Yasuyo Iguchi, design manager for the MIT Press, discusses the growing design legacy of the Press and her work over the past nearly 40 years
2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the MIT Press, born in 1962 out of expansion efforts from MIT’s original publishing arm, the Technology Press. In the years since, the MIT Press has continually fostered an intelligent, interesting, and devoted community of staff members—in addition to publishing groundbreaking scholarship.
To celebrate 60 years of the Press, we are highlighting just a few of our long-time staff members, including design manager Yasuyo Iguchi.
Iguchi started her work at the Press in 1983, and quickly became integral to our tradition of smart, eye-catching book design. Over her nearly 40 years with the Press she has worked on countless books (and she says she “can’t name a single one”) and has helped propel the Press’s visual brand to its current iconic level.
Read our conversation with Yasuyo below, and explore our 60th anniversary website to read well-wishes from friends and supporters of the Press.
The MIT Press: When did you first start working at the Press?
Yasuyo Iguchi: I started working at the Press in 1983.
The MIT Press: What roles have you held?
Yasuyo Iguchi: I was hired as a designer, and soon after became senior designer. When my predecessor made a life change and moved to Chicago, I became assistant design manager, then design manager.
The MIT Press: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Yasuyo Iguchi: People often ask me this when they realize I’ve been at the Press for a long time. I have to say: It’s always my next project. There’s just too many books I have worked on over the years that I have really enjoyed designing, and I can’t single one out. I’m always looking forward to the next.
The MIT Press: What is your next project right now?
Yasuyo Iguchi: Many.
Working at the Press enables me to work on a variety of projects at the same time. There’s a nice balance between designing book covers and book interiors. It’s what keeps me going.
The MIT Press: How do you begin a new design project and ensure that you are including all the elements you need to evoke the crux of a book?
Yasuyo Iguchi: The trick is to start practical for covers. I can’t read the entire book, but I read the conceptual outline, author input, and sometimes parts of the book. For certain book covers, we also get feedback from the acquisitions editors, sales, and marketing before starting.
Then, it’s most important to go with your instincts. Sometimes a cover comes easily, and sometimes it doesn’t. But if you start with your design principles, it usually works out—you just never know how long the process will be and where the design will take you.
The MIT Press: What is your fondest memory of your time at the Press?
Yasuyo Iguchi: I’ve had many. But I think, for me, it’s my experience with my colleagues. I’ve worked with so many passionate, caring, and smart individuals. It’s also been an honor to work with so many great authors—especially those who are able to connect with the Press’s design sensibilities.
Bill Mitchell (author of The City of Bits), for instance, was great to work with. We were always able to come up with designs that we were both happy with quite easily. He’s just one of many authors that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
The MIT Press: What’s your all-time favorite MIT Press book?
Yasuyo Iguchi: I would have to say any book that Muriel Cooper and her group produced. Her design legacy is timeliness.
I remember in college, a classmate of mine brought an old book show catalog to class, and flipping through the pages I saw that the MIT Press stood out among other publishers—to the point that I knew I wanted to work with the Press.
The MIT Press: What do you look forward to over the next 60 years of the MIT Press?
Yasuyo Iguchi: For me, it’s key for us to continue our tradition of high design and production values. That’s the reason why I came to the Press; it’s why the Press stands out for so many other designers. It it what I hope we maintain.