- Ideo: The undisputed design champ, with new work for the Department of Energy and TSA, Medtronic, PNC Bank, and (Red).
- Marcel Wanders Studio: A growing global brand, Wanders produced a glam design for Miami’s Mondrian hotel; a flurry of home products; and a new Villa Moda store for the “Sheik of Chic,” Kuwait’s Majed al-Sabah.
- Rockwell Group: Its roster of standout projects includes the marketplace at JetBlue’s JFK terminal, a line of hotels for Starwood, a playground (see page 40), and this year’s set for the Oscars.
- Pentagram: In 2008, Pentagram’s partners created the new Harley-Davidson museum; redesigns for The Atlantic, Vibe, and Consumer Reports; and seats for United Airlines.
- Whipsaw: A brilliant year for Whipsaw, with designs for everything from baby bottles to slot machines.
- Ammunition: Robert Brunner’s firm excelled with outdoor grills, joysticks, laptops, and more. Brunner also penned a book, Do You Matter?
- Frog design: The resources the firm devoted to Project Masiluleke — an effort to enhance HIV education in Africa via mobile technology — showed that Frog designs with a conscience.
- Fuseproject: Yves Béhar followed the One Laptop Per Child computer with furniture for HBF, a set-top box for Canal+, and a Swarovski chandelier for New York’s Museum of Arts and Design.
- Smart Design: Its Femme Den designers conceived a female-targeted runners watch for Nike that looks, well, smart.
- NewDealDesign: A snuggly disaster-relief cocoon. A sleek charging station for electric cars. This is a firm to watch.
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