The Masters of Design

by Erika Templeton

As you've probably noticed by now from the cover, we're making a fresh start for January. In addition to our special 30th anniversary logo, we're filling the pages of I&S with new departments (Product Breakdown and Versus), new design, and some new ways of thinking about the industry we cover (World-At-Large Feature and Field Notes). We'll be rolling out more new concepts throughout the early months of 2014, so now's the time to share your thoughts and help us shape this publication into your perfect resource for all things commercial interior design and architecture. We always appreciate hearing from you!

To kick things off, we're paying homage to the masters of design, but being a "master" can mean a lot of different things. In trying to lay bare exactly what we're saying when we give someone the honor of such a term, I found my favorite definitions in the Collins English Dictionary:

  • a workman or craftsman fully qualified to practice his trade and to train others in it
  • an abstract thing regarded as having power or influence
  • a person who has complete control of a situation
  • an original copy, stencil, tape, etc., from which duplicates are made

The designers you'll see in the pages that follow are certainly masters of their craft. They have proven to be fantastic mentors, equally skilled at imparting their wisdom on a new generation. And yes, in the process, their personas can build up over time to become larger-than-life icons of talent. (Who can deny the abstract influence of the late greats like Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe?)

It goes without saying, too, that masters of design hold control of a situation—they are quite literally keepers of the master plan. But my favorite is the last definition, focused on the more tangible qualities of our design masters' work. As Roberto Palomba says in our Profiles feature, "[we started to realize people looked up to our own work] when we saw that more and more of our products have been copied."

We can gripe about knock-offs and IP rights (and should), but imitation will forever remain a form of flattery, and certainly a sign that you've "made it."

With these ideas in mind, I invite you to explore the rest of our January issue, where you'll meet some of the great talents of our current day. What does being a master of design mean to you?