If there’s anything more satisfying than knowing that you are on-trend, it is surely the awareness that you got there ahead of the rest.
We have to admit to a feeling of smugness on the Design Week team when we saw a couple of our Hot 50 choices – Berg London and Participle founder Hilary Cottam – being cited as ‘hot tips’ for the future in this month’s Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine http://bit.ly/hB3hRQ.
Chosen by no lesser figures than International Herald Tribune design critic Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli, senior design curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Berg and Cottam were joined by London-based German designer Julia Lohman and interaction designer Daisy Ginsberg, a graduate of the Royal College of Art’s Design Interaction course, among others from across the globe.
Organisers of South Africa’s Design Indaba conference will feel equally smug to see software pioneer Processing’s Ben Fry who spoke at this year’s event up there, along with his partner Casey Reas.
Rawsthorn and Antonelli were charged by Rolling Stone with compiling a list of 20 designers who will influence design in the next decade. Standard stuff, you might think, but what makes the list particularly interesting is the eclectic mix of global greats assembled there.
Where once you would have expected the Italian market to appreciate architects and furniture and lifestyle product designers almost to the exclusion of anyone else, now we have ‘digital anthropologist’ Jonathan Harris, prosthetics specialist Hugh Herr of the seminal MIT Media Lab and Chinese graphic designer Liu Zhizhi up there.
Of course, there had to be an Italian team on there to balance the Dutch avant-gardists selected by Rawsthorn and Antonelli. That honour falls to Studio Forma Fantasma, whose product design is, we are told, beautiful, but politically motivated – in true Italian style.
The UK design set might be amused by the inclusion of Cottam – not a designer per se, but a social activist and service design pioneer. Cottam made it into the Design Week Hot 50 in 2007, after she left the Design Council where she headed the interventionist Red Unit. She really hit the headlines though in 2005 when she was named Designer of the Year by London’s Design Museum, causing furore among the more conservative elements of the creative community.
And the chairman of the panel that selected her? Well, it was Rawsthorn, of course – then director of the Design Museum during a highly controversial tenure that ended in tears following major disagreements with members of the museum’s board of trustees. It’s great to see she still stands by her choice.