Recognized for design that elevates culture, fusing content and form through elegant and incisive publications, exhibitions and identities.
In 1989, Abbott Miller founded a company with his wife, Ellen Lupton, whose name straightforwardly announced its breadth: Design / Writing / Research.
Though it may sound simple to combine those endeavors, creative, communicative and scholarly abilities are like strings, keyboards and percussion:
harmonious when executed well, but rarely performed by a single band member.
And yet, symphonic richness and deceptively easy clarity have always been hallmarks of Miller’s design. A partner at Pentagram since 1999, he enhances the
legacies of people and institutions that have defined culture, high and low. His environmental designs and graphic identities have complemented buildings
by the architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Thom Mayne and Tadao Ando. His exhibition designs and catalogues have lushly interpreted the art
of Matthew Barney, the seduction of motorcycles and the fashion of superheroes. In his hands, the history of the Formica Corporation gets the same
thoughtful treatment as the design theory of the Bauhaus.
Miller is not just a magnifier of cultural beacons; he is also a source of light. Dance Ink, a magazine he art directed that froze dancers’ bodies
on paper without arresting the thrill of their dynamics, reset the bar for editorial design. Published from 1989 to 1996, it also marked the beginning of
his ongoing collaboration with its founder, Patsy Tarr. In 1997, they launched a successor, 2wice, a semiannual paean to monomania. Edited by
Miller, each issue of 2wice explored a single theme, including feet, interiors and uniforms. Later, it assumed the dance focus of its predecessor
and moved into the digital realm.
Recently, Miller has moved into creating iPad apps that approach the digital tablet as a completely new stage for dance and interaction. In Fifth Wall, for instance, the choreographer and dancer Jonah Bokaer gyrates in a series of overlapping frames that, when rotated (by Miller),
prove to be shallow boxes.
Born in northwest Indiana in 1963, Miller enrolled at Cooper Union to study art and was caught up in the intellectual ferment produced by its faculty. He
was inspired by George Sadek’s emphasis on verbal wit, Hans Haacke’s insistence on the artist’s political responsibility and Niki Logis’s articulation of
the language of sculpture. “Sometimes I miss that crazy intensity,” he recently said. “Where does that happen now?”
Today, a typical day for Miller is a culture vulture’s dream. A recent one began with a meeting at the Guggenheim Museum, for which he has designed the
identity, website and publications. On this occasion, he was preparing to show his dance apps at a museum program. Then it was on to the Brooklyn Museum
and a photo shoot for a book about avant-garde shoe design. The next day would bring a presentation of his proposals for environmental graphics for
Morphosis’s building at the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City.
Crowning it all were his preparations for the forthcoming release of his own monograph and the opening of an Abbott Miller exhibition at the University of
Monterrey in Mexico. Both will showcase the scope of his career, with all of its cultural touch points, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Harley-Davidson. “I
don’t see the pursuit of interesting and beautiful design as fundamentally at odds with the broadest possible marketplace,” he has said. “In that sense I
am an optimist.”
Abbott Miller will be presented with the AIGA Medal at The AIGA Centennial Gala on April 25, 2014, in New York City.
Meet the 2016 AIGA Medalists! The distinguished AIGA Medal is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements in the field of design.
Section: Inspiration -
AIGA Medal, design educators, students
Abbott Miller is recognized with the AIGA Medal for design that elevates culture by fusing content and form through elegant and incisive publications, exhibitions and identities.
Section: Inspiration -
AIGA Medal, interview
AIGA’s design community will gather in New York City on April 15 to honor the AIGA Medalists and support national design initiatives. The 2016 AIGA Awards Gala is presented by LG.
Section: Events and Competitions -
AIGA Medal, Event, awards
Video: AIGA Medalist Bill Moggridge
About this video
Bill Moggridge was recognized with the AIGA Medal
for a career and life shaped by the tenets of design thinking—and for his belief that the designer’s ultimate role lies in negotiating the relationship
between people and things.
An epic tale of deception, stolen artwork, and crappy logos.
Section: Inspiration -
identity design, critique, personal essay, legal issues
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