In memoriam: celebrating the lives and work of those we lost in 2021

We pause to remember inspirational creative figures sadly lost in 2021, to whom Wallpaper* paid tribute during the year

In memoriam in white type on black background
(Image credit: press)

Any review of 2021 should acknowledge the array of talents from across the creative spectrum that we have sadly lost during the year. Here, we remember just some of the inspirational creative figures – from fields including architecture, design, art, fashion, jewellery, and more – whose loss we mourn but whose enduring work and lasting legacy we continue to cherish and celebrate.

In memoriam

Virgil Abloh, creative polymath (1980 – 2021)

In memoriam: Virgil Abloh portrait, shows Abloh on Pont Neuf in Paris, photographed for Wallpaper* by Marvin Leuvrey

Virgil Abloh on the Pont Neuf in Paris in 2019, with ‘Color Gradient Chair’ (2018).

(Image credit: Photographed for Wallpaper* by Marvin Leuvrey)

A boundary-breaking figure, Virgil Abloh transcended a host of creative fields, spanning fashion, art, design and music. Appointed men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton in 2018, he was one of the few Black designers to lead a luxury French fashion house. 


Elsa Peretti, jewellery designer (1940 – 2021)

In memoriam: Elsa Peretti portrait from 1975

Italian jewellery designer Elsa Peretti poses for a photo shoot in 1975 at her residence in New York.

(Image credit: Michael Tighe/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

In 1974, Elsa Peretti began her tenure at Tiffany & Co, a partnership which endured for the rest of her life. Her statement pieces quickly became iconic silhouettes in jewellery design, and continue to be bestsellers today.


Trevor Dannatt, architect (1920 – 2021)

In memoriam: Black and white portrait of architect Trevor Dannatt

Trevor Dannatt.

(Image credit: Photography: Rob Petherick. Courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts, London)

The designs of British architect Trevor Dannatt OBE RA wove humble, traditional materials and modernist ideas. For Wallpaper’s May 2012 issue (W*158), his son, art critic Adrian Dannatt, gave an account of one of the architect’s new projects at the time, a private house in Petersfield. Following Trevor Dannatt’s passing in February 2021, we republished the article in tribute.


Pauline Deltour, designer (1983 – 2021)

Portrait of designer Pauline Deltour

(Image credit: press)

French designer Pauline Deltour was a much loved figure, with a sublime sensitivity for colour and shape; her works spanned furniture design, objects created with artisans, transport and technology-oriented projects as well as jewellery.


Richard Rogers, architect (1933 – 2021)

Portrait of architect Richard Rogers, looking in a mirror

Richard Rogers, photographed for Wallpaper’s July 2013 issue (W*172) in his house in Chelsea, London, a light and airy space he created in the 1980s by knocking together two terraced houses.

(Image credit: Tim Gutt)

We celebrate the life and career of Richard Rogers, one of the most influential architects of our era and winner of the 2007 Pritzker Prize.


Lawrence Weiner, conceptual art pioneer (1942 – 2021)

Portrait of artist Lawrence Weiner in January 2017

Portrait of artist Lawrence Weiner in January 2017. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Moved Pictures; Archive Photo Maria Sprowls)

Lawrence Weiner was present at the birth of conceptualism in the late 1960s. Shaking up conventions, he probed the essence of what art should stand for, what role the artist should assume, and how they should relate to the viewer.


Alber Elbaz, fashion designer (1961 – 2021)

Portrait zia Zoom of the late fashion design Alber Elbaz

Alber Elbaz, shot via Zoom by New York street photographer Bruce Gilden on 22 February 2021, for the May 2021 Issue of Wallpaper*

(Image credit: Bruce Gilden)

The Israeli fashion designer, who founded label AZ Factory in 2021, is most renowned for his creative directorship at Lanvin, from 2001 to 2015, where he rejuvenated the house with his imaginative designs, brimming with colour, print and volume.


Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, landscape architect (1921 – 2021)

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander in 2018, sitting on a Harry Bertoia ‘Diamond’ chair in her Vancouver home, located in the University Endowment Lands, a semi-forested area west of the city

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander photographed for Wallpaper* in 2018, sitting on a Harry Bertoia ‘Diamond’ chair in her Vancouver home.

(Image credit: Yoshihiro Makino)

The career of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the critically acclaimed Canadian landscape architect, was filled with impressive highlights. ‘My passion is to be with nature and introduce people to it from all levels of society,’ she told Wallpaper* in a 2018 interview. ‘I believe in the therapeutic effects of greenery on the human soul.’ 


Ken Garland, designer, educator, writer and activist (1929 – 2021)

Unit Editions: Ken Garland, Structure and Substance

Ken Garland: Structure and Substance, published by Unit Editions

(Image credit: press)

One of the most pre-eminent British post-war designers, Ken Garland had a long and distinguished career as a commercial designer but was also passionate about ethics, particularly the use and abuse of imagery for advertising purposes. 


Robert Opron, auto designer and engineer (1932 – 2021)

1973 Citroen DS21 designed by Robert Opron

1973 Citroën DS21, one of the last examples to be made

(Image credit: press)

Perhaps more than any other designer, Robert Opron’s work came to embody the qualities of idiosyncrasy and individuality in French car design, helping set the output of the country’s factories at odds with convention. Our article celebrates his genius.


Etel Adnan, writer and artist (1925 – 2021)

Etel Adnan, the American-Lebanese artist and writer, at home in her studio workshop on April 8, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catherine Panchout / Sygma via Getty Images

The American-Lebanese artist and writer at home in her studio workshop on 8 April 2015 in Paris, France.

(Image credit: Catherine Panchout / Sygma via Getty Images)

Etel Adnan was an acclaimed writer, trailblazing artist and pioneer in Arab-American culture. Her prolific, wide-ranging and ever-evolving practice continued throughout the final decade of her life, and for Wallpaper’s October 2021 25th Anniversary issue, she was selected by Michèle Lamy as one of her five creative pioneers. 


Paulo Mendes da Rocha, architect (1928 – 2021)

Paulo Mendes da Rocha, photographed in 2010 for Wallpaper*

Paulo Mendes da Rocha, photographed in 2010 for Wallpaper*

(Image credit: Carol Sachs)

Paulo Mendes da Rocha was one of the world’s last great modernists, as well as one of Brazil’s most important architects to date.


Zeev Aram, founder of Aram Designs (1931 – 2021)

Zeev Aram

Zeev Aram, founder and chairman of Aram Designs.

(Image credit: Ivan Jones)

Our article remembers and celebrates Zeev Aram, a hugely influential design personality who championed creativity and fresh talent.


Dennis Gilbert, architectural photographer (1951 – 2021)

Warwick Junction, Durban, South Africa, photographed by Dennis Gilbert, 2019

Warwick Junction, Durban, South Africa, by Asiye eTafuleni

(Image credit: Photograph by Dennis Gilbert, 2019)

Architectural photographer Dennis Gilbert, founder of View Pictures, one of the foremost agencies for architectural imagery, and an honorary fellow of RIBA, helped shape our perception of contemporary architecture.


Chris Wilkinson, architect (1945 – 2021)

portrait of architect chris wilkinson

Architect Chris Wilkinson.

(Image credit: Rob Greig)

We remember British architect Chris Wilkinson, of WilkinsonEyre, who brought a rare humanity and sense of art to architecture in all its forms.


Ruy Ohtake, architect (1938 – 2021)

bold furniture and concrete exterior at Ruy Ohtake designed Sao Paulo house

Pages from our 2001 interview with Ruy Ohtake, photographed at the Tomie Ohtake Residence, which he designed in 1968. Interiors editor: Kelly Russell. Interiors assistant: Ana Stecca

(Image credit: press)

To honour the memory of Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake, a master of Brazilian modernism, we revisit the Tomie Ohtake Residence, which he designed in 1968 for his parents and named after his mother, abstract painter Tomie Ohtake. Our interview from the Wallpaper* archive was first published in 2001.


Gottfried Böhm, architect (1920-2021)

the concrete shapes of Gottfried Bohm's Pilgrimage Church

Gottfried Böhm’s Pilgrimage Church near Cologne, its roof made up of complex folds of concrete.

(Image credit: Micha de Ridder)

To mark the passing of Pritzker Prize-winning German architect Gottfried Böhm, we revisit a story from the Wallpaper* archives (2007), celebrating the geometric shapes of his 1968 Pilgrimage Church near Cologne.


Umberto Riva, architect, designer and painter (1928-2021)

Umberto Riva

(Image credit: press)

Italian architect, designer and painter Umberto Riva was a much loved figure of Milanese architecture and design, a discreet creator with an artist’s vision and ‘a curiosity that cuts across boundaries’.


Owen Luder (1928 – 2021)

Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth, by the Owen Luder Partnership, photograph by Sue Barr

Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth (completed in 1966, demolished in 2004), by the Owen Luder Partnership.

(Image credit: Sue Barr)

Owen Luder was the pre-eminent exponent of raw concrete architecture in the UK, a pioneer whose influence continues to be felt.


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.