Remembering Sylvia Harris


Sylvia Harris, our founder, passed away on Sunday, July 24th, 2011. She was an esteemed colleague, an insightful mentor, and a true advocate for design. We welcome your thoughts and memories below.


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Saki Mafundikwa wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

Sylvia took on many causes in

Sylvia took on many causes in her life and I was one of them: she introduced me as THE Afrikan Design voice to the design community in the US and supported me both materially and emotionally in my dream to start my country's first Graphic Design and New Media school – ZIVA. Although always busy, she always made time to see me when I called at her Brooklyn brownstone home office on my numerous trips back to the States. We'd catch up over a cup of tea and she never gave me the opportunity to ask about her work – she wanted to hear how I was faring in my country, how the school was doing and told me how she was forever on the lookout for speaking engagement opportunities for me in the US.

Sometimes long periods would pass before we spoke, but every time we did, it was like we had never lost touch.

If heaven is a place where those who were angels on earth go, then Sylvia IS in heaven right now, looking down on us with her forever smile and wishing us all well and wondering why we are so sad, for she is not gone – she lives forever in our hearts, in our memories and mostly through her work.

Rebecca Trump wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

Sylvia, you are and will

Sylvia, you are and will always be an inspiration to me. You have shown us that design and social impact are inextricably linked, or really just the same thing. I am so honored to have known you, even just a little. An incredibly kind and caring soul. My thoughts are with you, your husband, daughter, family and friends. Peace, Rebecca

Pamela Webster-Walsh wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

There are no words.

There are no words. Thirty-five years of friendship and wonderful memories will keep her in my heart and mind forever. Such a terrible loss for the many, but for Gary and Thai, unimaginable.

Karelia Moore wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

When I moved to new york

When I moved to new york after graduation, I had a list of designers to email whose work I had admired. Sylvia was at the top of the list.

She was so sweet and kind enough to meet with me and even let me help with a small part of a project her group was working on at the time. I greatly enjoyed the experience and really hoped to have worked with her and Katie as a more seasoned professional someday.

I was so very sad to hear of her passing. All my best to her family, the Citizen R&D staff, and those in the design community she's influenced over the years. She will be sorely missed.

Anonymous wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

This is a huge loss. A great

This is a huge loss. A great mind, spirit and beautiful woman. She will be missed.

Ricardo Gomes wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

What a tragic and sudden loss

What a tragic and sudden loss of such a magnanimous and conscientious Creative Soul & Spirit! - Mon Dieu!

I was just looking at an online video of the "NEW & Improved" name of the Citizen Research Design firm and thought "How clever and conscientiously appropriate of Sylvia to coin the name her design firm this name!" I had sent the link of this video to my DAI/SFSU design faculty colleagues to share with their students.

The last time I saw Sylvia was when she did a lecture presentation at CCA in San Francisco on her firm's work, the infamous Ballot design project and related socially-conscious professional and student work. VERY Inspiring and forever Memorable evening with Sylvia - She will be greatly missed, always remembered and forever revered!

Ricardo Gomes
Design and Industry Department Chair
San Francisco State University

Henry A Hayes, Jr. Charles City Co, Va wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

I have never met Sylvia, but

I have never met Sylvia, but I was so very heartbroken to read of her untimely passing. The article in the RTD was well written and described a Strong Black Woman who posessed a great vision as well as incredible talent and vision. My heart goes out to her circle of family, friends and associates. You have my deepest sympathy.

Anonymous wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

To close friends and family:

To close friends and family: be strong and continue your paths feeling lucky and strong that you got to interact with such a beautiful mind.

DK Holland wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

How many ways did I know

How many ways did I know Sylvia? Too many to even count, going back too many years. One way was as a neighbor for we lived but blocks apart in Brooklyn. I had just finished watching a video she posted on Citizen Research and Design.

My thought was, 'My God, you are telling the whole world how to do what you do. Now that's a truly generous act!' But that summed up Sylvia. I sent her a message saying how proud it made me to know her. And that we should soon have lunch together on Vanderbilt Ave (in the hood). I am so shocked, saddened and dismayed. We've lost a true citizen designer and a lovely woman. RIP Sylvia. God bless.

Anonymous wrote 8 years 37 weeks ago

She was an inspiration and

She was an inspiration and will continue to be.