I’ve been reading my way through the interviews at the back of Supergraphics. Barbara Stauffacher Solomon is a woman whom I’d like to meet. With this many honest and biting quotes, she most assuredly has more than a few stories to tell. Some of my favourite quotes from her interview.
Can you describe how you came to do this [original Sea Ranch supergraphics] project?
I was having an affair with Al Boeke.
What is your view on this [supergraphics as means to convey commercial messaging] development?
My house in San Francisco presents a different selling job. The ordinary four-storey building was… in keeping with this old San Francisco neighborhood. …open the door you see a gutted and remodelled glass and white … Corbusier Maison Citron (sic.) architectural space.
Yes! I’m a general fan of Corbu anyway, and I admire the Citröhan design. I would relish the opportunity to walk into her house thinking, “Christ, yet another San Francisco shithole built out of wood and liable to fall down at the mere hint of an earthquake,” only to discover Corbusier in my face. That would be a good day in my book.
…beacons of modernist design… - offered you a job which you declined.
I was in New York working at Geigy to make some money while I waited for Heinz Hossdorf to get a divorce and marry me. I just wanted to get back… and be with my daughter… I was more concerned with all this than my career. … I did the work for a few months and returned to Heinz and more waiting. As for Unimark, I feared that if I worked there, I’d go to hell in New York.
You also seem to have become disillusioned… Can you talk about this?
I worked too hard, always alone, being frantic not famous. I liked working alone in my office,… but I wasn’t good at the self-promotion game. Charles Moore and Bill Turnbull became aloof when I married Dan [Solomon]. It seems that I got too much press that didn’t mention Charles. He hired other designers for his next projects and publicized his Sea Ranch buildings painted with my Supergraphic without crediting me.
Unfortunately real books don’t have crtl+f, but I know that Barbara had at least one more great quote in there about how design is about “turning shit into ice cream.” That’s a keeper! I’m sure to piss off a few designers with that one.
Barbara, without knowing any more, my heart goes out to you. You’ve had a hell of a life, that’s for sure.
The interview with Paula Scher also had a zinger.
Why are so many of the leading figures in Supergraphics women?
I have no real proof of this but… women always get low paying jobs. Jobs that have puny budgets. Supergraphics is the best way to get a lot of bang for your buck.