Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili

March 2 - May 21, 2017

Louise Fili has been a graphic designer since 1973. From a fortunate early job with Herb Lubalin (1976–78) to art directorship of Pantheon Books (1978–89) to opening Louise Fili Ltd in 1989, she has mastered an art based on the reinterpretation and invention of exquisite type and typography. Throughout her career she has remained loyal to her oft-invoked three passions “all things food, type and Italian.” 

Fili’s specialties have enabled her to build and evolve that rarest of design values: a distinctive personality that enhances the clients’ needs. A wide range of methods co-exist throughout this work yet they all have the Fili imprimatur. From typographic customization, using history as her guide, to hand lettering rooted in an innate mastery of ornamental form, she is fluent in numerous design languages. She has been master of the book cover, food package and restaurant identity. Yet of all these métiers, the jewel in her crown is logo design. Not the standardized corporate brands, but flowing letterform and pictographic marks that reveal elegance, grace and devotion to precision. She makes everything look effortless but her workmanship is intense.

This exhibition is a celebration of how a designer’s vision can be personal yet universal, and bring joy to client and consumer. —Steven Heller