"John Maeda is a visionary," says Paul Warwick Thompson, director of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. "He is fundamentally changing the way we think about design." More to the point, Maeda is fundamentally changing the way MIT's renowned Media Lab thinks about technology.
For Maeda, who has devoted his career to making technology more human, the magic word is "simplicity." The lab's new research agenda, which he rolled out in a two-day conference this past March, is called simply that. Maeda wants to rewind "overfeaturized" tech tools back to version 1.0, and make them seamless and intuitive. Maeda's vision finds its purest expression in his open-source infrastructure for creativity on the Web—a kind of Linux for art tools—in which the browser becomes a global hub for editing, annotating, and sharing digital media. He expects that one day it will fuel a vast, online marketplace for the creative arts. It's all part of Maeda's ultimate mission: to put the soul of the artist into the science of digital design.
- Peak Performers: Four masters who are leading the world of design
- Impact Players: Four high-impact projects that shaped the year in design—and the people who launched them
- William McDonough, Principal and founder, William McDonough + Partners
- Tom Ford , Former Creative Director, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent
- Jonathan Ive, Vice President of Industrial Design, Apple Computer Inc.
- Marcia Lausen, Founding member, AIGA Design for Democracy
- Game Changers: The risk takers and agitators who are rewriting the rules
- Collaborators: Champions who help make great design happen
- Robyn Waters, Founder and president of RW Trend, LLC
- Kun-Hee Lee, Chairman and CEO, Samsung electronics
- Sam Farber, Founder, Copco, OXO, and Wovo
- Bob Porter, Executive Vice President, SSM Health Care
- Next Generation: Meet four rising stars who are charting the future
- A Jury of Their Peers
- Introducing 11 jurors—top leaders from universities, cultural institutions, and business—who helped us select our 20 Masters of Design.
- Lessons From the Masters
- These five ideas will help you incorporate design principles in your work — and better connect with customers and colleagues.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2004 issue of Fast Company