by Sonal ShahNov 25, 2020
They are the masters of their craft, their work particularly valuable. Their creativity brings ideas to life. STIR speaks with some of the greatest icons of our times from the world of art, architecture, and design. All above the age of 70, they have pushed boundaries and their achievements are as remarkable as their journeys.
With careers spanning several decades, they have experienced sweeping changes in technology, communication and styles of living and working, and have embraced these with great aplomb.
Click to read these interviews that provide an in-depth insight into their amazing journeys, their working styles, their philosophies…
Recipient of the 1993 Pritzker Prize, the nonagenarian architect continues to conceptualise and actively engage in humanitarian design across the globe. Known for seamlessly blending Eastern and Western cultures, he has designed Tower 4 of the World Trade Centre in New York.
“My philosophy hasn’t changed (over the years). I have always focused on decency as a basic ethical principle, giving consideration to all users," says Maki.
At 99 he is still a prolific painter. Pioneer of the art scene in Singapore, Lim Peng is known for his “hu tu zi” style – an abstract form of calligraphy, blending character and subject, painting and calligraphy.
“To be a good artist you first need to be a good man. It is equally important to remember your roots and be well read. Know the world around you in order to create your art," mentions Peng.
Known for transforming spaces with the use of colours, patterns and textures, she is one of UK’s best-known textile designers. Tricia launched Designers Guild in 1970 to offer beautiful contemporary home products of quality, which today are distributed in over 80 markets worldwide.
“Inspiration is everywhere. One simply has to be open to interpreting it. New designers need determination, resilience, motivation creativity, and a focus on quality. Sustainability is another huge issue," shares Guild.
Inventor of an optical illusion reverspective or reverse perspective, his 3D sculptured paintings are surreal experience. Patrick’s geometrically constructed artworks are perplexing paradoxes, that enthrall visually and intellectually.
“It is my personal belief that emerging artists must not think of themselves, as they do, or of their audience, as they do, or of their audience, as they do, but of the disciplines of visual rhetoric and composition in its widest sense in order to reach a wider audience," says Hughes.
A recipient of the Jane Drew Prize 2020, she is the first woman architect from Pakistan and has designed several iconic structures. However, Yasmeen gave up commercial practice in 2000 to pursue heritage conservation and protect some of the Pakistan's historic treasures.
"Unless as architects we help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially in conventional concrete and steel construction, which consumes between 40-50 per cent of energy worldwide, we would continue to inflict untold damage to the planet," mentions Lari.
The queen of avant-garde fashion, Dame Zandra Lindsey Rhodes is a feisty 80-year-old British textile designer. Often been described as dramatic and flamboyant, her garments are at once timeless and totally unforgettable. The year 2019 marked five decades of her being in the industry, and the landmark was celebrated with a retrospective exhibition, 50 Years of Fabulous, at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London that she founded in 2003, and a book on her work published by Yale.
"Don’t give up! Find a way to design, but remember it’s very important to rethink. We must find a way to work with the ‘new normal’. We also need to be conscious of controlling waste. The survival of our earth is going to depend on all of us through various mediums creating and manufacturing and consuming responsibly," says Rhodes in her advice to young designers.
The 70-year-old legendary Israeli industrial designer, artist and architect, Ron Arad, is a creative maverick, design daredevil, and madly innovative. His offerings straddle many genres - from monuments to cars, chairs to hats and multiple things in between. Arad has designed for major international brands including Vitra, Kartell, Alessi, Cappellini, Swarovski and his public art works can be seen in Tokyo, London and Singapore amongst other locations.
"I am not methodical, always moving from one thing to another and doing many things together. I try to organise my day in my head but there are always some items that jump the queue and grab attention. I am convinced my lack of discipline and laziness actually makes me more prolific," says Arad while describing his typical workday.
Among the last of a generation of iconic Indian architects who began their practice at the dawn of independence, Influenced by the dreams of an emerging nation and steeped in Indian heritage, I M Kadri has strived to create a new language of architectural design for the nation through his works, modern yet uniquely Indian.
A significant number of his projects have been prestigious public and institutional spaces across the country and abroad, especially in Bombay, wherein his architecture grew to be definitive of the city in the 1960s through 80s. The venerated Indian architect celebrated his 92nd birthday on December 1, 2021.
Ray Meeker moved to Pondicherry, India, from Los Angeles in 1971 to co-found the Golden Bridge Pottery with Deborah Smith. An artist and educator, he has had a significant influence on an entire generation of contemporary ceramists of India. Five decades back, the Golden Bridge Pottery began as a 10’ x 20’ coconut leaf shed on an isolated wasteland, covered in thorn bushes that bordered the railway line to Villupuram.
“Ideas generally come in sequence, some variation on the previous piece or pieces. When I start a totally new direction I may sketch, or cut/reform previous works in Photoshop. If I really get stuck, I grab a chunk of clay and slap it around for a few minutes,” says Meeker on how he approaches a particular body of work.
Over the last 50 years, Dutch trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort has projected shifts not only for the fashion industry but for design and lifestyle, predicting form, materials, and colour along with important social and cultural currents. Of late, she has increasingly donned the mantle of an activist. In 2020, she, along with her business partner Phillip Fimmano started the World Hope Forum for a more equitable society.
"We feel there is hope and we can connect people and work to develop the world in a more humanistic, sustainable way," states Edelkoort
Over the last four decades French designer Philippe Starck has gone on to design buildings, hotels, prefabricated homes, yachts, wind turbines, furniture, bathroom accessories, kitchen gadgets, office stationery, eyewear, perfumes; producing prolifically across so many genres, mediums and materials. Now with his recent projects he has even breached the final frontier: space! Starck has now fashioned the microgravity space habitation module for crew quarters of the world’s first commercial space station.
"Space interests me greatly. People who have been in space have a different perspective. It's about how to create a new life without gravity, upside down. Everything is a new challenge," says Starck.
Catch more in the ongoing series with many more names coming up soon!