By David Reinfurt and Robert Wiesenberger
240 pages, hardcover, $60
Published by The MIT Press
It’s difficult not to get immediately galvanized by Muriel Cooper, the legendary designer and educator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In Muriel Cooper, authors David Reinfurt and Robert Wiesenberger showcase Cooper’s equally inspiring work and life within two in-depth essays on the designer’s print and digital works—complete with statements from the designer herself—and a heartfelt foreword by information architect Lisa Strausfeld that reflects on Cooper’s legacy and character. “Muriel had a liberating disregard for a number of protocols embedded in her time and place,” writes Strausfeld. And it’s true—Cooper not only helped bring design to digital arenas, but also created her own academic station in a time when most women were discouraged from doing so.
Reinfurt and Wiesenberger further list Cooper’s innovations through their essays. In “Hard Copy,” Wiesenberger explores how Cooper’s early life influenced her—notably her time working with designer and artist György Kepes—and how her Visible Language Workshop at MIT reestablished the connection between designer and process. “Soft Copy,” Reinfurt’s essay, demonstrates how Cooper blazed a trail in real-time reproduction with computers and information design in the late ’70s to early ’80s; Reinfurt also details how the Visible Language Workshop evolved beyond print, paving the way for digital design. The book also presents a wealth of Cooper’s prints, computer graphics and manifestos on the designer’s responsibility in the digital realm. As the authors declare in the introduction, “this book is intended, then, not as an archive but as a sourcebook for future production.” —Michael Coyne