Posted on Monday, May 17, 2010 by Jim Norrena
AIGA's Medal was designed by James Earle Fraser in 1920
With a towering career trajectory that boasts almost as many accolades as there were graduates at commencement, California College of the Arts Graphic Design adjunct professor Jennifer Morla recently was awarded an AIGA Medal, considered the most distinguished in the field of design.
Yet considering Morla's exceptional contributions to the design community, few here at CCA were surprised. We've come to expect good things from this talented member of the CCA faculty.
AIGA, the professional association for design, is the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. Its AIGA Medal is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services, or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication.
According to the AIGA website: “Medals have been awarded since 1920 to individuals who have set standards of excellence over a lifetime of work or have made individual contributions to innovation within the practice of design.”
A Legacy of Medalists
Morla now follows in the footsteps of such noteworthy and distinguished design practitioners as Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, Tibor Kalman, Milton Glaser, Massimo and Leila Vignelli, and Paula Scher, as well as CCA’s own Michael Vanderbyl. (View a complete list of past recipients.)
Notes Cheryl Heller, chair of the AIGA member-based awards committee that recommended each honoree to the AIGA board of directors: “Each Medalist this year is completely unique. . . . [They are] examples of how to be a true leader and live a life in design.” Medalists will be recognized at the annual Design Legends gala celebration.
About Jennifer Morla
Born in 1955 in New York, Morla has been an instructor at CCA since 1992. She also is a former national board member of AIGA and former president of AIGA San Francisco. She became an AIGA Fellow in 2008. According to the AIGA press release, she is “a consummate communications designer, endowed with a sensibility that uses craft, technique, medium, and an intuitive understanding of how words and images can influence human understanding and delight.”
Morla is president and creative director of Morla Design in San Francisco, whose impressive client list includes Apple, Chronicle Books, The Discovery Channel, Gap, MTV Networks, Random House, SFMOMA, Shaklee Corporation, United Airlines, and Williams-Sonoma, to list just a sampling of remarkable names.
She has been honored internationally for her design work that ranges from packaging to branding to retail. Morla served as chief creative marketing officer for Design Within Reach from 2005–8, the San Francisco–based purveyor of modern furniture classics, which earned her an AIGA Corporate Leadership Award for the successful interaction between aesthetics and business pragmatics.
She also was responsible for the branding and identity of the corporation, including the Tools for Living stores, or as she calls them, “modern general stores,” which involves repurposing existing items for useful in-home means. "We wanted to see if there was another use for such objects, and we looked to improve what’s considered mass-market design."
Today she boasts a collection in excess of 300 awards for excellence in graphic design, which underscores the assertion she’s been recognized by virtually “every organization in the field of visual communication.”
Morla has been published extensively, most notably in the fifth edition of the de facto book on design: Meggs’ History of Graphic Design (Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis, John Wiley & Sons). She has been the feature article in numerous magazines such as Graphis, Communication Arts, IDEA (Japan), and Novum (Germany).
In addition to teaching design at CCA since 1992, Morla is an elected member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), a renowned design organization based in Zurich. She lectures and judges internationally and has served on the Architecture and Design Accessions Board at SFMOMA since 1995.
AIGA, the professional association for design, is the premier place for design—to discover it, discuss it, understand it, appreciate it, be inspired by it. It is the place designers turn to first to exchange ideas and information, participate in critical analysis, and research and advance education and ethical practices. AIGA sets the national agenda for the role of design in its economic, social, political, cultural and creative contexts.
Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. AIGA now represents more than 20,000 design professionals, educators, and students through national activities and local programs developed by 65 chapters and 200 student groups.