New York–based graphic artist Louise Fili is as passionate about letters, typefaces, and historic signage as she is about food, Italian culture, and savoring life’s simple pleasures.
The recipient of lifetime achievement awards from AIGA (2014) and the Type Directors Club (2015) – just the pinnacle of an awards mountain – Fili is the consummate designer’s designer. She has created unforgettable corporate signatures (the Tiffany & Co. monogram, the Paperless Post stamp), restaurant identities (Artisanal, Mermaid Inn, Pearl Oyster Bar), and food and wine packaging (Tate’s Bake Shop, Sarabeth’s); published a dozen prestigious design books, many with her husband, Steve Heller; and has so far been commissioned to design two USPS postage stamps, the most recent of which, an ode to skywriting, debuted in January.
The New Jersey–born Italian-American began her career as a senior designer for Herb Lubalin, spent 11 years at Pantheon Books quietly revolutionizing the art of book design, and then flew solo with the launch of her design studio, Louise Fili Ltd., in 1989.
Ninety Nine U joined Fili for lunch at Via Carota in the West Village, whose logo she created for its launch in 2015, to talk about why your studio’s name matters, the reason your client’s person in charge must be present at all meetings, and what happens when you serve gelato at your studio presentations.
Europe, and Italy in particular, seems to be an endless source of inspiration to you. When did you first realize you had such an affinity for Italian culture? Was it on a trip?