• U.S.

From Good to Great

2 minute read
Kate Betts

The English Craftsman William Morris, in an 1880 lecture titled “The Beauty of Life,” said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Even though the design world has come a long way since Morris’ treatises governed the Arts and Crafts movement, his golden rule is as useful today as it was in the 19th century as a tool for singling out great design. In this special supplement to TIME, we endeavor to identify what we call the Design 100, the people and ideas behind today’s most influential design. Or, more specifically, the designers and impresarios who are creating useful and beautiful products, furniture, objects, buildings, houses, fabrics, even kitchen utensils. Of course, it’s never easy to whittle down a list when there is so much talent in the global market. It’s a matter of differentiating between good and great design. Morris had it right: great design is that magical confluence of beauty and function. But there’s another almost intangible element, which is the emotion an object or a building or a teapot can evoke in an individual (in today’s market that feeling, ideally, is desire). Think of the stylish plasticity of the iPod, or the silly humor of Michael Graves’ now famous Alessi teakettle, or the nostalgia of a surfboard-shaped Marc Newson aluminum table. Great design is both astonishing and pedestrian. It can be shockingly fashionable and downright useful. These days, design touches almost every part of our lives, thanks to mass-market manufacturers and retailers.

Personally, what I love about great design is not just the intersection of practicality and beauty but also the way it transcends borders and ages. Just look at Bugaboo, the sleek-looking and fabulously popular Dutch stroller that has revolutionized the American market. Who says you can’t start young when it comes to great design?

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