Wallpaper* Power 200: the world’s top design names and influencers

Wallpaper* Power 200: the world’s top design names and influencers

It’s back with a double helping of provocation and praise. We have plumped up this year’s Power List to a meaty two-ton’s worth of carefully measured rankings, an upscaled calibration of design achievement.

As we strongly suspected, last year’s Power 100 caused a considerable stir and provoked strong words. And, as last month’s editor’s letter made clear, even alarming threats of revenge and recrimination. So this year, unchastened, we thought we would do it all again, but double the dose. To mark our 200th issue, the power 100 has become 200. Or rather 100+100 (normal disservice will be resumed next year). And, in a self-congratulatory nod to our keen eye for talent and perhaps the propulsive effect we have had on nascent design careers, we have trawled the Wallpaper* archives, retraced our expert truffling and recovered the debut appearances of future Power Listers. (Look out for long-lost hair, unlined faces and eyes undimmed).

But to the science. This year we have restricted the core top 100 list strictly to product designers. And employing complex algorithms, ‘big data’ and the purest subjectivity, we have ranked them according to influence, market value, quality and quantity of output, reputational shift and that more mysterious sense of momentum, of rightness for right now. Those who have had a good year will find themselves risen up the ranks; others may get that sinking feeling. We have also added extra lists: of architects who turn their pencils to product design; of CEOs and other corporate chiefs who have matched vision and ambition with surefootedness; of graphic designers who snap our grid; of interior designers who create and compose the most seductive of spaces; and of designers yet to hit 40 but already making an impact. Or course our rankings are a provocation, but they are also a mapping of power and influence, of larger shifts and forces.

Let the debate begin...

Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, has changed behaviours and created ‘needs’ we never knew we had, turning technology’s cult underdog into the world’s most valuable company. With Steve Jobs gone, and everyone alert to the slightest Apple miss-step, Ive is now facing greater public scrutiny. The many and various permutations of the Apple Watch and strap, and the offer of a high-end version – a shift from Apple’s usual policy of limiting choice and upgrades to under-the-bonnet performance enhancements – are seen as Ive’s innovations. And rumours and counter-rumours about the Apple Watch’s success, or lack of, continue to swirl. The latest chatter is that Apple is working on a self-driving car, currently being tested in California.  

Jonathan Ive

Outside of Ive, Marc Newson is the world’s highest-profile industrial designer. The pair are also long time pals. Little surprise then that Ive recruited Newson to help out with the design of Apple Watch. He has no official title at Apple but Newson says that 60 per cent of his time is now spent on Apple business and he makes monthly trips to Cupertino. Newson already had watch experience, launching the Ikepod line in the 1990s. He has also designed concept cars for Ford so it seems a relatively safe bet that Newson is currently at work on the Apple Car. And if the last year wasn’t eventful enough for Newson, this May one of his ‘Lockheed Lounge’ chairs sold at auction at Phillips in London for £2.4m, the highest price yet paid for the work of a living designer.

Marc Newson

London-based designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have had a breathtaking year, capped by the publication of a monograph celebrating their work, and the award of the 2015 London Design Medal in September. This supremely versatile and gifted pair have been on an unstoppable tear ever since their universally lauded design for the Olympic torch in 2012 lifted them into truly rarified air. The pair now helm three studios, each founded to expand the range of projects they can take on, ranging this year from an understated shower control for Axor to the contract to design interiors, exteriors and livery for the new London Crossrail line.

Barber & Osgerby

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