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Blog

Love Notes to Our Design Heroes

Feb 13 2018

Do you remember when you first fell for design? The moment you discovered someone whose work sang to you, moved you, sent you skipping down a creative path? In these love notes, the bleeding-hearts of IDEO declare their love for the artists, writers, and designers who showed them the way.

Dear Maira Kalman,

I have to admit, it was Tibor who brought us together. Him and his flair, and boldness, passion and humor. But you—YOU! You were the words and the drawings and the insights. A creative mess of things I found in contrast to my young orderly graphic design mind, yet loved and admired and wanted every bit of.

In 1999, I saw you at the SFMoMA talking about your beloved husband when Tiborcity was on exhibit. I was sitting next to the person I didn't know would become my own beloved husband. You became part of our lives together—extending to our children. When our 3-year-old daughter recited the full story of Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman from memory as we flipped through each page, we knew we had done something right.

Yours in missing our beloveds,
Jen Panasik

Portraits in Creativity: Maira Kalman


Dear Buckminster Fuller,

From the moment I first read you, I fell under the spell of a man who couldn’t be contained by a dictionary. LivingryTensegrityDymaxion. Big ideas packed into beautiful words. Then again, you said to never think about beauty whilst working on a problem. I'd simply know the solution is wrong if its not beautiful in some way. 

Oh Bucky, Spaceship Earth needs you now more than ever. 

P.S. Can I leave my toothbrush at your geodesic dome?

Chris Nyffeler


Dear Janet Champ,

I was just a few years out of college when your "If You Let Me Play" Nike campaign came out, and it rocked my world. Here was this gorgeous feminist rallying cry: It wasn't on a flyer at the natural foods store, and it wasn't on a poster at a protest march. It was on national TV, with a big ol' Nike swoosh at the end. I remember thinking, "Whoa. You can have a paying job AND change the world. That's badass." And I promptly became a writer.

With great affection and respect,
Jenn Maer


Dear Syd Mead,

I'm writing to thank your for the countless hours I spent in my youth immersed in the details and possibilities of your future visions. Your inspirational and sometimes cautionary depiction of future artifacts, cities, and cultures inspired me to design optimistically towards a better tomorrow. Thank you for helping enrich and enlarge our dreams of what lies beyond the horizon and for pulling humanity forward.

Best,
Danny Stillion

Visual Futurist: Syd Mead


Dear David Kelley,

You taught me that even the most simple acts can communicate thought, intention, and creativity. Who knew gift wrapping could be an act of self-expression and creativity, or that you could say "no" to someone and still leave them feeling good about the exchange?

You taught me it's all about the nuance, and the details. That with as much care and thought applied to the moments in between, that you can have a lasting impact on someone's day.

In an world of design full of black and grey, you encouraged me to bring the color.

Sally Sosa


Dear Vaughan Oliver

I first met you through the Pixies. I don’t know if it was the big hairy back, geometrically augmented monkey, or the bowl of sheep eyes, but you had me hooked. And who uses script type like that!?!! When I first met you, I expected a severe, dark personality in an equally severe, dark dress. But who I met was a clever, happy, normal guy with an incredible eye for the unusual and a penchant for good stories. Because of you, I still own an unusual number of 4AD CDs, whether I like the music or not. And I usually do.

Michael Hendrix

Vaughan Oliver Pixies

Image by Simon Larbalestier

Pixies Covers by Vaughan Oliver


Dear Aleksandr Rodchenko,

Thank you for teaching me that typography matters. That, with the right size and placement, words on a page can punch you in the face. That might be the most powerful design lesson I ever learned, and something I’ll never be done learning.

Still stunned,
Joe Brown


Dear Jackie and Lloyd,

It was summer of 2007, London Design Week, and my feet were pounding from covering miles and miles of "best of the best design." 
Everything is starting to look the same. My eyes glazed over. "Get me out of here!"

On my way to exiting this hell I stumble across a sanctuary. "Take a deep breath..." 

Actually, it took my breath away. 

Organic sinuous lines, the color so elegant, I still remember that egg-shell blue on the Malvern sofa. But what made the most lasting impression was the two women designers standing before me—as if I was looking at a future self.

Flash forward 11 years, you two continue to inspire me by pushing the craft in furniture design, to bridge the gap between design cultures at We Present, and to help others be successful. 

Thank you for showing me the way. 

I still dream of an internship, maybe one day...

Yuni Lee

Jackie Choi Eye Chair

Image by wepresent.london

Eye Chair by Jackie Choi


Dear Marcel Wanders,

You were the designer that I literally wanted to be when I was in school. From your early work with Droog to your radical experiments with materials, to the fantastic stories you create through spaces and objects today. Your work couldn't be more different from what I do as a designer—and I relish that you live way out there on the edge of art and design to remind me of the limits of sound strategy and argued rationales, and to remind us all of the importance of beauty and love and intuition. More recently, we've had the chance to meet, work together, and become friends. I am better at what I do by being challenged by what you do.

Clark Scheffy

Marcel Wanders Andaz Amsterdam

Image by marcelwanders.com

Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht by Marcel Wanders

  • Christine Hendrickson

    Director of Brand Strategy
    Christine manages the global brand for this big little design company and believes the best marketing is an act of creativity.

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