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Top Voices in Design Today

Creative minds give voice to the rhythms that breathe life into our daily routines, with color and cleverness, timeless and unique.
Creative minds give voice to the rhythms that breathe life into our daily routines, with color and cleverness, timeless and unique.

Good design transforms how we move through the world, and the creative minds behind these designs give voice to the rhythms and cadence that breathes life into our daily routines, with color, a cleverness, and forms both classic and contemporary, timeless and unique. While there are many designers who contribute to the ever-evolving landscape that defines what design is good and what design rouses our sensibilities to live lives that are more robust, luxurious, and in tune with our surroundings, there are but a handful of designers who we celebrate as being at the top of their field, with a prolific body of work and a reach that extends beyond household products and enters the realms of architecture, interiors, and industry with a finesse that speaks to the versatility and unmatched elegance of the best in contemporary design today, flooding our homes with pieces that incite wonder and caressing our minds with ideas both cutting-edge and enduring, abiding in substance with an aesthetic splendor that unites and inspires. Today we look at a few of these top designers, whose products and approach are shaping the world of good design at the present moment, inexhaustible in output, abundant in sophistication and resourcefulness, and teeming with versatility and beauty, rigorous in scope and enriched with the transcendent qualities of the mystical and the sublime.

Perhaps there is no designer as prolific and influential as the Milan and New York-based Piero Lissoni, whose work as a creative art director for a number of renown firms, including Boffi, Porro, B&B Italia, and Living Divani ensures his reach in the design world maintains a visual cohesiveness and sense of refined simplicity that reimagines sophisticated interiors across the globe, and whose groundbreaking products for celebrated brands like Glas Italia, Salvatori, Capellini, Cassina, Knoll, Kartell, Flos, Alessi and many more, have enriched the world with a stalwart ethos of good design that transforms lives with essential forms and effortless beauty of the minimal and profound. The last 30 years of his abounding productivity has produced classics like the Outdoor Collection for Knoll and the Met sofa for Cassina, whose embodiment of modern sophistication and unrivaled comfort makes it a true masterpiece of contemporary design. From new innovations like the graceful and elegant Hito bathroom collection for Salvatori to the jubilant Thierry tables for Kartell, whose distinctive character and inspired use of color adds joy and a refined cleverness to any environment they inhabit, Lissoni’s designs are united in a chic cleanliness of line and marked sensitivity to balanced proportions, emotive in their expression with an air of serenity and calm that arrives from well-considered design, versatile, resourceful, and above all, beautiful.

Likewise powerful in scope with a broad range of influence, merging architecture with product design, is the Spanish born architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, whose empathetic connection with users and daring manipulation of new technologies reveal unexpected connections between the familiar and unexplored, realizing spaces and objects foremost in their relation to the people that inhabit them, something she learned from her mentor, the legendary designer Achille Castiglioni. As Art Director for Cassina and a number of award-winning works for some of the most notable brands in the field, Urquiola has renovated hotels and offices across the globe and redefined interiors with colorful, friendly forms like the Antibody Lounge, whose triangular petals add a delicate and convivial texture to a classic chaise, and the MonCloud sofa, whose fabric upholstery envelopes its contours, creating a distinctive fold that enhances the beauty and fascination of its silhouette. Curious, thoughtful, colorful, and congenial, Urquiola has remained one of the most prevailing voices in contemporary design since the opening of her studio in 2001, shaping the landscape of contemporary design today with forms that are reassuring yet at times unexpected, a harmony of the minimal and the eccentric with a range of flavor that brightens living spaces with polished charm and sophisticated grace.  

Yet another designer whose reach in architecture, objects, and interiors has a profound effect on what defines good design today is Vincent Van Duysen, who emerged on the scene in the late 1980s and has since elevated spaces with a clean sense of the pure and the tactile for timeless designs that eschew trends and place the integrity of the user at the core of the physical experience he creates with space, light, and texture. Most recently, his collaboration with Molteni & C produced an outdoor collection that made waves for its sleek and classic soul, along with Octave, a system of modular sofas, with interesting, rigorous shapes, and the Gliss-Master wardrobes whose iconic finishes are enriched with a luxury of simplicity that inspires and excites. Regardless of the scope of his projects, whether crafting enduring kitchen accessories like the simple yet sophisticated Passe Partout or bringing his aptitude for the natural and the transcendent to develop wineries and beach clubs in Belgium and Portugal, Van Duysen makes that which is minimal enticing and warm, welcoming good design to daily lives with commanding poise and peaceful balance.  

Not all designers who mold our interiors with personality and prose focus on architecture and furniture, however. Some make their mark with illuminating space with lighting designs cloaked with charm, as with the whimsical and classical David Groppi, or the innovative and thought provoking Michael Anastassiades, whose reflective material appears to dematerialize objects and articulates architectural space with simple geometries and inspired design, or Omer Arbel, whose orbs of luminosity occupy a liminal space between architecture, sculpture, invention, and design, as with his iconic works for the Bocci brand. Others find their voice in the unification of design and art, like Jaime Hayon with pieces like the Reaction Poetique centerpieces inspired by the pictorial works of Le Corbusier, or with unusual, fantastical forms as with the Dino armchair whose edges jut out in a declaration of unique individuality and charisma or add a touch of the uncommon to the classic in the Fri for Fritz Hansen. Others add humor to design to make it a friendly contributor to an interior family, as Oki Sato of Nendo has done with his Softer Than Steel collection and his Drift for Glas Italia, whose diagonal penetration gives the impression that it is floating on water, while others penetrate the design landscape with product design that redefines elegance and usefulness, as with Tokujin Yoshioka’s O-Bold watch for Issay Miyake and his Celebration Cauldron Torch for the 2020 Olympics, crafed with the same attention to detail and mystical allure that has defined his pioneering pieces like the Honey Pop Chair, made of honeycomb paper, and the Element Table, which appears to defy gravity as it balances on a singular angled leg.

Of all the designers whose creations we invite in our homes with an openhearted embrace and a salute to that which is generous and indulging, what makes a creative mind great is the ability to connect with other’s emotions and captivate the senses with welcoming materials and harmonious forms. Today’s top designers do this with confidence and ease, making homes and public spaces across the globe monuments to the sophistication and unbridled character of the best available in contemporary design, enticing, extraordinary, and exclusive.  


March 2024