Sylvia Harris—an accomplished
information design strategist, former director on the AIGA national board and active
member of the AIGA community—died this past weekend at the age of 57. She was
the principal of Citizen Research & Design, a communications firm balancing “policy and design in order to serve people.” Through her private practice, her involvement in
initiatives such as AIGA Design for Democracy and her role on the U.S. Postal
Service’s Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, she was a “champion of good design for the public realm” for more than
In 2010 AIGA celebrated Harris’s achievements
in the exhibition “Design Journeys: You Are Here,” in which her personal and professional path to becoming a designer was spotlighted. Her passing comes as a great shock. AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé comments, “Sylvia was a touchstone at each shift in the
direction of AIGA and the profession. She was supportive, active and deeply committed
to AIGA and the entire profession, to the potential of the creative mind, and
to design as a calling, not simply a vocation, in which we all could contribute
to a higher purpose. To say Sylvia will be missed is an understatement.”
Helfand was with Harris in Washington, D.C., for a Citizen's Stamp Advisory
Committee meeting when Harris was taken ill. A brief notice is published here.
A longer remembrance will be published on Design Observer later this week. Most recently Helfand and Harris worked together on
the “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” series of commemorative stamps,
recognizing the contributions of designers to American life.
When Harris was interviewed for the “Design Journeys” project in 2007, we asked how she would like to be remembered 100 years from now.
Her response: “A citizen designer who made a difference.”
Harris is survived by her husband, Gary Singer, their daughter,
Thai, and her sister, Juliette Harris.
Updated July 26: Obituary for Sylvia Harris Singer in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Where is the love? Caplan notices how rarely designers receive credit or even the recognition that design is the result of talent and hard work.
Section: Inspiration -
Through her work for clients in business, nonprofit and government, design strategist Sylvia Harris has dedicated her practice to ensuring that public information systems are accessible to everyone.
Section: Inspiration -
Design Journeys, information design, government, nonprofit, service design, diversity, design educators, students
Design for Democracy applies design to increase civic participation by bringing clarity in the interactions between the U.S. government and its citizens.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Democracy, election design, students
Curious about what it’s like to work in-house at Facebook? Brian Singer, manager, communication design, interviews himself about life at the company.
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