Marcel Wanders talked about the fairy tale that informed the design of the new Mondrian Hotel in Miami, and the fear he has to face down every time he begins a new project. John Maeda spoke of design's hidden return on investment—its impact on an organization's human resources.
Available in most units at Wanders's Mondrian, this all white bathroom with vanity mirror is luxurious. The large tub is fit for a king, and with only glass separating it from the bedroom—replete with floor-to-ceiling windows—bathing becomes a night of soaking and star gazing.
American industrial designers are the secret heroes of the marketplace, finessing products to make them easier to sell better. Here's how five top firms have been busy shaping our world. From Oxo's kitchen tools to the Slingbox, design labs like Whipsaw and Astro Studios are breathing new life into everyday objects.
The Dutch-born Li Edelkoort, 58, is the oracle behind Trend Union, the go-to source for trend forecasting for the fashion, beauty, retail, automotive, consumer-electronics, and interior-design industries. She counts Philips Electronics, Nissan and Donna Karan among her 1,500-plus international clients. "People think I am some mystic or gypsy," says Edelkoort. "What I really do is pay attention."
The inventor of Velcro ripped cockleburs from his dog's fur. Da Vinci and the Wright brothers studied birds in flight. And now a rising number of designers are looking to nature for inspiration. Companies as diverse as Boeing, Ford, General Electric, Herman Miller, HP, IBM, Kraft, Nike, and Patagonia are welcoming biologists to the design lab. Here's a sampling of Mother Nature at work.
L.A. and Long Beach invested $1 million in the first hybrid tugboat, due out this fall. Software on board decides how to deploy the two diesel engines, two generators, and 21,000 pounds of batteries. Tug maker Foss expects fuel savings of 30%.