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Young Designers

Published as: 
Young Guns

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.

Young Guns Dwell graphic

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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.

     

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    Design Build: Made

    Brian Papa, Oliver Freundlich, and Ben Bischoff met their first year at the Yale School of Architecture, when they found themselves the most enthusiastic members of a student-led design-build project. Today, as principals of MADE, a Brooklyn-based architecture firm, they are elevating design-build to another level.

     

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    Activist Designers: Design 99

    Gina Reichert, an architectural designer, and her husband, artist Mitch Cope, are the duo behind Design 99, an organization in Detroit that creates everything from bathroom tile designs to neighborhood planning strategies. They set up shop—–quite literally as a shop—–in August 2007, offering design services for 99 cents a minute or $99 per house call. “We put design in a retail environment because people know how to enter a store and ask questions,” Reichert says. “A lot of people disregard design not because they’re uninterested but because they don’t think they have access to it.”

     

     

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    New Media: Sight Unseen

    Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov met as editors at the venerable I.D. in 2005 and both developed a passion for peeking behind the scenes at the creative processes of designers—–access that came with working for an established print publication. Just before the magazine folded in the wake of the great magazine shake-up in the latter aughts, they embraced the opportunity to cast aside the medium’s limitations—–space restrictions and long lead time—–while preserving its take-a-seat-and-stay-awhile sensibility.

     

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    Design Shop: The Future Perfect

    When David Alhadeff opened The Future Perfect in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2003, he made it his mission to showcase new and fresh design. Seven years and three retail outposts later, he’s still on the beat, championing undiscovered talent alongside now-established designers, some of whom, like Jason Miller and Lindsey Adelman, he’s fostered since the shop’s inception. “I’m always looking for what you haven’t seen before,” he says.

     

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    Furniture Design: Misewell

    Growing up in southeastern Wisconsin, Vincent and Paul Georgeson used to hang out in their father’s basement woodshop, fascinated by the process of building things. It was a formative experience: Both brothers went on to study industrial design in college, and in 2008 they started a Milwaukee-based furniture company. The next year they unveiled their first eight products at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, including the Lockwood chair, a shaped walnut or maple seat on a formed steel frame. They named the brand Misewell, a nod to Midwestern slang for “might as well”—–as in, “misewell start a furniture company,” says Paul, laughing.

     

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    Landscape Architecture: Marcel Wilson

    Landscape architect and urban designer Marcel Wilson describes his practice as “combining things that are made with things that are alive.” Hence the superhuman name of his firm, Bionic, which he defines as “merging organism and machine.”

     

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    Interior Design: Nicole Hollis

    To call interior designer Nicole Hollis’s portfolio “eclectic” is an understatement. On one page you’ll find a modern man-cave with a colorful LED-lit staircase and on the next, a rustic kitchen outfitted with copper pots and wicker baskets. Each project has its own merits, but Hollis’s greatest strength as a designer lies in her chameleonlike ability to channel her clients’ desires.

     

  • Project Projects is helmed by Rob Giampietro (on left), Adam Michaels (on right), and Prem Krishnamurthy (not pictured). Portrait by Adam Golfer.

    Graphic Design: Project Projects

    Manhattan-based Project Projects may be a graphic design studio, but it works in all dimensions, on the page and off. Founded by Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels in 2004, the firm designs everything from books and architectural signage to websites and museum exhibitions.

     

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    Industrial Design: Atelier Takagi

    After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 with a degree in furniture design, Jonah Takagi traveled the world for four years with indie-rock musician Benjy Ferree. When he had time at home in Washington, DC, he picked up side gigs crafting sets and props and tinkered with product one-offs at the studio in his house.

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    Social Networking: Architizer

    “The kernel of our idea was that there had to be a better way to speak to clients, to critics, and to the world at large. Too often we architects are just talking to each other.”   

     

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