Meet the Makers: The Best Interviews of 2023

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Piero Lissoni. Photography Credit: ©Veronica Gaido

When an innovative new design lands on the scene it can feel a bit like magic, but great design doesn’t just happen at the snap of a finger, fully realized, in a plume of smoke. From the drawing board to installation–and all the challenges and triumphs in between–it is the designers and makers who ultimately author the origin stories and inspiration behind the objects we live with.  

This year, we interviewed over a dozen leading designers and makers to discover their creation processes first-hand. Along the way, we learned their inspirations, pet peeves, and the family histories behind their design careers.  

Read on for our favorite interviews of 2023. 

Piero Lissoni Has Some Thoughts on Form Versus Function  

From designing modern marvels like Beijing’s Shougang Park to sleek minimalistic furniture, Piero Lissoni defies stereotypes – and limits – in his work. According to the man whose designs are everywhere, he would rather not speak about form and function.  

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Thabisa Mjo on Melding Technology with Traditional Crafts and Building a Design Business in South Africa  

One of Africa’s top design talents, Thabisa Mjo deftly fuses traditional African fabrics and traditions into thoroughly modern pieces. Her unique vantage point is captivating the world while simultaneously sustaining local South African communities.  

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Heller is Leading Modern Design into the Modern Era with a New CEO, New Designs and NFTs  

A tour de force since its inception in 1971, Heller continues to push the limits of design with its avant-garde offerings and NFTs. Now led by former Design Within Reach stalwart John Edelman, this boundary-pushing house isn’t slowing down.   

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Martine Bedin: Founding Member of the Memphis Group  

Instantly recognizable and unapologetically bold, Memphis Group designs have inspired originality for over 40 years. Martine Bedin, one of the group’s founding members and legendary designers, shares wha’s kept Memphis perpetually attractive as other trendy design motifs have come and gone.  

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Foscarini’s Carlo Urbinati Finds the Key to Success is Freedom  

Defined by their seemingly boundless range of materials and styles, Foscarini designs defy easy categorization and inspire wonder instead. By collaborating with a similarly diverse group of designers, President Carlo Urbinati continues to keep Foscarini ahead of the proverbial curve.   

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The Creative Craftsmanship of Nani Marquina  

Textile design powerhouse Nani Marquina believes in craftsmanship above all else. Today, her rich carpets display a devotion to artisanal techniques and timeless style in equal measure.  

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Lucie Koldova: Bohemian Rhapsody in Glass   

Brokis remains a beloved design firm for its clean, modern aesthetic and incredible glassworks, and it’s no surprise with art director Lucie Koldova at the helm. Koldova’s singular approach to combining artisanal techniques with a modern edge is a winning strategy that’s pushed the Czech brand to the forefront. 

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From Leaf to Light: Rosie Li Studio  

Combining sculpture, geometry, and paper, Rosie Li’s custom lighting fixtures are breathtaking. Inspired by natural elements like pebbles and leaves yet crafted from a mix of traditional and novel media, Rosie Li brings an art-forward perspective to lighting our lives.  

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The Utopia of Reality: Q+A with Paolo Rizzatto  

Luceplan veteran Paolo Rizzatto takes an all-encompassing approach to design by focusing on understanding obstacles. It’s a philosophical approach that’s led to gravity-defying designs and a one-of-a-kind legacy.  

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Barovier&Toso: Over 700 Years of Italian Design Tradition  

For over 700 years, the master artisans behind Barovier&Toso have transformed the possibilities of glass. From creating transparent, unleaded crystal to spearheading the movement for glass as an art form, their persistence and expertise remains unmatched.  

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Designer Sportsmanship: A Q+A with Marc Sadler    

“Light is a concept, a state of mind and a tool.” That’s what design marvel Marc Sadler told us, and we haven’t looked at a single lamp the same way since. With expertise across industries, Sadler brings an innovative approach to his work that we simply can’t resist.  

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On Matière Première: Samuel Lambert of Lambert & Fils  

Samuel Lambert is obsessed with materials: From each design’s inception to its final installation, honoring the raw material is crucial to his entire team at Lambert et Fils. Coupled with his devotion to making things by hand, Lambert’s designs – and design process – are captivating.  

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Best in Glass: The Heritage and Innovation of Vistosi  

With roots dating to the 16th century, it goes without saying that Vitosi embraces tradition in glassmaking. But combining ancient mouthblown techniques with modernity – the current team’s specialty – keeps us coming back to Vitosi designs on repeat.  

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Q+A with Federico Palazzari, CEO of Nemo  

Lawyer-gone-designer Federico Palazzari brings an unconventional approach to Nemo, his far-reaching design studio. Recently named one of the “Best Managed Companies” in the world by DeLoitte, Nemo and Palazzari are redefining what it means to work in design – crafting everything from lamps to large-scale theater light plans.  

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