Friday Five with Susan Kare

I can guarantee you’ve seen the work of graphic designer Susan Kare as she’s pretty much the icon of icons. The San Francisco-based pioneer has designed thousands of memorable icons for some of the largest companies in the world. She began in 1983 at Apple, Inc. as the screen graphics and digital font designer for the original Macintosh computer where she created notable, and highly recognizable graphics, like the Happy Mac, the bomb, the font suitcase, and the watch, along with the Geneva, Monaco, Chicago, and New York typefaces, to name a few. Her signature minimalist style is what continues to drive brands to her for a design-focused logo or icon. Take some time to scan through her portfolio, as it’s quite mind-blowing just what kind of influence she’s had on branding over the last 30+ years. For this week’s Friday Five, we’re thrilled to welcome Susan Kare’s five picks of things she enjoys the most.


1. Surfing with my family
Surfing the California coast with my three sons brings me great joy. I love boards made by Johnny Rice, a legendary shaper who passed away about a year ago. I have wonderful memories of sitting at the picnic table in Johnny Rice’s Santa Cruz yard, trying to choose from among all the fabrics that he and his wife collected. My “turtle board” was the first where I had a hand in the design.

Photo by John Chiles

Photo by John Chiles

2. Pepper, our Australian Shepherd, who is an outstanding athlete and the most beautiful family member. She’s so communicative that it’s hard to believe she never says a word.


3. San Francisco
I’ve lived in San Francisco since 1978 and my affection for the city never diminishes. There are so many natural wonders and sources of inspiration and quirkiness, including Green Apple Books, Satin Moon Fabrics, Cha-Ya vegetarian sushi, Poco Dolce chocolate, Andy Goldsworthy’s tree trunk sculptures in the Presidio, and Ocean Beach.


4. Bi-Rite Market
A highlight of my day is a stop at Bi-Rite, a neighborhood hipster grocery store, on my way home from Pinterest. I go for the fruit, flowers, friendliness and inspiration to cook dinner and make cocktails.


5. Paul Rand books
I’m a huge fan of Paul Rand’s work and how he solved graphic design and illustration challenges with simplicity, intelligence, and playfulness. He was also a terrific writer. Frequently, I leaf through his books and try to take advantage of his advice (e.g.“Don’t try to be original; just try to be good.” ) and get inspired by his palettes and type choices. My favorite is A Designer’s Art, which he inscribed.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.