Letterform Archive – morla
Archive Publication No. 2

Morla : Design

Morla : Design.

10×10×2¼ inches, 432 total pages (400 matte art + 32 vellum), CMYK with stochastic screening + 3 fluorescent inks + 1 metallic ink, 2 fluorescent bookmark ribbons, fluorescent page edging.

The regular edition features a debossed case wrapped in soft, sophisticated vegan leather.

The deluxe edition features an innovative vacuum-formed front cover fit over a vegan leather case, all protected by a debossed clamshell box.

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From powerhouse designer Jennifer Morla, this tome of award-winning graphics is a gorgeous and inspiring design resource—and an absolute marvel of print production.

Morla: Design is a dynamic and essential monograph spanning the 40-year career of one of our most celebrated contemporary designers. With a preface by Paula Scher and a foreword by Erik Spiekermann, this retrospective book shares 150+ projects in print, branding, packaging, web, and retail store design, as well as offers a glimpse into the creative process of this vital artist. Printed with fluorescent and metallic inks throughout and covered with an innovative vacuum-formed cover, Morla : Design is an art object in its own right.


Levi’s. Design Within Reach. Swatch. The New York Times. Williams-Sonoma. SFMOMA. Stanford University. Herman Miller. Nordstrom.

Look closely at some of the world’s most respected brands, and you’ll see the hand and vision of Jennifer Morla, a multidisciplinary designer known for her ability to inform and surprise via extraordinary print, branding, packaging, web, and retail store design. An AIGA Medalist and recipient of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian National Design Award, Morla is internationally celebrated for solutions that are cerebral yet spirited, eclectic yet tight, and for a sharp approach to storytelling that results in narratives—and designs—with real staying power.

Morla : Design is the first in-depth look at the career of Jennifer Morla, sharing the backstory behind some of her most well-known work for major brands and art institutions. Gathered in an innovative print package that is nothing short of astounding—featuring fluorescent and metallic inks throughout, a vegan leather case, two neon bookmark ribbons and colored page edging, two paper stocks (one matt art and one vellum with white ink), and a choice of an edition with a debossed cover or one with an embossed vacuum-form cover and a clamshell box—Morla : Design is an indispensable addition to any design library.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign brought this beautiful volume to life, you can now order it directly from Letterform Archive.

The Book

158 projects in branding, print, animation, packaging, furniture, and retail store design—plus examples of her fine art—give a generous overview of Morla's career.

16 Designisms printed in white ink on vellum punctuate the book, sharing Morla's guiding principles and providing teachable moments.

20 personal stories reveal the experiences, artists, and design influencers that helped shape Morla's unique perspective, as well as her thoughts on the differences between design and fine art, the value of the quick sketch, how she learned to embrace happy accidents, the importance of diversity in advertising, and much more. (You'll also hear all about that one time she commissioned work from Andy Warhol.)

26 features on type close the book, offering a graphic display of Morla’s favorite typefaces—and her thoughts on why they get it done every time.

Selected Spreads from the Book

All images are high res and zoomable. Click an image to enter fullscreen view, then pinch (on trackpad or mobile) or use browser zoom (on desktop).

The Cover

Fans of Morla have a choice between two distinct yet cleverly connected cover treatments: an embossed vacuum-form or a debossed vegan leather cover, both featuring the flip side of the same design. Titled "Mitosis," the cover pattern emulates the biological division of a single egg into two cells—an homage to Morla's two daughters, to whom the book is dedicated.

For the deluxe edition, Morla experimented with this pattern in three dimensions using vacuum-formed polycarbonate, raising its interlocking dots to ⅖ inch in height to create a sophisticated yet otherworldly effect.

Together, the two covers present an optical treat, as their surfaces can trick the eye and appear to invert.

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As a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, and community, Letterform Archive is proud to announce the donation of more than 100 books, posters, and branding pieces designed by Jennifer Morla. Housed in our collection of 40,000+ graphic design and typography samples gathered across the history of written language, Morla’s work makes for a wholly modern and exhilarating addition to our library.

Morla : Design is a commemoration of this generous gift. It is the followup to our wildly successful first book, W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design, which contributions from our community brought to life in November 2017.

Imaged with raking light and a 100-megapixel Phase One camera in our on-site photography studio, the original artwork in Morla : Design is of the highest possible reproduction quality. Thanks to stochastic printing, the book's images come across with near continuous tone and a greater range of color than that produced by conventional printing methods.

Praise for Morla : Design

From Paula Scher's preface: “There are designers who identify the culture of the period and adapt it to their own personal vision. They are the ones who transcend time but remain of the moment. There is no better example of this than Jennifer Morla, which this book clearly demonstrates.”

From Erik Spiekermann's foreword: “Great ideas beautifully visualized: that is Jennifer’s work in a nutshell. Her work displays an intellectual curiosity expressed in sensual, exciting type and images.”

From Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach: “I surmise that most designer monographs end up as anonymous bookshelf space holders. Maybe the lucky ones become reference books in studios and libraries. But Jennifer Morla’s book will also serve as formidable coffee table book. It is artful, elegant, provocative, lively, smart: quintessentially modern. You can open it up randomly to any page and find some compelling visual narrative or message. Morla’s work is impossible to reduce to a style or formula as it encompasses numerous media and industries. Both fashionable and classic, this book will have a great shelf life, wherever it ends up.”

From Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker & founder of the Webby Awards: “Jennifer Morla's creativity is bold and brilliant. Seeing the body of her work (so far) presented in such a stunning book is truly a gift to the senses.”

From Steven Heller, PRINT Magazine: “Jennifer Morla’s design is a joyful combination of raw improvisation and energetic discipline. For four decades she has embodied the California sense of chaotic frenzy and personal iconoclasm. It is hard to believe that Morla, who has been honored so many times, has not yet had a monograph. [...]Letterform Archive’s publication ofMorla : Design, [...] has pulled out all the well-deserved stops.”

From Deborah Bishop, San Francisco Chronicle: “[Morla : Design] is both a record of her award-studded career and a new creative endeavor, embracing the designer’s mantra of ‘surprise and inform.”

From Casha Doemland, The Dieline: “The book is [...] a treasure trove for font nerds.”

From Nicole Arnett Phillips, Typograph.her: “The book is crafted [...] with insightful design advice and visually arresting reproductions of her body of work to showcase the inventive boldness and eloquent wit that makes Morla’s design unique. [...].”

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Project Credits

Jennifer Morla (author and designer) established Morla Design as a multidisciplinary design firm encompassing identity, packaging, print, animation, retail, and trade environments when she was just 28 years old. With more than 300 awards of excellence, she has been recognized by virtually every organization in the field of visual communication. She is the recipient of design’s most honored accolades: The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian National Design Award and the AIGA Medal. Her work has been published extensively—most notably in Meggs’ History of Graphic Design—and has been acquired for the permanent collections of the MOMA, the SFMOMA, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Library of Congress. Morla is an elected member of Zurich-based Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), and she has served on the National Board of AIGA and acted as chair of SFMOMA’s Architecture and Design Forum. She taught senior-level design for more than 20 years at California College of the Arts.

Paula Scher (preface contributor) has been a partner in the New York office of Pentagram since 1991. She began her career as an art director in the 1970s, and her wide-ranging approach to typography quickly became highly influential. Paula is featured in “Abstract: The Art of Design,” the Netflix documentary series about leading figures in design and architecture.

Erik Spiekermann (foreword contributor) is an art historian, a printer, a type designer, an information architect, and an author. He founded MetaDesign in 1979 and FontShop in 1989. He was the Royal Designer for Industry Britain in 2007. He now runs p98a, an experimental letterpress workshop in Berlin

Rob Saunders (publisher) is a designer, teacher, and management consultant with a lifelong interest in the letter arts. Rob taught at The Museum School in Boston, then published graphic design and children’s books through the Alphabet Press, Picture Book Studio, and Rabbit Ears Books imprints. After 40 years of collecting graphic design and lettering, he founded Letterform Archive to make the collection available to students, designers, and admirers of the letter arts.

Lucie Parker (associate publisher) has nearly 15 years’ experience crafting best-selling books for the trade and gift markets. She specializes in producing custom, high-end, and design-driven titles, often in collaboration with museums and magazines.

Leslie Carol Roberts (editor) is an author, a writing coach, and a narrative dynamo who helps people write and edit bestselling books on complex and varied subjects—from the environment to aesthetics. Leslie also travels the world and writes books and essays about who and what she finds: The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica, and Here Is Where I Walk. Her writing has been published in hundreds of essays and articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals in the U.S. and abroad.

Kris Johnson (director/owner k r i s f i l m s) specializes in documentary-style productions with a twist. Her clients past and present include SFMOMA, Levi Strauss & Co., Stanford Graduate School of Business, Vanderbyl Design, Design Within Reach, Adobe, Flowers Vineyards & Winery, Treasury Wine Estates, UCSF, Sequoia Capital, and SF Ballet.

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