• 08.12.09

Who Are the Real Celebrities in Design?

Hero worship certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, but in the context of design, it’s a growing influencer that merits deeper discussion.

Most of us can picture this Time cover from 1949
featuring Raymond Loewy. It was probably the first time a designer–in this case, an industrial-design renaissance man who sculpted the shapes of everything from Studebakers to Coke bottles–received such
significant and mainstream media attention. But can anyone really remember what came
after that?

raymond loewy

We unquestionably live in a culture that delights in the success and celebritization of modern day heroes/personalities–those special people endowed with swashbuckling abandon that we can bet our dreams on, that can lead us without fear into the unknown. This adoration is evident in every aspect of our culture (entertainment, education, sport, politics, business, etc.) and design has proven in no way exempt from society’s growing desire to measure success via status. Add to that that we’re in a period of extreme uncertainty, it makes sense that we’d search out pathfinders to pave the way forward, but at what cost?

The work of these pathfinders is often laudable, but by choosing to fixate on their popularity we miss a valuable opportunity to fully inform consumers. Communicating and celebrating the complexities of design and the design process would go a long way in creating a shared knowledge that could help build the type of educated consumer the world really needs, especially now.


Let me be clear, my argument here isn’t so much against celebrity as it is for much needed balance; providing that balanced coverage will better educate consumers–raising the bar for our work, and as a consequence, the long-term impact of our contribution.

Who are other unsung heroes in the world of design?

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As the President and CEO of Teague,
John Barratt is responsible for positioning the company for future
success and building upon Teague’s rich heritage. During his three
years in this position, Barratt has guided Teague in building and
strengthening partnerships with some of the world’s leading brands. The
result of these collaborative partnerships is design work that has been
recognized with a growing roster of international design awards.