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...   We put the funk in function.
Leonardo da Vinci
Nathan Shedroff
J.Otto Seibold
Richard Saul Wurman
Peter Greenaway
I.M. Pei
Bill Watterson
Gavin Ivester
Don Norman
Edward Tufte
Frank Miller
Scott McCloud

Ooo, crunchy shiny bubbly design. For your viewing pleasure:


Psst. IA has its own page now.

Check out the innovation and reach of these uber-designers.

AeroVironment [ ]: Started by Paul MacReady, flight engineering genius, and builder of flying things that are lighter, bigger, higher, slower, and smaller. His inventions include the Gossamer Condor, the first man-powered flight machine, and the Helios, an unmanned high-altitude (60,000 ft, higher than any commercial aircraft) solar-powered plane that serves as a telecommunications platform (and a cheap, easily-upgradable alternative to satellites). They also do other cool stuff, but I like the flying things best.

IDEO [ ]

frog design [ ] (Shockwave required)

Fitch [ ] (Flash and non-flash versions available)

Pentagram [ ] (Flash required)

Karim Rashid [ ]: Prolific, future-oriented, can't stop the ideas from coming. Cool profile and interview from ONE. In addition, directory listing from core77, including contact info, client list and publications.

Doblin Group [ ]: Rather than design products, they design scenarios, processes, services and organizations.

WorldStudio Foundation [ ]: Socially-conscious design org with a for-profit arm that donates 10% of profits, and a foundation that provides scholarships and sponsors design-oriented activities for the underprivileged.


I like these illustrators' styles and wit. And the fact that they live in San Francisco. And have websites.

Brian Biggs [ ]: I used to work with a guy called Brian Biggs. People kidded him all the time about being mistaken for this quirky SF-based illustrator. Mr. Biggs (the illustrator) has illos, comics, animations, and games.

Guy Billout [ ]: OK, he doesn't live in SF. But I love the delicacy of his surrealistic illustrations with punchlines.

Gary Kelley: He doesn't live in SF either. And he doesn't have a website. :-( But his murals for Barnes & Noble's stores are mainstream art now. I also worked on CD-ROM software and packaging that used illustrations he created exclusively for the products.

J. Otto Siebold [ ]: An illustrator whose whimsical Adobe-Illustratored work was initially limited to tech publications, Jotto attained mainstream success with his work on children's books such as Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride, authored with his wife, Vivian Walsh. Jotto has since parlayed his talents into other venues such as retail (shopping bags, signage, posters and ads for Nordstrom's), public places (posters for the SF Zoo), TV and video (Fox's Christmas 1999 special, produced by Matt Groening, Olive, the Other Reindeer, based on Jotto's book of the same name), and now, clothing and other knick-knacks sold at a store in the Sony Metreon called Bubblesoap. Jotto's site is an example of totally appropriate and fun use of Flash. Oh, and it has a store, too.


One of the biggest reasons I love bookstores is that I get to sit down with a cup of mocha and peruse all these magazines for free. Cool magazines and their (occasionally) cool sites.

I.D. Magazine (International Design) [ ]: The coolest general-interest design mag, focused on the design of products and environments, and the occasional graphics and software design. Their website, unfortunately, serves up occasional, one-off specials.

One [ ] (skippable Flash intro): Launched at the end of 2000, this trendoid mag goes up against the more-established wallpaper. It is, however, backed up by a fully-functional website, packed chockful of content and stuff to buy, buy, buy!

Wallpaper* [ ] (requires Flash): "Read about design, architecture, and consumer culture" is what their search engine description says. Cool publication. As for the website: stop with the Flash, hidden navigation, and gratuitously spawning windows already.

Graphis [ ]: Part of the venerable Graphis design publishing house, this "international journal of visual communication" is the only one I know which consistently comes out in a bilingual (English/Italian) format. The site, while stylishly-designed, only offers what amounts to a table of contents.

Print [ ]: "America's Graphic Design Magazine." I wonder if design magazines such as this will see their relevance eroded as more design work gravitates online. Maybe not. This site, also, works more as a table of contents and order form for the magazine.

Step-by-Step Graphics [ ]: The magazine that distinguishes itself by being somewhat instructional in its format, delivering insights into how the experts actually produce their work. I especially like when they focus on illustrators. The site is mainly a teaser/store concept, with links to minimal content.

How [ ] (Thanks for the URL, Drue!): Graphic design magazine that delves more into the business and marketing end of things. Its site, like those of many of its competitors', acts more as a marketing tool than a magazine. A bunch of excerpts from past issues, but never for the current one.

Communication Arts [ ]: Dedicates each issue to a visual design specialty such as advertising, photography, illustration and interactive design. Site has excerpted content from past issues, but never the current issue.

Metropolis Magazine [ ]: This architecture design mag is one of the more cerebral publications in this group. And its website doesn't hold back on content!


Cool thangs do so go here.

Palm [ ]: After a blockbuster start and pretty much owning the PDA market (around 70% as of the end of 2000), Palm lost their founding team (and creative genius), and have degenerated to standard marketing drivel such as color faceplates and supermodel endorsements.

Handspring [ ]: Started by the team that created Palm, Handspring provides a more consumer-friendly and hip alternative to Palm. I liken them to the Sony of PDAs (which is less of a coincidence than you may think).

OXO [ ]: Started by Sam Farber in 1990, made universal design and easy-to-use kitchen tools cool. Site is cool, too (altho, they could do away with that splash page).

ThinkMap [ ]: I don't know why I like this app so much. Must be the moving links between concepts, and how concepts actually grow or shrink based on their importance in relation to your current context. It's not always obvious at first glance how ideas are related, but it sure is beautiful and fun to play with.

The Brain [ ]: Similar to thinkmap, but different. ;-) Checkitout.

Porsche [ ]: Aside from a hiccup with the 928 (what were you thinking, guys?), this sports car company epitomizes the stylish efficiency and power of German design.


I want a passive solar home near the ocean. Preferably on a tropical island with its own power plant.

I.M. Pei [ ]: What more can be said about this guy? He's designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Louvre (his crowning achievement?), Bank of China, and the JFK Library.

Frank Gehry [ ]: This guy has done a lot more hip projects than I.M. Pei. Such as the Experience Music project in Seattle (must.see.this) and Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (must.go.bilbao).

Rural Studio [ ]: Alternative materials architecture project at Auburn University, Alabama. Started by Sam Mockbee and Dennis Ruth to build housing for the poor, and provide hands-on experiential learning for architecture students.


A buncha quotes I've saved over the years.

"Patience protects from insults as clothes protect from the cold; if you put on more as it grows colder, it will not harm you; so, too, you should increase your patience in the face of great insults, and they will not reach your spirit." -- Leonardo da Vinci

"... a problem with defined limits, with an implied or stated problem (system of rules) that in turn is conducive to the instinct of play, will most likely yield an interested student and, very often, a meaningful and novel solution." -- Paul Rand

"... during the era in which Britain evolved from being a 'consumer' to a 'consumerist' society. Terence Conran recalls that, 'there was a strange moment around the mid-60s when people stopped needing and need changed into want ... Designers became more important in producing "want" products rather than "need" products, because you have to create desire.'" -- Nigel Whiteley

"... it is really want rather than need that drives the process of technological evolution ... Luxury, rather than necessity, is the mother of invention. Every artifact is somewhat wanting in its function, and this is what drives its evolution." -- Henry Petroski


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