Educator, graphic and furniture designer. Friedman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1945. He received a BFA from Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburg, PA. Friedman went on to study graphic design at Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Ulm, and studied with Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart at Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, Basel.
He returned to America in 1969 and began his career as graphic designer for large corporations. He worked with the firm Anspach Grossman Portugal as a senior designer from 1975 to 1977. Friedman contributed significantly to what came to be known as “post-modern” or “new wave” typography in the in the 1970s. He taught graphic design at Yale University, 1970-73. He became Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Board of Study in Design at the State University of New York at Purchase, 1972-1975. Friedman designed catalogs and brochures for both universities.
Friedman worked with Pentagram in New York City from 1979 to 1984. He designed corporate identity programs, posters publications, packaging, letterheads, and logos, for clients such as Citibank and Williwear. Friedman was a long-time friend of artist Keith Haring, and designed the book, “Keith Haring”, 1982. He was the author of “Dan Friedman: Radical modernism“, 1994, and co-authored with Jeffrey Deitch, “Cultural Geometry”, 1988, and “Post Human”, 1992. He also designed furniture, lighting, screens, wall elements, and interiors. Many of his furniture designs were done especially for Galerie Noetu in Paris. Among his best known furniture designs are the 1989 Virgin Screen, 1989 Zoid sofa and chair, and the Three Mile Island lamps. Friedman served as the Frank Stanton Professor of Graphic Design at The Cooper Union in New York City, from 1994 until his death in 1995.
“Dan was one of the people who created what is known as the new typography in the United States, which he helped reinvent by mixing typefaces, setting type at angles and using asymmetry in his design,” said Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design in Manhattan.
This lavishly illustrated and provocative book on design and society is Friedman’s meditation on behalf of “radical modernism,” a term he coins to avoid the philosophical constraints of orthodox modernism and the jargon and anarchy of post-modernism. A key figure in the current debate over style and meaning in modern design, Friedman provides inspiration and encouragement to those who are still open to risk, experimentation, and optimism. To illustrate his ideas, he draws on both media images and a wide array of his own work – including his experimental furniture, sculpture, posters, logos, books, installations, typographic lessons, and his apartment, which has been called a living museum.
Friedman argues that design is in crisis, searching for a new sense of balance and vision in a period of historic transformation. Throughout the book he emphasizes the responsibility of designers to avoid overspecialization and to see their work as an important creative aspect of a larger cultural context. He also discusses the impact of digital technology on visual art education; the relationship between theory and practice; and the ways in which appropriation, simulation, reuse, and eclecticism challenge out notions of originality, beauty, and authenticity. His interpretation of modernism gives new relevance to ritual, fantasy, diversity, spirituality, humanism, and ecology. Essays by experts from the cutting edge of art, design, and architecture add insights to both the philosophy behind Friedman’s work and the critical response to it.