Remembering Sylvia Harris

Sylvia Harris, founder of Citizen Design & Research in Brooklyn, New York, died on Sunday June 24, from complications due to heart failure while attending a meeting in Washington, D.C. She was 57.

This will doubtless be a time of reflection and remembrance for many friends and colleagues. Sylvia passed at the height of her energy as an advocate and practitioner of design for the public good.

She labeled her work as

“Strategic communications planning and innovation leadership for public-serving institutions. Experience includes communications assessments, strategies and user experience master planning.”

But she was much more . . .

Sylvia was a true conscience of this profession. She was warm and sincere and always anxious to help others – especially young designers. She engaged in projects that were designed to help transform our lives for the better. Honestly, I was a little intimidated by Sylvia, even though she never did anything to make that so. She was just so natural and unassuming in her advocacy – never preaching, never forcing views. I looked to her as a beacon. And like a little kid looking for approval, the last time I saw her, at one of the SVA MFA program public events, when she told me how good she thought the presentations were, I was elated – because it was Sylvia.

When asked by AIGA what she wanted to do next, Sylvia responded:

“I am interested in nutritional publishing. I would like to start a educational organization that gets the word out about nutrition in simple ways that are easily to understand. I would like to target the Black community in particular.”

Oh how she will be missed.

For those who are unfamiliar with her work please take a moment to visit these sites:

AIGA biography and profile.

AIGA memorial.

Citizen Design & Research projects.

Jessica Helfand’s remembrance.

Related Articles:

ADD A COMMENT

1 COMMENT

  1. Steve, thank you for your words regarding Sylvia and for letting us know of her passing. I didn’t know Sylvia, but by chance I was looking through her website last month… inspired by her greater good design. Your words on Sylvia are beautiful and they make you feel as though we knew her. We have all had the fortune of meeting gifts like Sylvia…  beacons that inspire us by example to do those things we may feel is beyond us. Thank you.