Design Greats

I would have to say I do feel that my own bias is very American oriented. I consider myself to be an Americanist overall. It’s what I studied back in school, and I continue to be obsessed with mid-century American industrial designers and post-war American woodworkers – what we call the studio furniture makers or the craftsmen. And yet at the same time in today’s climate, there are very few American designers who have really achieved international renown. It’s very much shifted to Europe, but also to Japan and Brazil, and pretty much everywhere other than America in terms of design; as opposed to architecture which is an entirely different story in terms of who has achieved fame and prominence. To me my big heroes chronologically going . . . speaking, … Oliver … Paul … but also amongst Americans Russel Wright; Isamu Noguchi, who is both an artist and a furniture designer – the perfect hybrid, which is what I’m really all bout when it comes to the marketing of these designers. I’m a huge admirer of Jasper Morrison. I absolutely love the entire school of designers coming out of the Netherlands today. There are really almost too many to count at this point. And every year it seems as though four or five great designers are being launched from the Netherlands at a gallery like … here in New York. I also love Hans Wegner who just passed away last year. I think he’s one of the great chair designers of the 20th century – almost so perfectly anonymous I think sometimes almost half of America doesn’t even realize that they are sitting on a Hans Wegner chair. And he was so modest that he didn’t name any of his chairs as well, which I think has made it more difficult for people today to know what to call what he did; as opposed to some of the other designers which are just colorful, colorful names. Most of the great architects of the 20th century have dabbled in design and have created master works. And so you can’t have a conversation without mentioning … architects who did furniture. I love what Frank Lloyd Wright did, but I do not like his furniture. I find it inherently gloomy and uncomfortable.

Recorded on: 1/30/08




Zemaitis loves Frank Lloyd Wright and other 20th-century American designers.

Live on Thursday: Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Want students to cheat less? Science says treat them justly

Students who think the world is just cheat less, but they need to experience justice to feel that way.

Credit: Roman Pelesh/Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • Students in German and Turkish universities who believed the world is just cheated less than their pessimistic peers.
  • The tendency to think the world is just is related to the occurence of experiences of justice.
  • The findings may prove useful in helping students adjust to college life.
Keep reading Show less

A key COVID-19 immune response in children has been identified

This could change how researchers approach vaccine development.

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
  • The reason children suffer less from the novel coronavirus has remained mysterious.
  • Researchers identified a cytokine, IL-17A, which appears to protect children from the ravages of COVID-19.
  • This cytokine response could change how researchers approach vaccine development.
Keep reading Show less

A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Paitoon Pornsuksomboon/Shutterstock/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Study calls out the genes that make cancer cells so hard to kill

    Researchers from the University of Toronto published a new map of cancer cells' genetic defenses against treatment.

    Credit: CI Photos/Shutterstock
    Surprising Science
  • Developing immunotherapies for cancers is made more difficult by how different tumors are from each other.
  • Some cancers are actually made worse by immunotherapy.
  • A piece falls into place on the complicated puzzle of genetic interactions of cancer cells.
  • Keep reading Show less