8 Of The Great Design Innovators Reshaping Our Planet

The greatest of minds who have and currently are shaping our cities all have one thing in common. No matter what their differing discipline they all find ways through innovation to connect and engage society. This is inherently what makes great cities, architecture and design.

Everybody from urban planners, to architects, to fashion designers and creative types alike are constantly seeking innovative inspiration. The reason being that understanding people, designing accordingly and in turn improving life is an incredibly powerful process. It’s also an addictive one that often sparks curiosity. Despite the difference in industry, one creative will always be interested in how another creative has solved a problem.

In less than a week, online media giant Netflix will be releasing a new series that delves exclusively into the legacies of eight of our greatest modern innovators. Whilst it’s sure to perk the ears of those who are creatively minded, we decided to give a brief introduction for anyone not currently familiar as these people may have impacted the way you live without you even knowing it.

1. Paula Scher

Discipline: Graphic Design

The Journey: Scher began her creative journey designing album covers for Atlantic and CBS records. She took her love for design and started her own company however within a few years took her talents to Pentagram. Throughout her career she has worked designing for the likes of the Metropolitan Opera, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Philharmonic, Coca-Cola and Citibank.

A Quote from Paula: “My work is play. And I play when I design. I even looked it up in the dictionary, to make sure that I actually do that, and the definition of “play,” number one, was “engaging in a childlike activity or endeavor,” and number two was “gambling.” And I realize I do both when I’m designing.”   

A film about Paula that will inspire you

 

2. Christoph Niemann

Discipline: Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Author

The Journey: Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author. Throughout his career he has built a strong body of work featuring on covers for the likes of The New York Times, WIRED, the Art Directors Club and the New Yorker. Some of Christoph’s most notable clients have been Google, LAMY and The Museum of Modern Art. He has also transitioned his talents into live performances for events such as the Venice Art Biennale and London Olympics; as well as sketching the New York City Marathon whilst running it. Christoph has also created The New Yorker’s first Augmented Reality cover and hand drawn 360 degree VR animation for the magazines US Open issue.

A Quote From Christoph: “Ultimately, my whole approach to what I do is 95% effort and 5% talent. I really see it as a sport. You probably won’t become a tennis player if you don’t stand on the court for six hours a day and whack balls over the net. And if you do that, you have to be incredibly untalented for it not to work. But I think it’s tempting to think as a creative professional, you sit there and you’re creative. So much of it is just doing it everyday for hours.”

A film about Christoph that will inspire you: 

3. Platon

Discipline: Photographer

The Journey: Platon first applied his trade as a photographer for Vogue in Britain. He was then headhunted to work for the late John F. Kennedy Jr. on his political magazine ‘George’. He has since worked for numerous large scale publications such as the New York Times, Esquire, GQ and Rolling Stone. However he’s made his biggest impact working with Time Magazine, producing over 20 covers. In 2007, he photographed Russian Premier Vladimir Putin for Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year cover. This image was awarded 1st prize at the World Press Photo Contest.

A Quote From Platon: “My father is an architect, so I often think like a designer or an architect. I remember when I was admiring buildings, I would look up at them and see this perspective and this awesome power of the monument in front of me.”

A film about Platon that will inspire you:

4. Tinker Hatfield

Discipline: Industrial Designer

The Journey: Tinker Hatfield has long been established as one of the greatest industrial designers of the modern era. He attended the University of Oregon on a sporting scholarship, as an all-American athlete playing football, basketball and competing in track and field, whilst studying architecture. After suffering a career ending injury he decided to focus solely on his academics. Shortly after graduating Tinker obtained his architectural license yet didn’t know how he wanted to use it. In 1981 an ex coach from his time at university, Bill Bowerman (co-founder of Nike) recruited him to design storefronts and office spaces. Within five years he had started designing athletic sneakers and is most recognized for designing the Jordan range and the Nike Air Mag, the shoe featured in the Back To The Future films.  

A Quote From Tinker:When you sit down to design something, it can be anything, a car, a toaster, a house, a tall building or a shoe, what you draw or what you design is really a culmination of everything that you’ve seen and done in your life previous to that point.”

A film about Tinker that will inspire you:

5. Ralph Gilles

Discipline: Automotive Designer

The Journey: Ralph Gilles is a native New Yorker who has applied a background in industrial design towards his passion for powerful machines. He began drawing concept vehicles at the age of eight. When he was 14 an aunt sent his sketches to the then Chrysler Chairman Lee Lacocca. A reply came from Chrysler’s Design Chief K. Neil Walling suggesting Gilles attend design school. Giles went on to became the president and CEO of Chrysler’s SRT brand and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler.

A Quote From Ralph: “The Charger’s eyes are definitely its greatest assets. The headlights seem to make eye contact the same way people do on the street. A mean face is what we’re going for.”

A film about Ralph that will inspire you:

6. Bjarke Ingels

Discipline: Architect

The Journey: Danish architect Bjarke Ingels started his career working at OMA with Rem Koolhaas before starting his own firm ‘BIG’ in 2005. BIG is widely known for being one of the world’s most advanced studios. Ingels is regarded highly for his consideration towards society, economics and ecology. He has worked on numerous projects all around the world sharing a vision and interest in innovative theories about contemporary society and lifestyles.  

A Quote From Bjarke:In the big picture, architecture is the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings fit with the way we want to live our lives.”

A film about Bjarke that will inspire you:

7. Ilse Crawford

Discipline: Interior Designer

The Journey: Ilse Crawford is a designer, academic and creative director with a simple mission to put human needs and desires at the center of all that she does. Ilse strives to create environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them. She also designs furniture and products that support and enhance human behavior and actions in everyday life.

A Quote From Ilse: “Art is not just for weekends.”

A film about Ilse that will inspire you:

8. Es Devlin

Discipline: Stage Designer

The Journey: Es Devlin is a stage designer. She creates kinetic sculptures meshed with light and film for opera, dance, film, theater, runway shows and concerts. Her first works were for small fringe theaters in London including the Bush and the Gate. Her canvas has expanded over the past two decades – through the National Theater, Sadlers Wells, Royal Opera House, La Scala, and onto the O2 Arena, Wembley Stadium, and the Olympic Stadiums in London and Rio. She has created stage sets in collaboration with Beyoncé, Kanye West, U2, Jay Z, Adele and The Weeknd. She designed the London Olympic Closing Ceremony and the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony and continues to work in theatre at all scales – most recently ‘Hamlet’ with Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican and ‘Faith Healer’ at the Donmar Warehouse.

A Quote From Es: “Good ideas are not enough on their own. If you don’t have a strong work ethic, you won’t make it. You need persistence to see a project through from first sketch to final performance, and you need tenacity to protect that idea from becoming diluted along the way. Flexibility is important when developing a concept but once you know you’ve got something good, fight your corner.”

A film about Es that will inspire you: