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MICHELE Y. WASHINGTON

michael cousins

At three years old, Michele Y. Washington could be found in her grandmother's kitchen rearranging the collection of salt-and-pepper shakers by color. This first clue that her life path would lead through the landscape of design came as no surprise to the other creatively inclined members of her family: her uncle Horace Baldwin Washington, a San Francisco sculptor and muralist; a great aunt who ended up teaching grade school because it was extremely difficult for a black woman artist to earn a viable living through her own work at the time; and another uncle who studied glass blowing and advertising design at Syracuse University but spent his life working as a shop teacher. The coveted prize of a design career would prove to be more easily attainable for a member of Washington's generation. Her journey as a graphic designer, educator and writer reflects an omnivorous approach to life and learning, each area of her work informing and overlapping the others to form a unified whole. Whether teaching a graduate-level exhibition design class at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) or working with clients at her firm, Washington Design, in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood, she brings a structured, nuanced combination of eclectic influences to bear on the finished result. Her design embraces the world of hand-based craft while remaining modern and disciplined in its regard for the formalities of typography and composition.

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