Louise Fili is an American graphic designer who grew up in an Italian-American family in New Jersey. Her style is characterized by graceful, calligraphic elegance, bringing together old and new to create contemporary forms in typography. Fili’s work currently focuses on restaurant identity, food-related logos and packaging. There are three things that interest her the most: food, type, and all things Italian. She comments – “I have to say that I won’t take on a packaging project if I don’t like the product. It would be difficult to design something that I don’t feel good about. I like to eat just about everything, except for foods that don’t like me, which is anything with dairy in it”
As a child she loved making letters. At college she recalls:
“Soon I would be making illuminated manuscripts of Bob Dylan lyrics to sell to my classmates. I still didn’t know what graphic design was. At that time it was called commercial art – a very unsexy term”
During a early freelance assignment in NYC Louise first discovered her love of designing books and subsequently she worked at Random House as art director for Pantheon in the late 70’s. Her quiet, elegant cover design for Marguerite Duras’ The Lover helped rocket the book to bestseller status. As a result she was given free reign and designed nearly 2,000 book jackets in her signature style.
Louise’s husband is writer and design historian Steven Heller, he says, “I noticed Louise’s work long before we met…What I saw in the work was a distinctive flair. It had bits of the past, but entirely reinterpreted.… in a sea of book jackets and covers…her designs stood out for their precision, humanity and aesthetic joy.” The pair have since co-authored many books, including Italian Art Deco and Shadow Type.
There weren’t many female-founded art studios then, and naming a studio after yourself was a brave move, when she went ahead with Louise Fili Ltd she sent a clear message –
“If you have a problem with my being female, then I don’t want you as a client.”