Alice in Wonderland -- Designers and Design Firms -- Fantasy

I’m hoping people on Core 77 will join me in a discussion about designers and design firms that do work that’s creative and unconventional in its use of color and size and form and imagery.

I’m really not sure what the proper terms are to describe this type of design – although “Alice in Wonderland” and “fantasy” come to mind.

For example, in my opinion, Philippe Starck and Marc Newson incorporate some Alice in Wonderland or fantasy-type design into their work. I’m also a big fan of some of the things I saw at the Droog Design exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York a couple of years ago. Some of the sets in a few Stanley Kubrick films come to mind too (e.g., A Clockwork Orange).

I’m interested to know of other designers and design firms – some well-known, some not well-known – as well as whether or not what I’m trying to describe might fall into a particular design discipline.

Thanks in advance,

Are you looking to hire a firm with this skillset or are you hunting for something specific, like for a paper, or article?

This could very quickly turn into a big advertisement.

Thanks for asking about this – this is actually my first post on Core 77, so I’m not totally sure how these things go – what I need to declare up front, etc.

I’m definitely not looking to hire anyone, and I’m actually not doing a paper or an article either. I’m just interested in learning… and I want to ask for people’s help and guidance.

There’s a lot of great design work out there – but not all of it is in the vain I’m referring to.


That’s cool. I just wanted to make sure the question was framed quickly before you had everyone who owns, or works for a Design firm putting up their firm’s ad to you. Because, basically, every firm is capable of doing this kind of work. It is more whether or not the client is willing to take a chance on that kind of work.

I’m interested in who’s done (for lack of a better word) fantasy-type work historically, for whatever reason…

And, I guess separately, I’m now curious about which companies Core 77 people feel have this type of work done.

Syd Mead?

Syd’s generally in the “concept art” category - movies, games and such try that as a search.

the others you mentioned are more high-end interiors, hotels, bars maybe night clubs too…

While I’m now going to read about Syd – signed up for his newsletter – I’m more interested in people/firms that design products, services, experiences and environments.

Ok… well maybe look at Zaha Hadids interiors (she did a really interesting kitchen with Moritz Waldemeyer, have a look at his website;

Mmm… what about Luigi Colani? Memphis Design group (Ettore Sottsass etc)? Philips Design usually do quite a lot of concept work (Ambient Intelligence).

Thing is, it’s unusual for people to specialise in highly fantastical and conceptual design as there is essentially no income for it, but more usual for people to balance conceptual design work which is ‘futures’ based alongside fee-paying / commercial work.

Thanks for the reply, georgeous.

I think you’re right on… that people need to balance future-focused design that might or might not go into a product/service/experience/environment with work that can be commercialized now.

I’m not trained in industrial design or architecture, but I know it (not to sound overly simple) made me HAPPY to be in a 40’s or 50’s residential or commercial building when I lived in LA… and my brain’s always STIMULATED whenever I visit Moss ( now that I live in NYC.

And I’m not sure fantastic-type (I think we’re on the same page – is this the best adjective to use?) design will ever be for mass production.

I’m just curious about the designers or firms people on Core 77 think are particularly skilled at it, whenever those designers or firms get the chance.

So is it just a coincidence you used to live in LA and now NY, where ‘Moss’ have 2 addresses?

I don’t work for Moss – just to be clear – and I actually didn’t even know it had opened a store in LA.

I just like big cities… and I guess that store does too.

Alessi has a knack for whimsical design, and have actually capitalized on it, since they were the pioneers of quirky housewares (designed by big names).

Ron Arad also comes to mind, with his bookworm bookshelf and morphed proportions in his furniture.

but in my opinion, the master of fantastical design is Gaudi. Being among his buildings is like being in a fairytale.

Not a lot of this design makes it to the shelves for the “masses” since most companies are trying to make a buck and their target is bland, easily-digestible volume.

You could take a look at the Design and the Elastic Mind book/show that was on display at the MoMA. It’s full of conceptual and fantastical design. You could also check out the book Design Noir, The Secret Life of Electronic Objects. It’s also full of great conceptual ideas of products that serve no function other than to fuel debate and discussion.

They’re not necessarily design firms but there is some interesting stuff you can find in those books.

“Alice in Wonderland” and “fantasy”

Disney comes to mind first. Architecture is probably the most visible combination of both. Think of the buildings (can you call them buildings anymore?), like Bird’s Nest, Aquatic Center, and the CCTV ‘pants’ buildings in Beijing.
One designer (design firm) that links Disney, to Architecture, to Alessi, and Alice in Wonderland, is Michael Graves with his Swan and Dolphin Hotels in DisneyWorld, and his Alessi Tea kettle for the “Hatter’s” tea party!

ross lovegrove.

though i doubt the interweb is large enough to hold his ego.

/just sayin’


Dunne and Ruby may fit the bill.

Another of note should be Zaha Hadid.

Here’s a link to photos of what’s about to open in Central Park:

And the related web site of the Art Pavilion itself:

Also, separately, there’s a good article in the magzine in this past weekend’s edition of the Financial Times about Moroso…

I think a lot of these – – fit the bill…