Infographic: 50 People Shaping The Future Of Design

If you look at the ideas each one of these people represents, you’ll find a broad narrative about how design is changing.

In our design issue last year, the Co.Design 50 laid out 50 of the most influential designers in America. This year, as a sequel, we took it upon ourselves to highlight 50 people who are shaping the future of design.

That sounds like a funny task. But our staff was after people pushing the boundaries of their discipline into promising new directions. Thus, you’ll find people like Jochen Zeitz, the chief sustainability officer overseeing PPR’s myriad brands, which include Puma and Gucci. You’ll find Evan Sharp, the cofounder of Pinterest, which just might be the next big paradigm in online shopping. And you’ll find David Holz, the CTO of Leap Motion, a company making gestural interfaces a reality for PCs.

Click to enlarge.

We think that if you look at the ideas each one of these people represents, you’ll find a broad narrative about how design is changing—how businesses are using design in surprising ways, how our interactions with computers and handheld devices are evolving, and how high-tech processes are working their ways into once-static disciplines.

To map out all of these people for our October 2012 issue, we tapped Ben Gibson, the designer behind Popchart Labs. I think you’ll agree that Ben did a superb job, and came up with an elegant solution for charting all of the myriad disciplines that each of these remarkable people touch upon. Enjoy!

The 9/11 Memorial, by Local Projects’ Jake Barton, who is part of the Co.D 50.

Part 1

Including Josh Brewer, the principal designer at Twitter and the company’s semi-official role model, and Krista Donaldson, the CEO of D-Rev, a startup that develops disruptive innovations for the developing world.

The Leap Motion detects gestures with 100 times more accuracy than anything before it.

Part 2

Including Matias Duarte, the man in charge of making Android more beautiful and usable, and Kenya Hara, the legendary art director at Muji.

Rodarte’s costumes for a recent production with a set by Frank Gehry.

Part 3

Including Dustin Mierau, the overlooked design-mind behind Path, and Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, who have become inspiring costumers for ballet and opera.

A Japanese Starbucks designed by Kengo Kuma.

Part 4

Including Arthur Rubinfeld, the chief creative officer at Starbucks, who’s rethinking the chain’s retail experience, and Todd Simmons, executive creative director at Wolff Olins, one of today’s boldest branding and innovation firms.

The Little Printer, by Berg, whose founders are in the Co.D 50.

Part 5

Including Wang Shi, one of China’s new self-made billionaires who has also become its biggest patron for contemporary architecture, and Iris Van Herpen, who some have labeled the Alexander McQueen of the 21st century.

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27 Comments

  • Anika Davis

    Good to know that designers are still trying to enhance their skills and pushing their ability to the limit to create something different in this modern days.

  • obloodyhell

    This is a very very good example of an infographic gone wrong. What a terrible gimmicky illustration. Not only it is a flashy visual, but it also contains some shitty information that was taken from a cheap tabloid magazine... FastCo... Is this serious?

  • Observist

    Yeah, there's no such thing as a FUTURE of design. It's an in the moment process. What is happening NOW in trends, NOT in the future. BS.

  • Arnold Sales

    I would have forgiven the infographic boo-boo but checking the magnifying glass and accidentally saw Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen....really?

  • arvind

    well, the future of infographics is certainly not here at Fast Company.. what was the point of all those arrows and water tower metaphors, again?

    (if you can't design a useful and usable infographic, what makes you think you have a handle on the future of design? where design now is, certainly – hence the trend-following graphic – but where design is going? that's harder than picking out good designersa)

  • Beverley Price

    Do I sign up for "The World Series" ? I am a South African Jewellery ....yes an extra 'l' and 'e'...Designer and Sculptor? Does our virtual forum now render equality in our magnificent differentness? God bless Planet Earth and the space in between. In South Africa we are close to source and origin. Beautiful, raw latency! Save the rhino -yayyyyyy.Beverley Price, Johannesburg.

  • Taco Truck

    I hate these kind of lists. Is it just me, or does it seem like these lists really are just like those "Most Likely to..." sections in high school yearbooks, where only the popular kids were chosen? Who's to say what work will last or influence tomorrow? "Shaping the Future of Design" seems a bit pretentious to me since the future of design is largely unknown. I do wish the graphic that was created was more navigable, as pretty as it is.

  • JT

    This is probably the LEAST effective way to convey this information. Form over function. If the cool/pretty factor gets in the way of the message you aren't communicating effectively.

  • Andrew Kean

    I agree with other comments, I am interested in the content, however the way in which it is presented (the designed form via this media) makes this difficult and frustrating, not enjoyable and enlightening. Would there be a chance that the list/graphic could be made available? The graphic suggests connections and relationships between the designers, could this be made clearer what that is?

  • Chris O'Dell

    I really wanted to check out the graphic, but the navigation is terribly difficult.  Is there a chance we could get an enlarged version to just see all at one time? This magnifying glass makes following the connections really difficult.

  • campbellmacdonald

    Very cool stuff, but the "infographic" is a) using the term info loosely and b) is an example of bad design.

    Pretty but hard to navigate, understand and read. 

  • g3creatives

    A little difficult to read, and it does not seem to work.

    Marianne, G3 Creative.

  • Jenna Markowski

    I have to agree with previous comments that this infographic (if you can call it that, it's not really even an infographic. Just a graphic) is nearly impossible to read/navigate. I lost all interest in this otherwise interesting article because of it. 

  • Guest

    Does this really need to be an infographic? How about a big list? The interface for this was definitely not designed by any of the top 50.