Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finding Jazz: The Internet Seeks Out a Lost Designer

This design is rather generic, and yet, it might feel oddly familiar to you.

Are you able to place it? If you're a child of the '90s (or even an adult), this pattern might look familiar to you, but you might not know why...
This is Jazz, a pattern designed for the Sweetheart Cup Company (later Solo cup and now Dart) by "Gina" in 1990. The design is the highest grossing design in company history and has become iconic for an entire generation.

The teal scribble strikes nostalgic for many, and a few weeks ago, in an effort to find out more about the cup's designer, an anonymous user turned to Reddit, asking the internet to help. "Perhaps the crowd-sourced brain of Reddit can help," he wrote.

The collective brain power of the internet turned up Gina (no last name), an employee of Sweetheart in the '80s/'90s in Springfield, Missouri. Mystery not yet fully solved, News-Leader's Thomas Gouney started searching... 

The search was extensive, but following a Twitter lead, Gouney eventually found and interviewed Gina Ekiss in Aurora, Missouri.
Gina's design was the winning entry in an internal design contest for a new stock design held in 1989. Without design parameters to go on, Gina designed Jazz to be mass-produced, and to maintain it's overall integrity if misrepresented slightly.

The design went on to become part of '90s culture, becoming beloved and reproduced on everything from clothing to nail art to car decals.  

The cups may have been disposable, but Gina's legacy seems to have lived on. You can read Gouney's full account and watch his interview with Gina on News-Leader.com. 

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