The Top 9 Designers of 2014

Artsy Editorial
Dec 23, 2014 3:22AM

The below list of nine designers who helped shape 2014 includes established names like Marc Newson, whose collaborations run the gamut from Gagosian to G-Star, as well as emerging designers like The Haas Brothers, who landed on the design scene with an unconventional style encompassing otherworldly ceramics. While certainly not exhaustive, the below designers represent the most prolific, inspiring, and influential practices of this year.

Hairy J. Blige double-hump bench from the Beast series, 2014
R & Company
Cerberus three-headed Zoidberg desk lamp, 2014
R & Company

The Los Angeles-based Haas Brothers were practically unavoidable in the media in 2014, a year which included the publication of their first book and first U.S. solo exhibition “Cool World” at New York’s R & Company. Earlier this spring at Salone del Mobile, Flavor Paper unveiled the Haas-designed, blacklight friendly wallpaper. The twins still somehow found time to travel—to Tibet to learn about the process of making rugs (their own debuted during Design Miami/ in Miami) and to South Africa for a collaboration that will be shown early next year in New York.

Paraventissimo 01 e 02 pair of screens, 2014
Nilufar Gallery

As guest curator at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery this spring, Martino Gamper opened “Design is a State of Mind,” which then traveled to the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin, where it’s currently on view through the end of February 2015. Also in collaboration with the Sackler, Gamper organized a traveling show complete with live demonstrations called “In a State of Repair” during Salone del Mobile in Milan. Gamper, who teaches at the Royal College of Art and released a number of new projects this past year for clients such as Moroso and Kvadrat, also exhibited new limited-edition work with Nilufar Gallery, with whom he’s exhibited since 2007.

"Karbon", 2008
Galerie kreo

In 2014, German designer Konstantin Grcic produced a slew of sleek new products for clients like Vitra, Artek, Arflex, and Nespresso. He also dedicated time to limited editions; in February Galerie kreo opened “Man Machine,” a group of kinetic furniture comprised of glass and pistons. In March, Vitra Design Museum opened “Panorama,” a solo show of his work that included objects that provided the designer’s inspiration and three installations of Grcic’s vision for the future. At Design Miami/ Basel last June, Grcic also had the honor of designing Audi’s TT Pavilion, a polygonal prefabricated shelter made up of car parts.

This year was especially busy for Sheila Hicks, an artist whose work has been as enthusiastically embraced by the world of design as art (particularly, when her cascading pillar of rainbow-colored cords was a centerpiece of the Whitney Biennial). In March, Sikkema Jenkins presented a show of Hicks’s work that included a large-scale installation, Lares and Penates (1990-2013), and several “minimes,” small scale works that have been part of her practice throughout her five-decade career. During Design Miami/ Basel in June, Demisch Danant presented Séance (2014), a site specific installation where the artist took up residence. This year, Hicks also unveiled the recreation of her previously damaged installation for the Ford Foundation of 1967.

Cat Attack, 2014
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Taj Mahal II, 2013
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
"Horse Bust" (Chess Piece), 2014

Over the past 10 years, Job Smeets, one half of Belgian design duo Studio Job, estimates he and his partner Nynke Smeets have designed work for more than 300 shows, but in 2014, the pair—who received numerous accolades and awards this year—embraced a new assignment as curators. In September, they selected the first collection for Chamber, a New York gallery founded by Juan Garcia Mosqueda. The show included their own work, as well as pieces by established designers like Tom Dixon and Alessandro Mendini, and by emerging talents like Studio Formafantasma and Aldo Bakker. At Design Miami/, Carpenters Workshop Gallery exhibited new large scale work from Studio Job’s “Landmark” series.

Gemstone table, 2013
Galerie kreo

Following up on a banner year in 2013, in which Dutch designer Hella Jongerius’ design for the UN North Delegate’s Lounge in New York opened to the public and her redesign for KLM World Business Class launched, Jongerius continued her tradition of the highest-quality output in 2014. The V&A acquired Jongerius’ UN Lounge Chair (2014) and exhibited it for the first time during London Design Festival in September. Galerie kreo, who represents the designer’s limited-edition work, also made a special edition of the chair available for consumers.

Chatsworth Yew Logs, 2013
Gallery FUMI
Medium Portland Limestone Lamp, 2014
Johnson Trading Gallery

Max Lamb, the cooly cerebral British designer with a reputation for exceedingly elaborate processes, moved into the spotlight this year. In 2014, at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, we saw the debut of Marmoreal, the engineered marble installation two years in production with London-based gallery dzek. On top of that, Lamb exhibited new work with London’s Gallery FUMI, such as Urushi Low Table and White Poly Dining Table and Chairs, and New York’s Johnson Trading Gallery, namely Pewter Stools and a group of unique Portland Limestone Lights. Don’t miss Almine Rech’s show in London next month featuring Lamb, along with Chris Succo and Ayan Farah.

In September of this year, just four days before unveiling their first smart watch, Apple made a huge announcement that Marc Newson would join Senior Vice President of Design, Jonathan Ive, on staff at Apple. This news came on the heels of Newson’s solo show (and accompanying Collab Design Excellence Award) at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. ‘“Marc Newson At Home,” which closed in April, included a 2,000-square-foot abstracted house and garage fully furnished with all objects designed by Newson, from a Ford concept car to his dish drying rack. 

Uncertain Surface (after coffee table/praying table), 2014
Patrick Parrish Gallery

It was an important year for the Minneapolis-based RO/LU. The design practice of Matt Olson and Mike Brady was profiled in WSJ magazine in September, while at the same time two exhibitions opened in New York (with Patrick Parrish and Jack Hanley Gallery) and one in Chicago with Volume Gallery. Parrish traveled to Miami’s South Beach with RO/LU’s show “Surfaces on Which Your Setting and Sitting Will Be Uncertain” and presented it alongside bespoke wallpaper, rug, clothing, and music as part of the inaugural Design Curio section of Design Miami/.

Alex Gilbert

Explore the rest of our 2014 highlights and find out what to look out for in 2015.

Artsy Editorial