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Cipe Pineles

‘Couldn’t they find one token woman for this?’

It seems strange to me that Cipe Pineles needs to be reintroduced to a young generation of designers. When I began designing she was already legendary for her work with Alliance Graphique Internationale. She was married to Bill Golden, creative director for CBS who designed the CBS eye, and then to Will Burton, the American Modernist.

I met Cipe in the early 80’s when she left the magazine business and was teaching at Parsons where she was also their promotion and publications director. I wrote a snide article about the design of Condé Nast magazines which appeared in the AIGA journal. In the early 80’s, Condé Nast magazines were designed in a scrapbook style, utilizing a lot of ripped images overlaying other images topped with ugly typefaces surprinting or dropping out the of mess. My article was entitled, “The Mystery of Condé Nasty.”

Cipe read it and thought it was very funny (and true). She found out who I was, called me up and invited me to dinner at her apartment. I went. She made me a hamburger in her kitchen.

Cipe and I were 40 years apart. She was a legend and I was a young designer, but I felt no age or status difference. First, we laughed at the type at Condé Nast and then we laughed at our shared state of being women designers in New York. She showed me a mailer she had just received from the Art Directors Club for a series of lectures entitled, “An Evening with One of the Best.” There were about 12 men in the picture, who were each giving a lecture at the Club. I remember Lou Dorfsman and Henry Wolf were in the picture, but I don’t remember the rest and I doubt I would recognize them now or know what they designed.

Cipe said, “Couldn’t they even find one token woman for this? Even one who isn’t very good? Just one to keep up appearances?” We couldn’t decide which was worse; the group arrogance, or the laziness. It’s 40 years later and I am the age Cipe was when we first met, and, really, not all that much has changed.

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