The element of design is everywhere. Whether we actually realise it, or take a timeout to really scrutinise the objects around us, it exists as an exciting tale to be discovered and appreciated.
Shapes, colours and textures all define creativity, but it is the vision of the designers that really can add impact. The chairs we sit on have their own stories, as much as the set of speakers that offer us an immersive musical experience.
Here’s a list of product designers that you should know of.
Charles And Ray Eames
When it comes to the design world, there is probably no name more recognised than Charles and Ray Eames. The married couple has been dubbed the “20th century’s most influential” – and for good measure.
Despite having passed on more than 30 years ago, the two are still remembered. The Eames chairs for example, are still widely sought after today, and continually referenced by modern designers.
The first model was introduced in 1950, created for a competition by the Museum Of Modern Art. It apparently provided an answer to the limited financial and material resources available after World War II.
In its earliest form, the chair was moulded plastic on an aluminum base, upholstered with fabric cushions. Eventually, it expanded to offer a variety of finishes, bases and upholstery options.
In its later years, the design took the form of a lounge and ottoman matchup. Instead of sparse austerity, it then began representing a warm, more inviting aesthetic – plywood bent and shaped, upholstered in leather.
Charles was born in 1907. He married his college sweetheart and had a daughter before later meeting Ray (born Bernice Kaiser). Taking her as his wife in 1941, they then began working together and built their name in design.
It was said that their furniture were pleasing and accessible, of which appealed to the younger professionals and not just the creative types. While Charles brought to life modern designs, it was Ray who gave them a touch of finesse.
Their legacy is beyond enduring, as the Eames lounge chair and ottoman can still fetch a tidy price today. Costing anything from US$5,000 upwards, it has been in high demand and continuous production for decades.
In terms of creativity, Philippe Starck has never limited himself. His various designs so far, include everything from interior design to everyday household objects, and boats to even watches.
It has been said that his dedication to the idea of “democratic design” led him creating mass-produced consumer products rather than singular bespoke pieces. He prefers to instead improve lives by adding an element of humour and surprise to everyday objects.
“My concept of democratic design is based on the following idea: to give quality pieces at accessible prices to the largest number of people. To lower the price while increasing the quality,” Starck stated in a past interview.
The man may be more remembered for creating a vacuum cleaner that made dust bags obsolete, but he has also come up with several other ground-breaking inventions in the years after.
Apart from the cyclonic bag-less vacuum cleaners, James Dyson invented technologies such as the Ballbarrow concept that them more manoeuvrable. In 2006, he launched the Dyson Airblade which was a hand dryer for public washrooms.
In 2009, Dyson presented the Air Multiplier technology, which was the first real innovation in fans in more than 125 years. He introduced a dryer in 2016, and just last year, a styler – both using jets of air to tame and mould hair.
If you are a gamer, you should probably know this name: Kenichiro Ashida. He is the one behind the GameCube and Wii video game consoles, and in a wider picture, the introduction of motion-control gaming.
Before his creations, users of a game console were limited to the assigned movements of a character on screen. Press a button on a controller and you get the corresponded action on screen.
Ashida broke that limited frame, and thus making games more interactive. Motion-control gaming however, tracks movement. This adds a whole new level of depth and immersion to the entertainment value.
Revered for being a sophisticated minimalist, Michael Young’s works give new meaning to the idea of elegant, pared-down aesthetic. He is respected for having pushed the boundaries of experimental design as well.
Take for instance, the LSX compact two-speaker wireless music system thought up by Young in collaboration with KEF. It offers both convenience and connectivity, but with a seamless aesthetic.
Well, the man has a firm belief of freedom. As he succinctly puts it: “It is design as industrial art that interests me, not just as a limited edition, but on a scale of mass production.”
Cover Image: Michael Young
Writer | PY Cheong
PY Cheong has plied the trade of words long enough to recognise the difference between writing and storytelling. He believes in always dressing up his prose. He lives and breathes the work he does