November 15, 2013
by Steven Heller
Lou Danziger once offered these words of advice: “Work. Think. Feel.” Work: “No matter how brilliant, talented, exceptional and wonderful the student may be, without work there is nothing but potential and talk.” Think: “Design is a problem-solving activity. Thinking is the application of intelligence to arrive at the appropriate solution to the problem.” Feel: “Work without feeling, intuition, and spontaneity is devoid of humanity.
”I wrote this in 1998, the year Danziger received the AIGA Medal for his half century as a graphic designer, design consultant, educator, and one of America’s late Modern practitioners—the generation that came immediately after his heroes, Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig, Will Burtin and others. (See more of his legacy here.)
Danziger, born November 17, 1923, in the Bronx, New York, stood on the shoulders of pioneer Modernists, yet extended the reach of Modernism through his own achievements. Although Danziger is reluctant to be tied to any dogma, insisting, “No matter what I do, I want to do it well,” his design exemplifies the diversity of Modernism and his teaching promotes the diversity of design. Danziger is a “designer’s designer and an educator’s educator,” states Katherine McCoy, former co-chair of Cranbrook Academy, about the man for whom designing and teaching are two distinct but decidedly unified disciplines. Indeed, he has significantly affected many design genres—including advertising, corporate work, and the design of books, periodicals, museum catalogs and exhibitions—and influenced the hundreds of students who attended his classes at Chouinard, CalArts, Harvard University, and the Art Center College of Design. Danziger lived the modern life, from his studio (designed by Frank Gehry) to his every spoken word. Read more .