These days, it's a bit of all three. But it's also starting to look a lot like a business fad: Declare you're a design-centric organization and—voila!—you're the next Apple. We know it isn't that simple. So here's our annual roundup of the creative businesspeople dialing in to the power of design. The final cut: the CEO who rescued Puma, the architect who imagined Google 's stunning new offices, the graphic artist behind some of America's best-known brands, and the product designer who predicts our appetites—and satisfies them. You'll also meet five talents on the fast track to bigger things, hear sage advice on what design can (and can't) do for your bottom line, and get an eyeful of some amazing examples of the craft. Tool. Obsession. You get the idea.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2006 issue of Fast Company