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Curator: Zoe Ryan

Call her the wild card (or the green card) in this U.S.–focused roundup, but London-born Zoë Ryan has graced our shores for the past 14 years and in the process has brought a sharp curatorial eye and a plethora of design objects to our galleries and museums.


Curator Zoë Ryan

Ryan’s pedigree includes stints with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Van Alen Institute, but since 2006 she’s been ensconced at the Art Institute of Chicago as the Neville Bryan Curator of Design. In addition to curating a pair of shows dedicated to the work of Konstantin Grcic and the design consultancy Graphic Thought Facility, Ryan is also hard at work building the Art Institute’s first collection of contemporary design.

“We’re actually working in reverse chronology to build the collection,” she says. “We’re collecting design from the last five years and then filling in as we find the precedents.”

That commitment to the Campanas over Corbu has stood Ryan in good stead in the contemporary scene, and her next show—–Hyperlinks, set to open December 11—–embraces the increasing overlap between the creation of spaces, products, signage, and buildings.

“Shows are never about a single work,” Ryan says. “They’re about the relationships between them all. I see the gallery less as an end point, and more as the point at which we, and the public, really start to explore.”

  • Young Guns Dwell graphic

    Young Designers

    Branching out and doing your own thing is a brave and bold move at any time and any age. That said, the 21 visionaries we profile here—–designers 
of interiors, graphics, architecture, exhibitions, furniture, landscapes, 
and communities both online and off—–are all younger than 40 and are building their careers in the United States during an economic recession. Their mediums range wildly, from high-end residential town houses 
to urban postindustrial landscapes, but what they all share are uncommon tenacity and highly personal approaches to blazing their own paths. We’ve found editors who reinvented themselves as unconventional bloggers when their magazine shuttered; community activists who are transforming foreclosed houses in Detroit into models of environmental sustainability; and designers who’ve built burgeoning furniture companies in their own backyards. Neither an exhaustive compendium nor an exclusive best-of list, this roundup is a sampling of rising stars whose work continues to catch our eyes and imaginations.

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