- Winner of the 2017 AIGA 50 books 50 covers in the book and book cover design category.
240 pp., 10 x 14 in, 202 color illus., 137 b&w illus.
- Published: September 22, 2017
The career of the pioneering designer Muriel Cooper, whose work spanned media from printed book to software interface; generously illustrated in color.
Muriel Cooper (1925–1994) was the pioneering designer who created the iconic MIT Press colophon (or logo)—seven bars that represent the lowercase letters “mitp” as abstracted books on a shelf. She designed a modernist monument, the encyclopedic volume The Bauhaus (1969), and the graphically dazzling and controversial first edition of Learning from Las Vegas (1972). She used an offset press as an artistic tool, worked with a large-format Polaroid camera, and had an early vision of e-books. Cooper was the first design director of the MIT Press, the cofounder of the Visible Language Workshop at MIT, and the first woman to be granted tenure at MIT's Media Lab, where she developed software interfaces and taught a new generation of designers. She began her four-decade career at MIT by designing vibrant printed flyers for the Office of Publications; her final projects were digital. This lavishly illustrated volume documents Cooper's career in abundant detail, with prints, sketches, book covers, posters, mechanicals, student projects, and photographs, from her work in design, teaching, and research at MIT.
A humanist among scientists, Cooper embraced dynamism, simultaneity, transparency, and expressiveness across all the media she worked in. More than two decades after her career came to a premature end, Muriel Cooper's legacy is still unfolding. This beautiful slip-cased volume, designed by Yasuyo Iguchi, looks back at a body of work that is as contemporary now as it was when Cooper was experimenting with IBM Selectric typewriters. She designed design's future.
Muriel Cooper's search for a more fluid and process-driven design practice—ranging from the static of print media, fixed in time, to the dynamic of electronic media, changing in real time—is an inspiration to any designer seeking to understand the evolution of contemporary design practice. Her complex yet utopian vision of the potential for seamless communication, to be experienced by both designers and their audiences, is still compelling.
Lorraine Wild, California Institute of the Arts
Take all the strands that define contemporary media, technology, and design, and follow them back in time to their source. To your astonishment, you will find all the strands converge in a single person: Muriel Cooper. This book will dispel any doubts: if today's ever-expanding information universe began with one big bang, Muriel Cooper stood squarely at the center of it.
Michael Bierut, Partner, Pentagram Design
Muriel Cooper is one of most influential and inspiring, yet little known figures in 20th-century design. Until now. What a pleasure to finally read a book that describes Cooper and her work so eloquently.
Alice Rawsthorn, author of Hello World: Where Design Meets Life
Muriel Cooper was a theorist, a humanist, a futurist, and a deeply principled designer whose work was as driven by thoughtful inquiry as by function and strategy. In a chaotic world overrun by data and digits, her inventive contributions remain as elegant, her observations as trenchant as ever. This book is long overdue.
Jessica Helfand, Yale School of Art