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Design revolutionaries: Fabien Baron, Mario Buatta, Santiago Calatrava, Joe D'urso, Jack Lenor Larsen, Martha Stewart, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Eva Zeisel and twenty-five other New Yorkers who designed the world we live in
New York. 40.38 (Oct. 29, 2007): p61+.
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GREAT DESIGN IS LIKE THE BILL OF RIGHTS. We get so used to having it around, we don't even think about it anymore. And as much as we might complain about what we don't like, much of New York is fantastically thought-out. Street signs, dinner china, perfume bottles, sofa fabrics; we forget that, at some point, someone put serious effort into making the mundane beautiful. Here, we pay tribute to nine New Yorkers who changed--and are still changing--the way we look at our world, from centenarian ceramist Eva Zeisel to graphic iconoclast Fabien Baron (who designed this page). It was a mighty struggle to narrow it down, of course, but our pages aren't infinite (this is a visual issue after all). We squeezed in 25 more luminaries who've also adjusted our collective lens.

EVA ZEISEL

HER COOL, SENSUAL MASS-PRODUCED CERAMICS ELEVATED THE HUMBLE DINNER PLATE AND MADE CENTURIES OF DISHES LOOK DULL.

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AT 100, EVA ZEISEL is not afraid of contradicting herself, especially on the question of timeliness. While she has long held that design represents its current moment, she cannot deny--nor does she want to--her own work's enormously enduring appeal. Her simple, fluid forms and sensual curves in everything from her tableware to tiles to glassware to furniture to rugs have identified her as one of the most innovative and influential designers of the twentieth century.

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Consider Museum White, her porcelain dinner service designed for Castleton China in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. The pieces are still both delicate and voluptuous, tableware where the tactile verges on the erotic. She describes her pieces as "happy to use, happy to handle."

Born in Budapest in 1906, Zeisel wanted to be a painter and took up pottery only to support that. But by 1924, she was a serious enough designer that she became the first woman in the potter's guild. Over the next fifteen years, she designed for mass production in Hungary, Germany, and Russia. Arriving in New York in 1938, she embarked on an absurdly prolific period. Her tubular steel and canvas chairs, glassware for Federal Glass, dinner services for Hall China and Castleton, bowls for Nambe, and porcelain vases for KleinReid are only a handful of what she has designed in the nearly 70 years since. She's still working--a coffee table at Design Within Reach, dinnerware at Royal Stafford, and rugs at the Rug Company are in production.

Though she has lived for decades on the Upper West Side, near Columbia, her design studio is an old, eclectically decorated Rockland County farmhouse. A vast living room accommodates everything from Chinese tapestries to hand-carved Elizabethan furniture to American block-print wallpaper. And in the studio upstairs, her grandparents' antique silver flatware lies alongside balsa prototypes she is developing.

Tuned in to the emotional attachments people may form with inanimate objects, Zeisel has always opted for expressiveness. Her work is designed, she says, "to be very friendly." The patterning for a wool rug has evolved from the repetition of a bellybutton motif; the lip of a porcelain plate has a voluptuous curl; and even at this early stage, a balsa fork has a warm elegance. "It is my way of approaching the world," Zeisel says. "I am a playful person."

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None of which is to say that design has always been a playful matter. In 1936, working at Dulevo, near Moscow, and recently appointed artistic director of the China and Glass Industry of Russia, she was falsely accused of plotting against Stalin's life, imprisoned, and put in solitary confinement for sixteen months. "I thought I was going to be shot," she says. "I kept designing in my mind to stay normal. Not to be crazy. It was a way to survive."

What she designed, it might be added, was a brassiere. Even under the most extreme circumstances, she never lost the urge to design--or her sense of humor.

--Akiko Busch

1 Design Reolutionaries

PROFESSION

Ceramist

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1945 to 1965

Photographs by MARK HEITHOFF

Zeisel, in Teapots:

Eight decades of perfecting the ordinary.

1928 to 1930 Platters, cup, and bowl, for Schramberger Majolica Fabrik (Germany).

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1933 to 1934 Teapot, for Dulevo Porcelain Factory (Russia).

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1943 Teapot ("The Museum Shape"), for Castleton China (United States).

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1957 Teapot ("Eva"), for Philip Rosenthal (Bavaria).

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1963 Teapot, creamer, and cup, for Noritake (Japan).

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1983 Pear sugar bowl with lid, for Zsolnay Factory (Hungary).

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THE VIGNELLIS

IN AN INSTANT, THEIR PARED-DOWN DESIGNS--FOR THE SUBWAY, BLOOMINGDALE'S, AMERICAN AIRLINES-CONJURE A PARTICULAR MOMENT IN THE CITY'S HISTORY.

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MASSIMO AND LELLA VIGNELLI have a saying: "If you can't find it, design it." And it's not just a saying. In the living room of their Upper East Side apartment--one of those old-fashioned grand studios with coffered ceilings and a twenty-foot leaded-glass window--almost everything of interest in sight is their own design, from the black leather chairs to the square steel worktable, the white porcelain coffee cups to Leila's sleek silver choker and Massimo's black cashmere Nehru shirt with the wire neck tab.

But it's one thing to customize your surroundings, quite another to have the kind of far-reaching impact these two Italian-born architect-designers have had over the past 30 years. They've created corporate identities for American Airlines, Bloomingdale's, Ford, and Knoll, and designed such everyday household products as Heller plastic-ware, Fodor's travel guides, and a version of the New York subway map. When he arrived in New York to work for the Vignellis in 1980, says Pentagram partner Michael Beirut, he was overwhelmed by their presence. "You couldn't travel around New York without encountering something by these two iconic, impossibly exotic characters."

As co-founder of Unimark International in 1965, Massimo established one of the earliest modern design-consultant firms devoted to the now-ubiquitous notion of creating across-the-board brand identities.

"The most remarkable thing is their consistency," says Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum London. "There's no sense of the passage of time. Their work is not trapped in a style."

The process is simple, says Massimo. "It's a matter of discipline, and it starts by looking at the problem and collecting all the available information about it. If you understand the problem, you have the solution. It's really more about logic than imagination." In designing the logo for Bloomingdale's, for instance, they knew they had to deal with a lot of circular shapes: o's, a B, a d. So they stripped the "feet" off the letters, and made curves the logo's main asset. They created the graphic language for the New York subway system in 1970 (it was unveiled in 1972), and while the black and white bars and brightly colored circles are still in place across the five boroughs, the accompanying map was in use for only five years. "So beautiful no one could understand it," says Sudjic. The Vignellis would like another crack at it (refer to photo opposite).

"If you do it right, it will last forever," says Leila. "It's as simple as that."

--Julie V. Iovine

2 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Graphic Designers

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

New York Subway Signs and Map

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PEAK

1965 to 1985

Photograph by DEAN KAUFMAN

1970 The New York subway maps still feature the Vignellis' colorful circles and black-and-white bars.

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1972 The curvy Bloomingdale's logo.

1964 A plastic Heller dinner set.

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1966 Oversize Stendig calendar.

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1967 Identity cards for American Airlines.

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1982 to 1987 Knoll stackable Handkerchief chairs.

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How to Use This Map

In 1972, personal computers didn't exist, so the Vignellis' mammoth subway project was done by hand. The project's binder is thick with actual-size lettering indicating with nth-degree precision how each letter and symbol was to be shaped. (The arrow's tip for exit signs is specified as four degrees.) The Vignelli MTA map is modeled on the London undergrounds, where train paths follow a precise grid and there is no reference to ground-level topography.

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The visual glory of the Vignelli map is its abstract simplicity: All lines bend at 45 or 90 degrees only. Every line has a color. Every stop is designated with a black dot. the corresponding negative of the colored circular signs on the actual platform.

As far as the Vignellis are concerned, they made two fatal mistakes: Central Park is a square, and the rivers are beige. "Since the trains run underground, there's no relationship to actual geography," Massimo Vignelli says. "But everyone knows Central Park is rectangular and that water is blue. And so if you put them as something different, you instantly lose credibility."

According to them, the current map is even more of a disaster, loaded with confusing information, tike the bubbles listing bus connections and topographical allusions. The couple wants another try at designing the map and to make it perfecd this time.

MARTHA STEWART

HOMEMAKING WAS A DREARY CHORE UNTIL SHE MADE IT AN ARTISANAL PURSUIT. AND BUILT AN EMPIRE.

ACCORDING TO MARTHA Stewart, here's how it all started.

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"I woke up one day, and this is true," says Stewart. It was 1981, and she was running a thriving catering business in Westport, Connecticut. "And it occurred to me that my grandchildren, if I had any one day, wouldn't have a clue who their grandma was. I made gorgeous food and threw gorgeous parties, and it was all eaten and disassembled when it was finished. So I thought, I should do a book and preserve the memories and recipes. That's when I had the idea."

The idea in question was small, by today's Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia multimillion-dollar-empire standards. She wanted to write a book called Entertaining. It would explain how to throw those beautiful parties.

"I had no idea how to do it, I just did it," Stewart says now. "Which is a good way to do something, since you have no preconceived notions." She sat down and wrote an outline. Since her then-husband, Andy, was the president of Harry N. Abrams, Stewart had already met Alan Mirken, the head of Crown Publishing. Mirken bought the idea for Crown's Clarkson Potter imprint. Stewart found a photographer and a writer to help her, but she did the lion's share of the work for Entertaining herself. She posed for the cover in a nineteenth-century French nightgown.

"I cooked every single one of those chickens," she says while perusing a picture of herself surrounded by beautiful, meticulously prepared dishes in the kitchen of Turkey Hill, her 1805 farmhouse in Westport Since 2002 she's been primarily in Bedford, but until this year she maintained Turkey Hill as well. "I grew those cabbages in my garden!" she says--in fact, there's a picture in Entertaining of Martha in denim hot pants going at the vegetables with a hoe.

Turkey Hill just sold for $6-7 million. One suspects it will end up on a historic-house tour, with its own little blue plaque: the birthplace of the LEGEND OF MARTHA STEWART.

About those detractors: "The feminists hated it!" says Stewart of Entertaining. "I'm not sure I ever really knew what the feminist movement was about. I never, ever heard the term glass ceiling until a few years ago--isn't that embarrassing?"

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It's hard to imagine the insanely sharp Stewart naive about anything. After the success of that first book, she wrote seven more books in that decade. In her recollection, she did almost everything for those as well. "I never felt like I was in over my head--ever," she says. "I just don't feel that way. I never feel that the bridge is too high to jump off of."

There's a promotional video she made for Aga, the very low-tech cult British stoves, circa 1985, now on YouTube. It's charmingly low budget and an exemplar of her energy and DIY extremism--she pulls an entire Thanksgiving dinner out of the Aga. "They paid me with a stove" she recalls.

"Daunted" is not in Stewart's vocabulary, nor is "tired." After serving her five-month jail sentence for obstruction of justice, her stock plummeted. In a rare misstep, her version of The Apprentice didn't take. But no matter. Currently, her magazines are briskly gaining ad pages, and her NBC daytime show is a hit, with celebrities like Russell Crowe and Valentino as guests. And she comes home to this 150-acre Bedford estate, with its myriad outbuildings, including a huge greenhouse and stone stables that should make new neighbor Ralph Lauren jealous, and a host of employees (the newest is her personal French chef, Pierre Schaedelin). Stewart is furiously launching, launching, launching. There's her book on homemaking, and she's toying with the idea of updating Entertaining. She designs co-branded communities with KB Home, a home-construction company. She's got a range of wines, a line of food products at Costco, and a mammoth 2,000-item series of housewares for Macy's that at least matches the 1997 launch of her Kmart line. You might want to hang on to those back issues of Martha Stewart Living: When the revolution comes, they're going to come in handy.--David Colman

3 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Homemaker, Media Mogul

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1932 to Present

Photographs by DERRY MOORE

Martha in Our Lives

From one little book to an empire of TV shows, magazines, and paper-bag puppets.

1960s A bathing-suit shot from Stewart's modeling days.

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1982 Entertaining, the first of many books on a lifestyle more beautiful.

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1991 Martha, monthly: the first issue of Living.

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1994 And now for brides: Weddings magazine (this cake is from the fall 2007 issue).

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1997 Martha by Mail, a catalogue of Stewart-endorsed and-designed products, arrives in mailboxes.

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1997 Stewart's program with Kmart includes high-quality towels and bedding; it explodes.

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2005 Martha, daily: Her morning show with NBC has celebrities like Russell Crowe, cooking.

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2007 From her Martha Stewart Crafts line, the snappiest paper-bag puppets ever.

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2007 An even more massive home-product program with Macy's launches nationwide.

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FABIEN BARON

THE POLYMATH HAS DESIGNED ADVERTISING, PERFUME BOTTLES, MAGAZINES, AND EVERYTHING YOU SEE ON THIS PAGE.

SEX and design, not that long ago, were total strangers--at least in magazines. You could have sex and fashion, as Helmut Newton had memorably proved in Vogue, and you could have fashion and design, as Alexey Brodovitch, Harper's Bazaar's legendary art director from 1934 to 1958, had shown. But Fabien Baron's remarkable 1992 redesign of Bazaar, under editor Liz Tilberis, brought them together under one elegant, sensuous roof. Baron also introduced art-world and European photographers (Mario Testino, David Sims, Cindy Sherman, Craig McDean, Mario Sorrenti, Raymond Meier, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Inez van Lamsweerde, and Vinoodh Matadin) to the fashion world for the first time, permanently altering our perception of what a fashion photographer does.

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That redesign is still a benchmark in the magazine world, but it's hardly Baron's sole claim to fame. Some other iconic achievements include his design of the cK One perfume bottle, one of the quintessential products of the nineties; his vision for ad campaigns for Burberry, Hugo Boss, Asprey, Balenciaga, Prada, and Armani; his ongoing work at French Vogue as creative director under editor Carine Roitfeld; his furniture designs for Cappellini and Bern-hardt; and the list goes on.

But even the man who designed Madonna's Sex book looks amused when it's suggested that he instigated the design-sex partnership. "It's probably because I'm French," says Baron, sitting in the serene yet decadent Soho loft where he's lived for the past eight years with his wife, Malin, and their daughter Eva, the youngest of his three children. "Sexuality in Europe is much more open than it is here," he says. "Here, it's such a hypocritical society. I mean, Clinton gets impeached for a blow job, while Bush creates a war that kills thousands of people, and that's fine."

His politics sound typically French, but Baron has felt the wrath of the right personally; he was investigated by the FBI for the infamous 1995 Calvin Klein Jeans campaign that featured young models lolling in what looked like suburban basements. Critics likened it to child pornography. "That was a huge scandal," he recalls. "It was a bit too much--we didn't do anything bad." The models were all legal and the shoot was completely aboveboard, but the campaign was so transgressively suggestive that people were, in effect, seduced into outrage.

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It was classic Baron, a man for whom sex and suggestion are one and the same, and who finds porn itself "very cold."

"It's so mechanical--it's not very exciting," he says. "What's sexy is what you see in your imagination. It's not the dress; it's what you imagine behind the dress. You have to create desire, envy. That's what we do when we sell fragrance and fashion and magazines."

Baron grew up in Paris, the son of a magazine art director. He came to New York at 23; his first magazine job was at GQ, in 1982, where Bruce Weber was making his name. By the late eighties, he was multitasking prodigiously, producing Barneys' famous ads with Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell, and working on Franca Sozzani's Italian Vogue and Ingrid Sischy's Interview, all at the same time. By 1992, when he landed at Bazaar, he was a ubiquitous design star.

And a new kind of star at that: a "creative director," which in short order became the most-sought-after (and then cliched) title of the nineties.

"I was the first person to have that title," he says. "I didn't want to be just the art director!"--David Colman

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4 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Creative Director

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1990 to Present

Photographs by MARK HEITHOFF

Fabien Baron

A career built on provocation.

1990 Madonna on the cover of Interview, under Fabien Baron's direction.

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1993 One of his controversial campaigns for Calvin Klein.

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1994 His iconic cK One bottle design.

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2001 Justin Timberlake on the cover of Arena Homme Plus.

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2003 Baron put Catherine Deneuve on the cover of French Vogue.

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JACK LENOR LARSEN

MASTER WEAVER AND CULTURAL OMNIVORE, HE BROUGHT WARMTH TO MODERNISM'S GLASSY SURFACE.

TODAY, NO ONE BLINKS twice when Dries Van Noten trots cross-dyed ikat down the runway or an upscale fabric house unveils its latest African-inspired pattern. In this postmodern, polyglot, politically conscious era, it's hard to recall a time when ethnic design influences even seemed novel. That mind-set owes a huge debt to the visionary weaver Jack Lenor Larsen. His enlightened approach toward craft traditions resulted in avant-garde fabrics that both defined modern textiles and gave credit to its ethnographic sources.

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It all started humbly enough. "Fifty years ago, modern fabrics weren't readily available," says Larsen, in his small, chic Manhattan apartment. After getting an M.F.A. from Cranbrook, Larsen started his eponymous firm in New York in 1952 because the company he wanted to work for--Knoll--wouldn't hire him. "Mrs. Knoll decided I was too individual to fit in her mold," he says, chuckling. But he was quickly successful. "Marcel Breuer liked my handwoven textiles, so he started using them. All the larger firms looked to see what Marcel was doing, and one thing led to another."

Soon, he was collaborating with artisans across the globe to make sophisticated fabrics that retained a hand-spun, handwoven appearance and had clients like Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Larabee Barnes, and Gordon Bunshaft, who commissioned him to weave gilded linen curtains for Lever House. Larsen also designed beautiful but durable fabrics for Braniff and Pan Am jets, as well as the interiors of performance spaces like the one at Wolf Trap in Virginia.

Larsen was also something of a cultural attache. "Under the aegis of the U.S. State Department, I worked throughout Southeast Asia in the late fifties to help Taiwan and Vietnam achieve exports and jobs," he recalls. "I was invited to Haiti, Morocco, and Colombia and, ultimately, some 90 countries." While globe-trotting in the name of cultural promotion, Larsen amassed a mind-blowing collection of textiles, embroideries, and crewelwork, which served as inspiration for his own designs; many are housed at LongHouse Reserve, Larsen's legendarily quirky Hamptons house (its famous gardens are open to the public).

Even though he's identified with the spare, cool aesthetic of mid-century modern, Larsen is a believer in softness. "Hard-core modernists tried to be without luxury," he says. "But a lot of luxuries were quite beautiful, or useful, or pleasant. Being practical is good, but it's not all of life."--Jennifer Renzi

5 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Textile Designer

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1960 to 1980

Photograph by LEVI BROWN

JOE D'URSO

WITH CHROME, GLASS, LEATHER, RUBBER, AND INDUSTRIAL SUPPLIES, HE DEFINED THE HIGH-TECH LOOK OF THE LOFT.

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GLOSSY WHITE WALLS adorned with little more than an occasional black-and-white photograph. Built-in plywood platforms covered in charcoal-gray industrial carpeting and decked out with pillows. Track lighting on the ceiling, black rubber Pirelli tile on the floor, white vertical blinds rustling in the windows. And a mechanically rotating cleaner's rack in the closet.

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This was the mid-seventies, when the industrial, high-tech look was ascendant and Joe D'Urso was its chrome-plated agent. One of his first projects, a cool, gleaming studio apartment for 19-year-old shoe-store heir Reed Evins, landed on the cover of Interior Design and got him Calvin Klein as a client. "It was the first really minimalist space," says D'Urso, who'd just quit working with modernist Ward Bennett to strike out on his own.

There were those long, low platforms ("Everyone hung out on the floor," recalls D'Urso), vertical blinds to hide the bed, a Corbusier chaise, a long table with a stainless-steel edge and a reflective black rubber top, and a metal meat-market door leading into the kitchen.

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Everyone who saw it wanted to throw out everything they had and hire D'Urso. Wire-and-glass coffee tables, hospital-curtain tracks, restaurant stoves, exposed ductwork, doctors' sinks, security mirrors, marine hardware, gym lockers, and cyclone fencing: Those were the materials that D'Urso brought into the New York living space called the loft.

Back then, D'Urso explains, "Everything was fake wood, appliances were hideous, and there was little to work with in terms of products and furniture." So he looked for things that were more engineered than styled. "If you wanted to put flowers in a vase, you had a choice between a clunky Steuben vase or a piece of laboratory glass. It was a way of thinking more about functionality instead of sentimentality."

Now 64, D'Urso is proud of his trailblazing but reluctant to be pigeonholed as Joe High-Tech. He's a passionate fan of color, which he keeps in tightly focused spots, and he likes vintage design that's not chrome-plated, from Charles Rennie Macintosh to Florence Knoll to French ceramics from the fifties by artists like Roger Capron.

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D'Urso's life is less hectic now, and he's somewhat of a recluse, more likely to dodge a phone call than take it--a far cry from the early eighties, when he had clients like the mammoth sportswear company Esprit (he did its Los Angeles corporate showroom). The projects he still takes on, like the New Jersey waterfront apartment shown here, have the hallmarks of his early passions. He still likes everything low to the ground, plain but luxurious, and inclusive despite its minimalist airs. This is a man whose idea of beauty can be equally satisfied by a pristine black-tiled bathroom or a massive blooming geranium plant.

"I put it together like a collage," he swears. "I don't have any preconceived ideas."

--Suzanne Slesin

6 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Interior Designer

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1970 to 1985

Photograph by MARK HEITHOFF

MARIO BUATTA

HE REMADE ENGLISH TRADITIONALISM FOR PARK AVENUE--AND NOW, FOR DOWNTOWN.

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ONE MORNING LATE last month, the 71-year-old decorator Mario Buatta sat in the audience at a lecture given by a Domino editor. He listened as she chronicled the rise, fall, and resurgence of chintz, the floral fabric with which Buatta is closely identified. (He has been referred to, both affectionately and derisively, as "the prince of chintz" ever since TV reporter Chauncey Howell gave him the sobriquet in 1984 after seeing a show-house bedroom Buatta had festooned with the stuff.) Listening to the editor talk, Buatta was perplexed. "I thought, What is she talking about, chintz coming back?" he says. "I didn't know it had gone anywhere."

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Although his bafflement is something of a pose, it nevertheless provides context: Buatta has been upholstering armchairs and ottomans in undulating peonies and cabbage roses for people with surnames like Cushing, Pratt, and Newhouse since he started his firm in 1963. His taste for the fabric--and English traditional decor in general--dates from childhood, when, in a classic scenario, he longed for timeworn settees and needlepoint rugs while growing up in his parents' very modern, very clutter-free Staten Island home. "Everything was contemporary. For them, anything old was just second-hand," he says.

But Buatta, whether he admits it or not, has seen his share of pendulum swings. He endured the mod sixties and the mirror-and-velvet seventies. Then he hit his glory years during the Reagan era, when an unprecedented amount of cash flowed into the city, and once-fusty trappings--the bows, ruffles, and tufted love seats of Buatta's trade--were co-opted by women in taffeta Lacroix bubble skirts with block-long Park Avenue apartments to fill. They were members of nouvelle society who courted the press through lavish parties and found Buatta's way with English traditionalism perfect. "New money was pouring in, many of those people wanted an old-money look, and Mario was there," says Architectural Digest editor-in-chief Paige Rense.

By the early nineties, Buatta had attained a level of fame unheard-of for a decorator. Before HGTV and Design Star, Buatta was a household name: His charity show-house rooms were published in House & Garden and House Beautiful, and he appeared on the cover of now-defunct business mag Manhattan, Inc. wearing a chintz suit. He parlayed his name recognition into licenses for lamps, furniture, teddy bears, and potpourri.

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"He was the eighties' alpha decorator," says Rense. "People had been afraid of decorators, but Mario was warm and democratic--he teases billionaires--so his clients felt comfortable."

Underlying that personality is a talent Rense says infuses English tradition with an American sensibility: "His antecedents are the great English classicists Colefax and Fowler," the British design firm, founded in the thirties, that epitomized blue-blood decor. But Buatta makes that heritage casual and livable. "People used to put tape on their coffee tables for the housekeeper, to mark where the books should go after dusting," she says. "Mario got rid of the tape." He is also deft with color. "His palette is the crux of it. Everything blends," says Rense.

Today, in a climate in which eclectic is the design fixation of the day and a form-follows-function ethos is applied to vacuum cleaners and teapots, Buatta's body of work, with its tassels, trims, and dog portraits, can seem anachronistic. But some 44 years after setting up shop, Buatta is still busy six or seven days a week, with clients like Mariah Carey calling his cell phone (he has no assistant and keeps his calendar on a sheet of legal paper that he updates each Sunday night). Sometimes, the pendulum doesn't matter.--Mario Lopez-Cordero

7 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Interior Designer

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1980 to 1995

Photographs by DERRY MOORE

MARIO BUATTA

FROM SCRATCH

For each major project--like this grand living room of a 57th Street penthouse--Mario Buatta makes a detailed drawing on plain white paper and staples fabric, tassel, and trim samples to cardboard to see colors and textures together. Analog, yes, but it's a document of the room, so that years later, when the sofa needs re-covering, he can find the fabric at a glance.

RULE 1

FABRIC

"I don't use that much chintz in the city," says Buatta. "Silk taffeta feels much more sumptuous, especially in an apartment like this that feels more formal."

RULE 2

BRIC-A-BRAC

"You always have an odd number of things on a table," says Buatta. "Never even numbers. It's like flowers in a vase--you want three, five, seven, nine. Even numbers look calculated." And don't count the lamp. "A lamp is not an accessory."

RULE 3

PATTERN

"I don't want a room to look like it was done overnight; I want it to look like it evolved," says Buatta. Thus, clashing patterns reflect a client's changing tastes. "You take one print in this size and one in that, put a check against a floral, put that against a stripe, and play with them till you get a pleasing balance of color ... The most interesting rooms look like someone with personality created them."

SANTIAGO CALATRAVA

WHETHER THEY'RE BUILT OR NOT (AND AT LEAST ONE WILL BE), HIS DESIGNS IMAGINE OUR CITY IN GLORIOUSLY EXUBERANT TERMS.

ONE DAY, WHEN Santiago Calatrava's skeletal, birdlike train station, with its oval body, white steel ribs, and raised wings, finally materializes into the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the rest of lower Manhattan will come to seem blocky and stolid. Perhaps by then the gods of real estate will have willed into construction the magnificently fragile-looking high-rise that Calatrava has designed for 80 South Street--a stack of four-story townhouses clinging to a central core like monkeys on a bamboo rod. And maybe, just maybe, the architect will have moved closer to his fantasy of festooning New York's public-transit system with gorgeous stations capable of galvanizing the neighborhoods around them.

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"I've seen completely lost and abandoned sites, such as an obsolete oil refinery in Lisbon, become some of the most elegant areas of a city," he says. He imagines urbane centers springing up around beautiful junctions in Jamaica and Hoboken, New Jersey, and a place he calls "New Jersey City."

The Spain native Calatrava, who was trained as both architect and engineer and also makes sculptures and drawings, brings structural daring and metaphoric flamboyance to a city that does not generally trust extravagance in architecture. So for now, Calatrava's New York remains an imaginary town, though a glance around the world makes it easy to be optimistic about the work he could do in his adopted city. In Seville, he threw a harplike bridge across the Guadalquivir River, which prompts dreams of another Hudson River crossing (a project he recognizes would be bad for Manhattan traffic). His first American project, an addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum that opened in 2001, is a wild flourish of a structure that resembles both ship and whale, as if illustrating the final battle in Moby-Dick. In Chicago, he is building a slender apartment tower that will eventually corkscrew 2,000 feet into the air: "We're a long way from having exhausted the possibilities of the skyscraper!" he says.

These joyously kinetic forms have a way of seducing both traditionalists and novelty-seekers, because even as they plunge into the thrills of extreme engineering, they recall the bleached remnants of antiquity. His slung bridges and swooping stations embrace the modern mythology of speed, but they also have the weirdly organic look of prehistoric beasts.

For a man who spends his time inventing such bony, dancing forms, Calatrava has installed himself in an oddly staid patch of Park Avenue, surrounded by polished stone. With its reverberant, sparsely furnished halls, the townhouse where he maintains his studio (next door to the townhouse where he lives) exudes a slightly imperial atmosphere. The only soft thing around is Tiberius, the architect's impeccably designed golden retriever, who lies, quietly shedding, on the marble floor. Calatrava opened this New York office last year, three years after moving his family here--from Zurich, which helps explain why to him even Park Avenue feels like a hotbed of creative ferment.

When his thoughts turn to 80 South Street, his expression grows wistful. "I hope it will get built," he muses. Rising above the East River, within sight of the financial district and the Brooklyn Bridge, the building would be a Whitmanesque affirmation of New York optimism. Calatrava has been speaking for an hour in intricately wrought Castilian, but here he switches into hortative English. This is what his tower would prove: "You can go beyond!"--Justin Davidson

8 Design Revolutionaries

PROFESSION

Architect

ESSENTIAL DESIGN

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PEAK

1990 to Future

Photograph by CHRISTIAN WITKIN

AND

WE COULD HAVE FILLED 1,000 PAGES WITH NEW YORK'S LIVING DESIGN INNOVATORS, BUT THERE ARE SPACE LIMITS. HERE, IN BRIEF, ANOTHER 25 CRUCIAL NAMES.

George Beylerian

Beylerian founded Material ConneXion, a research library that helps innovators meet designers. The result: Steelcase's new office chair, Nike's new sneaker, and so on.

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Ivan Chermayeff

The logomeister: NBC, Mobil, PBS, MoMA, Chase Manhattan Bank, Showtime, and Barneys New York, among others, owe Chermayeff & Geismar their instant recognition.

Richard Gluckman

With his many stark, clean galleries--Dia on 22nd Street, Larry Gagosian's old Wooster Street space--Gluckman set the white-box stage for the theater that is today's art world.

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Albert Hadley

For decades, Hadley, the hands-down master of quiet, blue-blooded elegance (Brooke Astor's famed library), has done more than any other designer to codify the elusive quality of good taste.

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Richard Meier

With his design for the relentlessly hyped Perry Street towers, Ur-starchitect Meier turned New Yorkers' realestate desires from prewar to modern day.

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Murray Moss

He found obscure, sometimes incomprehensible, expensive European designers, displayed them with "please do not touch" signs, and created a craving we didn't know we had.

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Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

Rogers was the first president of the privately funded Central Park Conservancy. It rescued the park from deep neglect and created a template for similar projects.

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Barbara Sallick

The Waterworks co-founder made bathrooms just as luxurious and design-rich as any other room of the house.

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Robin Wagner

His black-box designs for A Chorus Line (1975) and Dreamgirls (1981) (done with director Michael Bennett) brought cinema drama and Off Broadway rawness to Broadway.

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Bruce Weber

In his 30-plus years shooting graphically masculine images for GQ, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Versace, and Abercrombie & Fitch, Weber made men as erotically charged as women.

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Giorgio DeLuca and Jack Ceglic

The two remaining founders of Dean & DeLuca (Joel Dean died in 2004), the food retailer whose fetishization of exorbitantly priced, jewel-like produce ignited the foodie trend.

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Francis Fleetwood

Architect Fleetwood built mansion-size "cottages" for new Hamptons money, and helped turn shingle-siding and the pursuit of "authentic" grandeur into national housing trends.

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Margot Gayle

A tireless foe of Robert Moses's plan to pave through Soho, historian Gayle helped save castiron architecture; loft districts in cities everywhere can thank her.

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Marc Jacobs

He recognizes that his customers craved the wit and personality of vintage clothes but wanted them done in eight-ply cashmere and kid leather.

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Knopf Book Design Department

Since the late eighties, the book designers at Alfred A. Knopf (Chip Kidd among them) brought jacket design back from the grave and made books desirable objects again.

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Ralph Lauren

Lauren's persuasive, romantic, multi-billion-dollar vision of America that's consistent across every polo shirt, perfectly aged quilt, and cologne that bears his name.

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Irving Penn

His fifties Vogue covers are legendary, but it's Penn's lush still lifes that have made us see beauty even in cigarette butts.

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Gaetano Pesce

While other designers were pushing crisp and clean, Pesce embraced gloppy, messy shapes made from toxic-colored plastics and resins long before anyone imagined ugly could be beautiful.

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Karim Rashid

One of the few designers who delivers on the high-design at a low-price promise; see his ubiquitous aerodynamic translucent-plastic wastepaper basket.

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Ian Schrager

A kind of latter-day urban-design patron, he saw early on that high design could transform even the most mundane space, and make it cool to hang out in a hotel lobby.

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Robert A.M. Stern

His scholarly, accessible architectural history instigated a new kind of appreciation for old New York.

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Tucker Viemeister

As one of the founders of Smart Design, Viemeister brought real design and real function together with OXO's Good Grips line of housewares.

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Andrea Woodner

Her Design Trust for Public Space advocates for green-building guidelines and novel urban-renewal projects (thank her for the High Line).

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Deborah Wright

Now president of Carver Bancorp, Wright created a unique fund that started Harlem's decrepit institutions renovating and helped the neighborhood restore itself in the process.

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James Zemaitis

Zemaitis jump-started the 20th-century-design department at Phillips de Pury in 2001, then did the same for Sotheby's; there, he's fueled mid-century design's skyrocketing prices and status.

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9 Design Revolutionaries

By DAVID COLMAN

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
Colman, David. "Design revolutionaries: Fabien Baron, Mario Buatta, Santiago Calatrava, Joe D'urso, Jack Lenor Larsen, Martha Stewart, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Eva Zeisel and twenty-five other New Yorkers who designed the world we live in." New York, 29 Oct. 2007, p. 61+. Expanded Academic ASAP, http%3A%2F%2Flink.galegroup.com%2Fapps%2Fdoc%2FA171214572%2FEAIM%3Fu%3Ducinc_main%26sid%3DEAIM%26xid%3D704bb31d. Accessed 17 Nov. 2018.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A171214572