Cult-of-personality Designers

Very much in evidence at this year’s Milan Salone…

I’m talking about Karim Rashid, Ross Lovegrove, Jaime Hayon, Marcel Wanders, Studio job etc. (who else?)

Are they needed or just needy??

nice question… well don’t you think they are like movie star type designers ?

I had to introduce Ron Arad and be MC during his Q&A session, at a conference last year. I think he would definitely fit here.

this is not a new phenomenon.
it is more a natural part of the industry coming to the forefront of popuparity.

we may recall the 80’s when art stars were bigger than movie stars and now it is like “artists who”

Goes back to the founding of the profession. Loewy, Teague, Bell Geddes, The Eames’s, Dreyfus, Brooks Stevens… to Colani, Mendini, Giugiaro, Dieter Rams, Columbo… They were less glitzy maybe (except Loewy and Colani), but so was the rest of the world. :angry:

But the new breed all have a recognition (fashion)trademark - Ron Arad and his Hat(does he always wear the same one?), Lovegrove and his Mono Look. I was a big fan of Jaime Hayons designs- then I saw a pic of him…it somehow changed the way I looked at his work

just an opinion, but i don’t feel the personalities are needed and i feel like they are detrimental to my profession.

my area of expertise is furniture, and tho i may like some of the aforementioned designers style, i find their personas a turn-off. i remember when i worked at HM, there was a lovegrove design in the works (it didn’t really go anywhere). HM has a tremendous management structure in place that works well with outside contract designers. however, they have little tolerance of egos. i sat in a meeting where our department manager dressed mr. lovegrove and his ego down in such a professional manner that lovegrove wasn’t really sure of what had happened until the meeting concluded.

the designers i have the most respect for are those who are able to keep their egos in check, have a sense of humility and an impenetrable integrity.

I think it is bad for the profession in general. People start to think you get design from 5 superstars and you get CAD from other so-called “designers”. Personally, I’d like to adopt a new word for what I do. Maybe borrow the french and become a concepteur? Too geeky.

More on the phenomenon of big name designers though: I think Karim, Michael Graves and Phillipe Starck should be compared with Martha Stewart and Debbie Travis. These are just lifestyle gurus with name-recognition. Just look at most of their successes…they often are in the same department as Martha’s products.

Thats the ideal thing, however the early ones needed to be high profile as the proffession then was pretty much “new” and even more misunderstood. Now a high profile can add a lot to the bottom line as you are considerd safe by corp america (think ass coverage by the manager) so its not a bad buisness tactic. In some respects eveybody on the planet thinks (and can to a extent) design, its in our DNA but to provide the talking (bragging) point in the board room or during cocktail hour nothing quite equals “oh yes she/he was profiled in the new york times…etc” . If I was teaching younglings I would spend a fair bit of time on the realitys of this proffession and one of them is creating a image that is sellable and appealing to their target client list.

these designers are a necessary evil. its always been my opinion that in general these fellows are no better than most of the people i’ve worked with, they just talk more.

that’s fine.

i’ve always thought that most of the people that bad mouth people like Karim Rashid are just jelous of the attention he gets for talking so much. his work is quite shallow, but you have to admit he’s been good at getting people to put him on magazine covers.

i’ve always thought that the ying to that yang was the fact that most of the work i get to do has quite a bit more substance to it and the people i get to do it with are far more interesting (less self absorbed).

in my opinion it is impact that designers crave. i want to do something that changes something. I would say Karim’s impact is superficial… i’ll trade magazine covers for impact that is a bit more compelling any day of the week.

that said i do think that there are “super star” designers that are good at both being socially provocative and dynamically talented. they are just few and far between and generally work a bit harder than they talk. Just off the top of my head Scott Wilson, Kevin Young, and Martin Bone come to mind.