Legendary art director George Lois on judging the Wallpaper* Design Awards

George Lois, trying out the Apple Watch Hermès, surrounded by his design collection in his New York apartment.
George Lois, trying out the Apple Watch Hermès, surrounded by his design collection in his New York apartment.
(Image credit: Jason Schmidt)

The advertising and graphic design titan George Lois is best known for telling the world how easy it is to work a Xerox machine (a monkey could do it), turning a then-floundering MTV into a pop-cultural phenomenon, inspiring the character of Don Draper in Mad Men and creating a decade’s worth of groundbreaking US Esquire magazine covers, 38 of which are in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. These iconic images include Muhammad Ali as St Sebastian (‘He pointed to each of the arrows and named them after people who were really after him,’ Lois recounts) and Andy Warhol drowning in an enlarged can of Campbell’s tomato soup. 

Today, Lois spends his time vetting young people’s ideas for the product innovation platform MindBlower, playing basketball and enjoying the fruit of many successful years in the business. His own love of art and design is reflected in an incredibly diverse personal haul, from Tiffany lamps and Wiener Werkstätte furniture to Native American artifacts and Japanese screens. The collection is gradually taking over the Greenwich Village apartment that he still shares with his wife, Rosemary, a successful artist in her own right, in New York City. 

Throughout our photo shoot, which saw Lois experiment with this year’s Life Enhancer of the Year, the Apple Watch Hermès, the veteran ad man couldn’t help but poke fun at the multifunctional gadget. ‘It’s an iPhone for health nuts,’ he exclaims, while striking classic horological fashion poses that show off the timepiece as well as a certain finger. ‘Does this thing even tell the time?’

‘It’s the kind of watch that you wear and you let everyone know that you’re wearing it, you know what I mean?’ he continues. ‘I voted for it because it’s going to be a hot item. It will be after this [story comes out].’

As originally featured in the February 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*203)

An animation flashing the words "2016 DESIGN AWARDS".

(Image credit: Jason Schmidt)

See the Design Awards 2016 in full – including our extra-special Judges' Awards - here


Photography: Jason Schmidt

Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.