shows for many reasons, one of which is they tend to show the most exciting and ahead of the curve work and are practically prophetic about upcoming design trends. But never have we been so compelled to a grad show based purely on name alone, as we have with the graduate exhibition out of the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon. The title, It Takes Several Minutes For the Eyes to Adjust to the Dark, is a direct quote of Ingmar Bergman’s daughter, Linn Ulmann, describing her and her father’s daily movie watching rituals. The real star material is the work behind the name that pulled us in, of course—and in this case, we were impressed by these designers’ stances on political, social, and cultural issues. These range from guilt and hypercollectivism to safety, “memory as dictatorship,” cults; alchemy, and magic. The group used design studios Metahaven and Dunne & Raby as references, and used cinema as “a catalyst for new fictions,” (thus the name), and if you’re in Lisbon you can check it out for yourself at the school from October 2-18. Well done, guys.

5. Typefaces. Women in Type by Yulia Popova 

We’re leaving you with another project highlighting women in design: Typefaces. Women in Type is the thesis project of Yulia Popova that collects the histories of significant typographers, highlights 14 women currently working in type design, and provides an index of typefaces designed by women. The book is still in progress, and Popova is in the process of trying to find a publisher, but we’re eager to add it to the growing group of “women in type” documentation efforts we’ve been seeing lately—and see what might come out of these groundswell of projects on representation.