“Play” can be understood as freedom of thought within the confines of a defined problem. The name of our studio proposes that effective design is best achieved by balancing structure and fluidity; logic with emotion.
Angie Wang is a designer and educator who specializes in typography and typographic systems. She is the Creative Director of Design is Play, the award-winning design and branding studio she founded with partner Mark Fox in 2007. Wang and Fox are co-authors of Symbols: A Handbook for Seeing, published by The Monacelli Press in 2016.
Design is Play is regularly recognized by Communication Arts, The Type Directors Club, Graphis, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and Print. In 2013, Design is Play was one of forty-four design firms interviewed for Steven Heller and Lita Talarico’s book Design Firms Open for Business. The studio is the subject of a feature article in the May/June 2015 issue of Communication Arts. More recently, Design is Play was nominated for one of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s 2017 National Design Awards—a nationwide awards program honoring excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement in American design.
Wang’s work has been exhibited at the Design Museum, London, and the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich. It is included in collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London; the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich; the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; the Poster Museum at Wilanów, Warsaw; the United States Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Her work is also represented in the collections of the Letterform Archive in San Francisco and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) in Los Angeles.
In 2014, Wang served as one of five jurors for Communication Arts’ Design Annual, an international competition of the best design created over the preceding year.
Wang is a Senior Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco where she has been teaching in the Graphic Design program since 2005. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley and California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC), and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
photography: Will Mosgrove
Mark Fox is a designer, educator, and author. He specializes in the design of trademarks, icon systems, and custom typography at Design is Play where he collaborates with Angie Wang. (Prior to his work with Wang, Fox designed under the studio name BlackDog for more than twenty years.) Fox and Wang are co-authors of Symbols: A Handbook for Seeing, published by The Monacelli Press in 2016. The following year, Design is Play was nominated for one of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s 2017 National Design Awards—a nationwide awards program honoring excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement in American design.
Known for creating arresting images with unusual concision, Fox has been described by Aaron Betsky, former Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as “a master at the specialized task of designing logos and symbols.” Betsky states further, “His designs have the impact of early twentieth-century propaganda, the aura of medieval myth, and the thought-provoking quality of a work of critical art.” Writing in Graphis, Ken Coupland notes Fox’s “talent for compressing the maximum amount of message into the minimum amount of acreage.” Regarding Fox’s winning entry in the 1993 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Beaux Arts Ball competition, juror Michael Manwaring proclaimed, “A short, sharp blast in a roomful of frippery.”
Fox’s work has been recognized nationally and internationally in the publications Affiche (The Netherlands), B.A.T. (France), Blueprint (England), Communication Arts (United States), Critique (United States), Graphis (Switzerland), Monthly Design (South Korea), and Novum (Germany).
His posters are included in collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London; the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich; the Poster Museum at Wilanów, Warsaw; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; the United States Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the Denver Art Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). A one-man show of his political posters—“BlackDogma: Selections from the Work of Mark Fox in the Permanent Collection of Architecture + Design”—was exhibited at SFMOMA in 1999. His work has also been acquired by the Letterform Archive in San Francisco and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) in Los Angeles.
In addition to co-authoring Symbols, Fox has written articles for Communication Arts, Critique, and 3X3, and he authored the introduction to The New American Logo, published by Madison Square Press in 1994. His analysis of corporate trademark design, “Logos=God,” was featured in Communication Arts in 1999. He periodically contributes book reviews to the site Designers and Books; “Ray Bradbury, Jaron Lanier, and ‘The Digital Flattening of Expression’” was posted in 2014.
He served as President of the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1995–1996, and on the board of the Architecture + Design Forum of SFMOMA from 1998–2000. In 1995 Fox chaired the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Design Lecture Series: “5ive Iconoclasts” featured Tibor Kalman, Vaughan Oliver, the Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, and Diller + Scofidio. In 2004, Fox was designated a Fellow of the San Francisco AIGA for personal and professional contributions to the San Francisco design community.
Fox is a Professor of Graphic Design at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco where he has taught since 1993. He served as Chair of Graphic Design at CCA on two occasions, from 2003–2007, and most recently from 2013–2014. He was awarded the CCA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004 by that year’s graduating class.
He earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1984, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
photography: Will Mosgrove