• Steven Heller

Take Two Mah Jongg Tablets and . . .

Mah Jongg is a beautifully designed game associated with the Far East and East Bronx, which is where my grandmother played it for decades. Pentagram’s Abbott Miller never played it, but he recently designed an exhibition about Mah Jongg, “Project Mah Jongg,” and its Jewish American influences at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. And he edited and designed an issue of 2wice titled Mah Jongg: Crak Bam Dot, devoted to the artifacts in the exhibition along with extra content by fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who sketched mah jongg-inspired ensembles; Maira Kalman, who illustrated a “mah jongg murder mystery”; Bruce McCall, who created “Miami Mah Jongg,” juxtaposing ancient Chinese figures patiently tutoring a group of Jewish women; and Christoph Neimann, who designed new tile iconography combining the visual language of mah jongg with symbols of Jewish life. Essays are also included by Jennifer 8. Lee, on the popularity of Chinese food with American Jews; Wendy Goodman, on the designer Tony Duquette; Paul Shaw, on ethnic typefaces; and Daniel Cappello, on the Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. For more about the mah jongg exhibit go here.

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →