Louise Sandhaus Named Recipient of 2022 AIGA Medal

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School of Art faculty Louise Sandhaus (Art BFA 93, MFA 94) has been named one of three 2022 AIGA Medalists, honored for contributions to the field of design. Known as the most distinguished honor in the communication design profession, Sandhaus was awarded for “her presence and voice in the community as an educator and author,” and the elevation of under-recognized designers through her work. She will receive a medal alongside fellow awardees Emily Oberman and Andrew Satake Blauvelt during the AIGA Design Conference, running from Thursday, Oct. 20 to Saturday, Oct. 22 in Seattle.

Sandhaus’ commitment to community and preserving design history is evidenced by her innovative work The People’s Graphic Design Archive (PGDA), which officially launched on Thursday, Sept. 1. Conceived in 2014 and developed alongside co-directors Brockett Horne, Briar Levit, and Morgan Searcy, the crowdsourced digital archive serves to preserve the work of underrepresented designers who might not be able to afford to keep physical archives, and to counteract the erasure of “remarkable historical design material produced by unrecognized designers,” per an official release by the archive organizers. 

In an interview with fellow CalArts alum Margaret Andersen (Art MFA 16) for AIGA, Sandhaus discussed PGDA, a project eight years in the making:

By utilizing a digital platform, we can work collectively as a design community to discover, document, and preserve our shared design history. At its core, it’s about honoring and recognizing that everything is valued, and every person is valued, and that anyone can contribute to preserving this history.  

The New York Times’ recent spotlight of happenings in the design world described the archive as a savior of everyday design: “The digital archive, which currently contains about 5,000 items, allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to upload — and thereby keep — any piece of ephemera.”

The People’s Graphic Design Archive continues to expand the discourse on design, and serves as an extension of Sandhaus’ mentorship to the graphic design community.  

In 1998, Sandhaus became the co-director of the Graphic Design Program. She started her own studio, LSD (Louise Sandhaus Design), while simultaneously producing an exhibition at LACMA. Her work on the exhibition allowed her access to more than 800 California artifacts, whichlaid the foundation for her first book titled Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936–1986.

In April 2019, she published A Colorful Life: Gere Kavanaugh, Designer, co-written by her former student Kat Catmur (Art MFA 14). The book expanded on Kavanaugh’s extensive work, which included furniture, sculptures, graphics, toys, textiles, and more. A Colorful Life was honored by AIGA’s 2019 “50 Books, 50 Covers” competition. 


Ness is a CalArts Film/Video Alumni from 2019 and now she serves as a digital content and social media producer for the communications team at CalArts. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and various TV series while hanging out with her two cats, Cleo and Freya, and her Australian shepherd pup named Dutch.

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