Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

New York, October 1, 2008 - A Dutch superstar, an unyielding architect, a Green diva, a style soothsayer, a digital visionary, and 71 perfect products share the spotlight as Fast Company names its Masters of Design for 2008. Highlights of the issue include:

On the cover: Secrets of a SuperDesigner, by Linda Tischler, page 106.
Dutch designer Marcel Wanders is expanding his empire to the United States - fabulously, of course. Wanders was a "slam dunk" choice to mastermind the new $200 million Mondrian in South Beach, says Mari Balestrazzi, VP of design for Morgans Hotel Group. "Marcel combines world-class design with a sense of theatricality and sense of humor," she says. "And he has the vision to create a whole world." The world he has created for himself is a multi-armed empire that includes Moooi, his mass-market home-and-office design company, deals with Puma, upscale-furniture company B&B Italia, and a new partners hip with Yoo, the $10 billion international real-estate-development firm of John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck, for which Wanders will design residential properties - in exchange for a percentage of sales. "For me it's very simple," Wanders says. "I want to create a body of work that is really, deeply important to people. One of the vehicles I use is business." He also uses his famous theatricality, once even stripping naked during a speech. "I push hard, and I never, ever give up," he says. "You know pit bulls? They're sissy boys." The entire article is available online at

Digital Meets Analog, by Linda Tischler, page 118.
What happens when a techie with a sense of humor and a gift for business takes over a venerable design institution? For John Maeda at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the answer is "a space Western." Linda Tischler profiles Maeda, formerly of MIT's famed Media Lab, whose hiring by RISD last December stunned the clubby academic design world. RISD, Tischler writes, "is gambling that a highly networked, Web-enabled thinker who also happens to be an artist, designer, and author - probably the closest thing to a Renaissance man the digital world has produced - can help reconcile the design world's competing impulses: creativity and pragmatism, uniqueness and mass-marketability." The entire article is available online at

The Diva of Green, by Anya Kamenetz, page 124.
Ideo's Valerie Casey is rallying the creative community to her version of a Kyoto Treaty for designers - and her peers are signing on in droves. Adopters of her Designers Accord pledge to reduce their organizations' carbon footprints, raise social and environmental impact with every client and every product, and - rare in a fiercely competitive industry - collaborate with one another. "Our goal isn't to create a thing," Casey tells Fast Company. "It's to re-create our mind-set." The entire article is available online at

Back to Nature: Truly Intelligent Design, by Kate Rockwood (with photographs by Jonathan Kantor), page 128.
The inventor of Velcro ripped cockleburs from his dog's fur. The Wright Brothers studied birds in flight. Now a rising number of designers are looking to nature to nurture their creativity. "It's about taking the genius of the natural world and learning from it," says Janine Benyus, who coined the term biomimicry in her 1997 book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. Tapping into 3.8 million years of R&D and some 10 million species for insight, companies as diverse as Boeing, Ford, General Electric, Herman Miller, HP, IBM, Kraft, Nike, and Patagonia are collaborating with the original source and welcoming biologists to the design lab. Fast Company presents a portfolio of stunning designs, from the practical to the whimsical, inspired by nature. The entire article is available online at

It's a Trend, by Linda Tischler, page 140.
Fashion sorceress Li Edelkoort has seen the future - and it will soon be on sale. Edelkort is the go-to trend forecaster for the fashion, beauty, retail, auto, electronics, and interior-design industries. Her influence can be seen in every American mall. "People think I am some mystic or gypsy," Edelkoort says. "What I really do is pay attention." Among her predictions: Modernist architecture will make a comeback - "Once again, we'll want to live in a box, because it makes us feel calm and organized." Mushrooms will be ubiquitous - "It's definitely a time for magic and disproportion." Covering up with veils and layers will be cool - "Between fundamentalist and fashionista there will be no difference." The pumped-up look for guys is passé - "I saw a billboard with David Beckham selling underwear. It looked so old." Vulgar self-promotion is out - "Discretion will be the new thing. More Greta Garbo, less Paris Hilton." And much more. . . The entire article is available online at

The Sipping Chip: Reinventing the Atom, by Adam L. Penenberg, page 144.
"Designing a microprocessor like the Atom, Intel's smallest chip ever, is like planning a city so tiny it could fit into a single bacteria," Adam Penenberg writes. The Atom is not faster than previous processors. "In fact, it does less," he notes. "But it uses a fraction of the battery power - 10 times less, according to Intel - and therein lie the seeds of a revolution in mobile technology." The entire article is available online at

Stephen Holl's Global Footprint, by Aric Chen, page 150.
How rule breaking, vision, and a healthy shot of ego propelled architect Stephen Holl to the top of his craft. (Next up: a "horizontal skyscraper" in China.) The entire article is available online at

Design Factories, by Tim McKeough (photographs by Tom Schierlitz), page 156.
The secret heroes of the marketplace are industrial designers who finesse products to make them easier to use-and to sell. Highlights from five top firms. The entire article is available online at

The Type Freaks, by Mark Borden, page 166.
The font provocateurs at House Industries don't do Helvetica. Instead, they take their cues from heavy metal, skateboarding, and hot rods - and give companies from Build-A-Bear to Royal Dutch Shell a look that defines their brands, letter by letter. The entire article is available online at

Linda Tischler is available for general interviews on the Masters of Design. All other writers are also available to be interviewed on their stories: Anya Kamenetz, Mark Borden, Tim McKeough, Aric Chen, Kate Rockwood, and Adam L. Penenberg.

« Back to Press Releases