21 Things You Don’t Know About Eddie Opara

You’ve seen his work. You’ve walked into his spaces. You’ve purchased his books, including the cannabis one. You may be smitten with his colleagues Paula Scher and Michael Bierut. Now take a moment to learn a few things you may not know about the design icon Eddie Opara.

1. Born in Wandsworth, London in 1972

2. AIGA/Worldstudio 1996 scholarship recipient

3. London College of Printing and Yale University graduate

4. If he weren’t a designer, he would have pursued carpentry or architecture.

5. He is inspired by his mother’s Nigerian head wraps.

6. His favorite books are anything written by Hanif Kureshi.

7. His ideal person would have the intellect of Malcolm Gladwell, the humor of Chris Rock, the creativity of David Adjaye.

8. A quote he takes to heart: “Design is spiritual,” by his father.

9. His wallpaper for Prada men’s fashion show featured a 6-ft rendering of a man and wrapped the entire space.

10. In 1997, he won the AIGA Gold medal for students.

11. Some of his favorite movies include: Ice StormDeer HunterAmelieTo Kill a MockingbirdTwelve Angry MenNo Country for Old Men, and Inherit the Wind.

12. He encourages designers to sketch and concept ideas in a journal.

13. Awarded Fast Company’s Most Creative Person in 2012 and 2013

14. His work is part of Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) permanent collection.

15. The inspiration for his Stealth installation came from the book “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, which explores the struggles of being African American in the early 20th century and “is a physical representation of being literally visible, but figuratively invisible — a subject that really impacted and influenced him in his youth.”

16. He believes designers are never finished.

17. He developed a highly sophisticated, interactive, web-based content management system called MiG.

18. Named in Ebony magazine’s “Power 100 Black American” list in 2011.

19. He is part of Platform, a nonprofit organization aiming to increase the interest and participation of underrepresented groups — particularly African Americans, Latinos and Americans — in technology and entrepreneurship.

20. His favorite fine artists include Gustav Klimt, Cy Twombly, Marc Rothko and Nathan Carter.

21. Worst habit is shaving.

Eddie Opara is an award-winning designer, teacher and partner at Pentagram New York, an office of the world’s largest (and one of the most prestigious) independent design consultancy. He is a thoughtful and multi-faceted designer whose work encompasses strategy, design and technology. With a background in graphic design he taught himself knowledge in new media, software, and motion graphics. Prior to joining Pentagram in 2010, Eddie spent five years running his own studio in New York, The Map Office, which boasted clients such as Vitra, Prada, The Menil Collection in Houston, and Morgan Stanley. Opara’s work has appeared in museums and in publications such as Archis, Surface, Graphis, and I.D. and was appointed critic in graphic design at Yale in 2010, and is a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

This post was written by Dian Holton, based on articles and presentations given by Opara over the years.

By Dian Holton
Published January 5, 2016