Graphic designer Lawrence Azerrad, a native of Los Angeles, grew up drawing pictures and fighting the inferiority complex that comes with being a “normal” in the city of stars. Since then he’s designed iconic album covers like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, won a Grammy for the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition box set, and authored & designed a book, Supersonic, about the fabulous style of Concorde. Turns out having his head in the clouds, playing amongst the stars, is right where he belongs.
Architect and founding partner of experimental design studio The Principals, Drew Seskunas grew up surfing, getting arrested for skateboarding and navigating the social divide between jocks and artists. In high school, a documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright piqued his interest and set him on course to architecture school. Within a decade, he was building a large public project in Berlin while struggling to argue in German. Now, he’s creating interactive and mind-bending environments that shift perspectives.
Designer, artist, author & influencer Justina Blakeney spent her youth teaching art to abused/neglected teenage girls at a residential treatment program run by her parents, where she witnessed the healing power of art & kindness. After formative years in Switzerland and Italy, she settled in Los Angeles and harnessed the Internet to build Jungalow, an immensely popular lifestyle brand inspired by her travels & her multicultural background, fueled by a deep belief in the empowering magic of art and kindness.
Artist and designer, Chris Schanck, moved upwards of 22 times in his youth. He credits Uncle Rocco with firing up his creative engine at an early age, and an arts magnet school in adolescence with “saving his life.” That’s not an overstatement. Fast forward a few years and he’s developed a distinct visual language, has a solo show at a prestigious gallery under his belt, and critically successful body of work. Now, he’s built a life and studio in Detroit, where he is attempting to put down some roots.
Ingrid LaFleur is an artist, curator, pleasure activist, cannabis advocate and founder of Afrotopia, a creative platform that looks for ways to implement afrofuturist principles. She is also a very emphatic and supportive native of Detroit. In fact, in 2017 she ran for Mayor and created a plan of action that included radical thought, innovative ideas and solid brilliant logic. She’s doing the work, gently and joyfully crafting a future of conscious co-liberators, decentralized power and decolonized minds.
We teamed up with COS for this Clever Extra to celebrate the exquisite art of Dorothea Rockburne. Courtney J. Martin, Chief Curator of Dia Art Foundation, elaborates on Rockburne’s conceptual approaches and techniques while offering us a view of her curatorial methods in mounting a long-term exhibition of her work. Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director for COS, reveals how her admiration for Rockburne’s work - the lines, textures and simplicity of materials, inspired the direction of the current collection.
Furniture designer Maximilian Eicke grew up being schlepped around the world to galleries and and antiques shops by his art dealer father. All that input served to make him feel at home anywhere in the world and yet, in a quasi-rebellious sort of way, instilled in him the desire to create something original. His childhood was both blessed by love and privilege and cursed by bullying and attempts to invalidate his creativity—a recipe for gratitude, perspective, and turbo drive to disprove the naysayers.
Architect Barbara Bestor’s childhood memories involve Brutalist architecture and purple carpeted stairs. She divided her youth between the East Coast, Germany and the Midwest, before venturing to Los Angeles, the land of sunshine and smog, to make her mark. Over twenty years later, her studio is responsible for some of the most culturally relevant workplaces, hospitality venues and experimental residences in the greater Los Angeles area. Now she’s thinking a lot about urban density and the 2028 Olympics.
Industrial designer Ti Chang is co-founder and creative director of Crave, a start-up dedicated to innovative and elevated sex toys. Originally from Taiwan, as a child Ti moved with her family to the U.S. and grew up feeling out of place in small-town Georgia. Loneliness had its upside though; less friends, more creative time! An independent thinker and brave warrior for female empowerment, she’s on a mission to eradicate shame and guilt, and believes all women should own their pleasure. Amen, sister!
We teamed up with Tarkett for this Clever Extra to take a deep dive into Neoculture - a term coined to describe the way diverse cultures are coming together as never before to create entirely new cultures with new values. Suzanne Tick, a product and textile designer, and Chris Stulpin, Chief Creative Officer for Tarkett have done extensive research into the attitudinal shifts and megatrends that inform Neoculture, how it impacts the future of the built world, and why it matters to the design community.
President and Creative Director of Bernhardt Design, Jerry Helling, grew up on a ranch in a remote town with 11 people in his graduating class before venturing to USC and a potential career in Hollywood. A personal epiphany combined with serendipity rerouted him into the furniture business, resulting in a long and distinguished career as a keen mentor of talent, a champion of originality, a risk-taking, needle-moving industry voice, and a major benefactor of international design. Plus, he’s really nice!
Fashion journalist and design retailer Rose Apodaca wears many professional hats. She spent her youth immersed in the lively Los Angeles music and skateboarding scenes, then became a journalist covering city politics, gang detail and street tribes. After a stint as the west coast bureau chief of Women’s Wear Daily, she started A+R, a design retail business, with her partner Andy. Along the way she’s owned a few bars, written a few books, adopted a child and lived every day with an enviably stylish gusto.
Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer of 3M, incubated a lifelong habit of design thinking in youth at the family kitchen table. After studying engineering and industrial design he embarked on a distinguished career at Philips where he evolved from designer to design leader. Now, as the first CDO of 3M, he’s a champion of collaborative creativity and spends his energy in the exciting and complex job of pushing the front edge of progress. Oh, and he’s a jazz guy—find out how that influences his leadership style.
Product designer and installation artist, Nika Zupanc, has always had a strong emotional reaction to furniture, both positive and negative. Born and raised in former Yugoslavia, she was attracted at a young age to books, cinema and art and that sense of drama and narrative shows up in her work. Her path to design is a pretty straight line; determined, focused and passionate, punctuated by a rebellious use of pink, and a fierce protectiveness of her creativity through time spent in nature and the gym.
Car designer Oliver Heilmer has known he wanted to go into auto design since he was a little kid fascinated by tractors on his grandmother’s farm. He grew up in Munich, Germany drawing machines and vehicles on any paper available, and then studied industrial and automobile design in school. Soon after graduation, he landed a job with BMW Group and has been there ever since. Now, as the head of MINI Design, he’s dedicated to designing for innovation and emotion. This is a long-term love affair, indeed.
Metalworker and designer Meyghan Hill tells Amy and Jaime how she opted to send herself to military boarding school and then stumbled into a modeling career before empowering herself after a bad break-up by learning to weld. She operates under the provocative and polarizing name of (wh)ORE HAüS Studios, and while it is a play on words, it is also a very powerful conversation-starter, which she then parlays into meaningful dialogue. This episode contains modeling and metal, yes, but no “blue steel” jokes.
Strategic designer Todd Bracher regales us with tales of a serendipitous ten-year journey, living, loving and learning through Europe, on the way to launching his namesake studio in Brooklyn. Plus, he walks us through what the hell “strategic design” even means, schools us on the concept of “irreducible complexity” and explains his creative approach which he refers to as “essentialism.” Early on, he showed up to a big pitch meeting way overdressed, and now he keeps a poet on standby.
Collector and high-design advocate, Lisa Roberts, reflects on a childhood spent in an architecturally significant home that discomfited her because it made her feel different from her peers, and also ignited her passion for design because it seeped into her very being. Now, having collected more than 400 “Antiques of the Future,” she uses her collection to educate, author books, and advocate for the game changing power of design. Not too shabby for ol’ Curtains Roberts, eh? Mr. Waffles approves. Meow!
Designer, illustrator and artist Timothy Goodman was labeled a “dead-end kid” in his youth until he did four years of hard labor with a mentor/father-figure in the home improvement industry, through which he found both discipline and a desire to study design. A degree and a few more mentors later he’s now known for his illustrations, viral social experiments, murals, books and even protests. Plus, he’s checking his white cis straight male privilege and championing inclusion in ways both meaningful and practical. Pretty rad.