Image of the Studio is an exhibition of over 75 current New York graphic design studios. Original work and portraits have been submitted by each studio, as well as a range of data designed to document the structure, history and culture of each.

Image of the City, Image of the Studio

In his groundbreaking 1960 study, The Image of the City, urban planner Kevin Lynch remarked that, “Giving visual form to the city is a special kind of design problem.” In investigating the “imageability” of urban space, Lynch raised the question of the relation of lived experience to visual form, setting forth key terms — paths, edges, nodes, districts and landmarks1 — to describe how we formulate “cognitive maps” of the cities in which we live and move.

For Lynch, these are not simply mental images or subjective impressions, but graphic forms that can be described, altered and most importantly designed. Beyond its immediate relevance to architects and city planners, The Image of the City is also a study of graphic design and how we translate the visible world into tangible form in order to grasp “a sense of the whole.”

Image of the Studio, an exhibition at The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at the Cooper Union, uses Lynch's ideas in an attempt to answer the following questions: How does living and working in New York shape contemporary studio practice on the level of scale, geography, and day-to-day organization? What does graphic design in New York look like?

The Exhibition

Image of the Studio features over 75 current graphic design firms in New York, from large and medium-sized firms to collectives and one-person studios. Original work and portraits have been submitted by each studio, as well as a range of data designed to document the structure, history and culture of each. Data visualizations and information graphics have been created to explore the relationships between studios, showing how New York connects our diverse studio practices.

Bringing these elements together, Image of the Studio documents the contemporary moment in New York graphic design, a dynamic discipline in an ever-evolving city.

The exhibition is co-curated2 and organized by the Herb Lubalin Study Center at The Cooper Union and the creative studio Athletics. It is on view October 1–28, 20133 at the 41 Cooper Gallery at The Cooper Union.

In addition, the exhibition includes a panel discussion and archive of video interviews. Upon completion, all materials will be archived at the Herb Lubalin Study Center and online at this site.

The Curators

In the Winter of 2012 Athletics approached Alexander Tochilovsky, the curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center at the Cooper Union, with the idea for Image of the Studio. Alexander and Athletics are working together to bring the exhibition to life in an effort to capture the rich culture and community of graphic design in New York City.

Herb Lubalin Study Center at The Cooper Union

The Herb Lubalin Study Center’s core collection includes an extensive archive of the work by Herb Lubalin, for whom the Center is named. Lubalin was one of the numerous graduates of The Cooper Union who contributed to the unique design sensibility that emerged in New York in the 1950s and ’60s. Since its founding in 1985, the Center’s collection has grown to include works by many eminent graphic designers, including Paul Rand, Lou Dorfsman, Alvin Lustig, Massimo Vignelli, Tibor Kalman, and many others. It is a unique public resource for students and scholars of typography and design, in that the Center provides unprecedented access to an archive of over 10,000 pieces of important design ephemera—each one accessible by the public. The goal of Lubalin Center is to further the study of graphic design through seminars, lectures and exhibitions, all of which complement the archive holdings.


Athletics is a design agency based in New York City. Founded in 2004, Athletics has grown through a commitment to design innovation and their ability to work with organizations large and small to meet the challenges of design and contemporary brand-building. Athletics’ work is focused on developing products and experiences using the web, broadcast, print and the environment in smart, interrelated ways. The Athletics team consists of practicing designers, technologists, writers and thinkers with unique expertise in their respective fields. Athletics is responsible for the exhibition design as well as development of digital tools allowing for the creation of data visualizations to appear online and in the exhibition.

Credits & Acknowledgements

This exhibition was organized by The Herb Lubalin Study Center at the Cooper Union and Athletics, with the generous support and help from our friends and colleagues.

The Lubalin Study Center at The Cooper Union

Alexander Tochilovsky, Laura Mircik-Sellers


Allison Connell, David Ahuja, David Ceraso, James Ellis, Jason Gnewikow, Malcolm Buick, Matt Owens, Matthew Spencer, Red de Leon, Samuel Rhodes

Thank You

Brian McCutcheon at Indianapolis Fabrications, Bronx Brewery, Bedell Cellars, Courtney Ford at The Cooper Union, Eric Ishii Eckhardt and Matthew Cooley, Jeff Weissman at JA Visual Group, Justin Suazo, Marcella Jyo, Mark Owens, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin at Cowboy Bear Ninja, Office for Visual Affairs, Rachel Ake, Ryan Koo, Sesame Letterpress, Shayna McClelland, Stephen Roll, The Standard East Village

A special thanks to our sponsor Adobe Typekit.

Further Reading

Related Books and Reading