Designers can see where the world is going and how people will want to live in it. They are willing to be criticized by the mainstream because they know that eventually the mainstream will come their way. Take Charles and Ray Eames. At first seen as eccentrics, the couple made simple chairs from molded plywood that are basics today (as well as their other furniture that defines stylish modernism). They embraced mid-century design as an agent of social change.

Frank Lloyd Wright did the same thing, urging Americans to accept natural forms as seen in Asian design. The ability to do the work that makes a vision real is what drives them to use the right sides of their brains, drafting objects, clothing, and buildings.

Coco Chanel, for instance, knew that women in Edwardian times were ready to get out of their lace and corsets and into the office (and the sunshine and playing fields) to lead more vigorous lives. So she pared down the essence of women’s clothing to a durable classic suit made of wool jersey that dragged fashion into the 20th century and coincided with suffrage and liberation.

Fashion, of course, has exploded in influence in the 21st century, with designers like Jil Sander and Helmut Lang working with high-tech fabrics in innovative ways; Miuccia Prada daring women to reframe their definitions of beauty and sensuality; and Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Donna Karan, and Victoria Beckham lending their vision of what it means to be a contemporary working woman with great style.

Other Examples
Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, Norma Kamali, Jason Wu, Zac Posen, Azzedine Alaïa, Tomas Maier, Hedi Slimane, Raf Simons, Marc Jacobs

Designers dress well, often in attractively pared-down ways; and they surround their homes and offices with objects that titillate and inspire. 

Often elitist and unaccepting of what is “mass,” designers can be snobs who shun things they’re already on to the next idea.

Art, dance, decorating, shopping, gourmet cuisine, travel, and reading about new ideas in every field


“I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” -Ralph Lauren

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