In 2010, the design world celebrated the addition of Eddie Opara as a partner at Pentgram, the worlds largest design consulting firm. Spanning three countries across four offices, the company literally design everything. Even more impressive is that Opara is the only partner of African descent at the prestigious design company. Opara was born in London and studied graphic design at the London College of Printing, going on to get his MFA from Yale University.
Opara started his career at Art Technology Group (ATG), moving to Imaginary Forces, and eventually went on to head his own studio, The Map Office. His specialties are the design of brand identities, publications, exhibitions, user interfaces, environments, software, and installations. Opara employs many different types of media in his creations. Starting out more focused on print design, Opara learned web design, programming, and animation, expanding his breadth of work.
Since joining the legend-wait for it-dary, Pentagram, Opara was instrumental in making their website more accessible and showcasing the firm’s work. It uses a content management system, MIG, designed by Opara himself that is customizable. The system is intricate, allowing visitors to sort out projects by a number of parameters to get the results they desire. This is just one small example of how his creative genius affects everyday interactions.
One word many design publications have associated with Opara’s work is wizard. His manner of bringing mediums together to create multi-faceted readings in all of his projects. This is evident in one of MAP’s most well known projects, STEALTH, which was done for the Studio Museum of Harlem. The project had many layers, both cultural and visual. Shaped like a stealth bomber plane, the project makes reference to a line from Ralph Waldo Ellison’s, Invisible Man, alluding to the way African-Americans are treated in American society. At the same time, the aircraft it is based on is a paradox, expected to operate invisibly, but has such a well designed and eye capturing shape you want to watch it. Stealth is made out of paper, and can fold out to be a wall covering, but is viewed as an optical illusion. The text that wraps its surface is best read from far away, but becomes muddled up close, and once unfolded the patterns leads the eyes to believe the wall is moving. This one project shows the complex level of thought Opara pays to all his work.
His other work is just as impressive, so be sure to continue to check Pentagram’s website (content changes daily) to see Opara’s other magic. With the design field in an ever state of flux, only the future knows what Eddie Opara will do next.