SVA to Honor Design Legend Louise Fili with 28th Annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition

March 29, 2016

School of Visual Arts will honor designer and educator Louise Fili with the 28th annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition. “The Masters Series: Louise Fili” will be the first comprehensive retrospective of the designer’s influential career and include her book jacket, branding, food packaging and restaurant identity work. fili200The exhibition will be on view from October 14 through December 10 at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, located at 209 East 23rd Street. A reception for the exhibition will be held on Thursday, October 13 from 6:00 – 8:00pm at the gallery.

Louise Fili is probably best known for the food and hospitality branding and packaging work she has done through her eponymous design studio, founded in 1989. Her wine bottle and jam jar labels, cookie and cracker boxes and coffee bags can be found in countless pantries and shops, and her visual-identity work has defined the look of dozens of popular bakeries, cafés and restaurants.

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Inspired by Italian typographic design from the early twentieth century, these wine labels for Polaner Selections are virtual mini-posters.

But her design career, begun in the 1970s, encompasses much more. For 11 years, Fili was art director at Pantheon Books, where she designed more than 2,000 book covers. Logos that she has created include redesigned marks for the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and Paperless Post. Her past and present clients include Hyperion Books, Rizzoli, Sarabeth’s, Tate’s Bake Shop, Tiffany & Co., Williams-Sonoma and the U.S. Postal Service. She has authored or co-authored more than 20 books on design and typography is a longtime faculty member of SVA’s BFA and MFA Design departments.

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Elegantissima is a 256-page monograph featuring the nearly forty-year career of Louise Fili, from books to restaurants to food packaging and identities, with illuminating case studies.

Much of Fili’s work reflects her deep respect for Italian culture, a passion ignited at the age of 16 during a trip to the country, her family’s ancestral home. Fili has continued to fuel her passion for all things Italian with annual trips taken ever since. During a stay in 1990, while researching Italian Art Deco, Fili fostered her penchant for Italian 1930s poster design and discovered a collection of pasticceria papers that would foreshadow a switch in her career from book design to food packaging.

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For the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, covers for a series of the ten great novels that shaped the nation were designed for Rizzoli International. The books have an authentic yet timeless look.

Fili’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Her many honors include medals for life time achievement from the AIGA and Type Directors Club, gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators and the New York Art Directors Club, the Premio Grafico from the Bologna Book Fair and three James Beard Award nominations.

In 1988, SVA founder Silas H. Rhodes instituted the College’s Masters Series, an award and exhibition honoring great visual communicators of our time. Although the achievements of many groundbreaking designers, illustrators, art directors and photographers are known to and lauded by their colleagues, their names often go unrecognized by the general public. The Masters Series brings greater exposure to those whose influence has been felt strongly and by many, yet without widespread recognition.

Masters Series laureates are Marshall Arisman, Saul Bass, Michael Bierut, R. O. Blechman, Ivan Chermayeff, Seymour Chwast, Paul Davis, Lou Dorfsman, Heinz Edelmann, Jules Feiffer, Shigeo Fukuda, Tom Geismar, Milton Glaser, April Greiman, Steven Heller, George Lois, Mary Ellen Mark, Ed McCabe, James McMullan, Duane Michals, Tony Palladino, Paula Scher, Edward Sorel, Deborah Sussman, George Tscherny, Paul Rand and Massimo Vignelli.

For more information about “The Masters Series: Louise Fili,” click here.

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