Heads nor tails

Even if you've never heard of the Roswell-based design firm of Lorenc + Yoo, you have undoubtedly seen their work.

They have designed the graphic facade of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, the stone entrance markers for Ansley Park and the exterior marquees for North Point Mall and the Woodruff Arts Center.

Since its inception in 1978, the firm has been virtually unlimited in its scope, designing furniture, sculpture, corporate logos and trade show booths. Polish-born Lorenc and the Korean-born Chung Youl Yoo are the principals, and they operate their firm like some design world answer to the "Superfriends." Its staff incorporates various nationalities and sub-specialties from journalism to architecture to interior design.

The Art Institute of Atlanta exhibition Lorenc + Yoo Design: 25 Years surveys the firm's aesthetic, indebted to the geometric shapes, punchy colors and kooky look of Ettore Sottsass' iconically '80s Memphis designs. The style is definitively postmodern, with its roaming references to art deco and mid-century machine age design combined with the layered text and imagery of our own Internet age.

The work can be thoroughly sleek and direct, as in the signage for the Atlanta Symphony Hall lobby, or cartoon crazy, as the PeeWee's Playhouse-meets-Tokyo Pop design for the Donut King chain.

Lorenc + Yoo's range is impressive, even if you aren't a fan of their vibe. But the exhibition of their designs at the Art Institute often makes it difficult to appreciate the work. This is one show that screams out for more rather than less wall text to provide context for the often difficult to comprehend blue prints and drawings. For example, there is no background on the particular companies the firm has done design work for, which would give a deeper understanding of how their products have been incorporated into the design.

The exhibit's designers make it very difficult to find an entry point into the show. If you want a better understanding of the designers' approach and philosophies, you'll have to visit their website at www.lorencyoodesign.com. In this regard, Lorenc + Yoo is a frustrating exhibit for making you want to learn more, but giving you little direct means for doing so.

Lorenc + Yoo Design: 25 Years runs through Dec. 12 at the Art Institute of Atlanta, 6600 Peachtree Dunwoody Road. Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 770-394-8300. www.aia.artinstitutes.edu.