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Civilization Design Lecture Series Kicks Off This Month

The wildly popular four-part series is held at the Seattle Public Library’s central branch and aims to spark engaging conversation about design.

Seattle-based design practice Civilization kicks off its annual Design Lecture Series this month, featuring a slew of graphic design legends including Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Jerome Harris, M/M Paris, and Irma Boom.

Each speaker will share inspiring stories of their experiences and initiate engaging conversations around the importance of design in our contemporary world. The free, four-part series, held at the Seattle Public Library’s downtown location, begins on Friday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m. with Levrant de Bretteville. While this date is already sold out, standby seats will be available that night. Pro tip: Snag tickets to the next talk in advance!


Sheila Levrant de Bretteville Friday, February 7 (sold out) Sheila Levrant de Bretteville is a graphic designer, artist, and educator whose work reflects her belief in the importance of diversity and equality in graphic design and celebrating diversity in local communities. In 1969, while the California Institute of the Arts was being planned, Levrant de Bretteville was asked to create the graphic identity for the institute, where she soon after landed her first teaching job. Two years later she left to co-founded the independent Los Angeles “Woman’s Building,” a public center for female culture, and its Women’s Graphic Center. After leaving the Woman’s Building to the next generation in 1981, Levant de Bretteville crossed the country and initiated the Communication Design and Illustration program at the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design. She later joined the Yale School of Art faculty as its first tenured woman in 1990 and has served as a professor and director of graduate studies in the graphic design program (one of the oldest and most important in the country) for more than 30 years.


Jerome Harris headshot

Jerome Harris Friday, March 6

Harris’s research into the exclusion of African-American graphic designers in the industry has manifested as a traveling exhibition that has shown at multiple universities and arts organizations throughout 2019. The show, As, For Not: Dethroning Our Absolutes, an incomplete historical survey of work created by African-American graphic designers over the last century, was originally mounted at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), then will go on to show at RISD and Jacob Lawrence Gallery and Non-Breaking Space in Seattle, in spring 2020.

M/M Paris headshot

M/M Paris April 2020 (date TBA)

Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak formed M/M (Paris), in 1992. The studio’s portfolio includes art direction for and collaborations with Björk, Balenciaga, and Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, as well as work with magazines including Vogue Paris, Interview, and Purple Fashion. Since 1996 they have extended their practice through the mounting of art exhibitions, and the duo has been included in group shows at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), and Centre Pompidou (Paris).


Irma Boom Saturday, May 9

As Publisher’s Weekly explains, “What Boom does with books breaks all the rules. She designs them without page numbers (‘Without page numbers, you discover other things that you were not looking for,’ she says); she designs them without ink, without text (as in her homage to artist Ellsworth Kelly), or with text that spills over into the margins. She makes ‘fat’ books of thousands of pages; she makes books so tiny they fit in the palm of a hand. She doesn’t think of an audience. “‘If it’s good,’ she says, ‘the audience will appear.’” Boom is the youngest recipient of the Gutenberg Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding services to the advancement of the book arts. A selection of her books are held in the permanent collection of MoMA, and a personalized Irma Boom Archive has been set up at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, showcasing Boom’s work.


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