As Americans, our contributions to the creative world are rarely paralleled. We represent influences from around the globe, blended from our varied cultural heritage into one common voice. From the automobile to the pc, the mark of American ingenuity has global reach, and the next create spark could be taking shape today. These 9 modern designs represent some of the greatest recent works of American design culture, from our great modern architecture to the farm of the future.
American Modern: Marmol Radziner Architecture
While it’s impossible to exemplify the full volume of American modern architecture by choosing one firm, an ideal representation of the form would be Marmol Radziner Architecture. For over 20 years, architects Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner have collaborated on some of the most exquisite works of contemporary architecture in a variety of applications. From residential architecture, like the home of Ron Radziner himself shown here, to commercial and community architecture projects in the United States and beyond. The history of American architecture is rich with names like Wright, Sullivan and others, but in modern execution today, there are few as prolific and exceptional as Marmol Radziner. In representing American Design, this firm was a clear choice. [photography: joe fletcher]
Marmol Radziner Architecture | Gallery
American Craftsmanship: Shinola Watches
The hands that built the American automotive industry are one of this country’s greatest resources. A new watch company opened its doors in Detroit to harness this resource to build a collection of hand-assembled mechanical watches. Shinola Watches, and their famed Shinola Runwell Watch, produce a series of timepieces that are Swiss in design but American in spirit, assembled piece-by-piece in their Detroit factory. It’s a great American success story in a city that never stops ticking.
Shinola Watches | Gallery
American Furniture: Eastvold Furniture
The middle of the last century was a design renaissance in the United States, one attributed in part to the Danish-inspired craftsmanship of Charles and Ray Eames. The lineage of the Eames influence continues today in the work of several furniture designers, especially the rising stars at Eastvold Furniture. Eastvold produces fine, sustainable modern furniture in a small shop in rural Minnesota, offering their own brand of modern all over the world. From credenzas to coffee tables, dining tables to beds, Eastvold has a full line of modern furniture that outlasts and out-styles its name-brand foreign competitors. In terms of American furniture design today, there are few as visionary and timeless as the work of Eastvold Furniture.
Eastvold Furniture | Gallery
American Style: Parke New York – Denim Evolved
Parke New York is amongst a growing class of new American businesses that built its base on Kickstarter. This successfully-funded (over eleven times its goal) fashion company produces “premium active denim”, a new kind of jeans for a new kind of American. Their belief is that the original blue jean, manufactured for miners many decades ago, is too heavy and rigid for today’s active American. Parke’s premium active denim features a high-tech fiber design that produces a lightweight, flexible denim thread that in turn yields a truly modern pair of jeans. They’re comfortable, they breathe well and they can handle the a commute on a bicycle or a walk through town. Most importantly, they look great doing it.
Parke New York | Gallery
American Invention: New Deal Design Product Design
Where does an idea go to take shape and become a tangible product? To places like New Deal Design, an inter-disciplinary industrial design firm in San Francisco that has created some ground-breaking products. From the Lytro light-field camera to the Fitbit line of wellness trackers, New Deal Design helps turn good ideas into successful products. What goes into this creative process? New Deal Design and its “29 multi-disciplinary braniacs” work in design strategy, industrial design processes, user experience design and product development. They combine to produce incredible products that tend to forge a path of their own, just like the Lytro and Fitbit gadgets have in their fields. When it comes to American industrial design, few firms are more respected.
NewDealDesign | Gallery
American Luxury: Cadillac CTS Interior Design
The genuine American alternative to import luxury sedans isn’t designed to compete, it’s designed to win. Far beyond its own class, the 2014 Cadillac CTS was named the Motor Trend 2014 Car of the Year against all competition. How did it compete? While its performance specs and exterior styling are well-covered, its the interior cabin that captures our focus. The interior features a range of options from exotic woods, carbon fiber and fine leather materials to the hand-stitching and sewing that brought it all together. This old-world craftsmanship is mated to a next-gen info/media/nav system called CUE, a technology suite which guides the way for the driver and entertains the passengers alike.
American Ingenuity: Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
You may not recognize the name Tony Fadell, but you know his work. The ex-Apple executive and creator of the iPod departed Apple to launch his own consumer products brand called Nest. Nest creates products that change the way we interact with our home — from a high-design smart thermostat to a high-design smart smoke detector. The Nest Protect is Fadell’s latest product, a system that alerts a home’s occupants to smoke or carbon monoxide in spoken commands and a message to your mobile device. It avoids false positives, meaning it won’t sound alarm if you burn your toast a little bit. It also won’t chirp through the night when it’s low on battery. Nest’s original product, the Nest Thermostat, is designed to save money and conserve energy at home (and very quickly pay for itself out of savings on your electric bill. By contrast, Nest Protect is designed to save lives.
Next Protect Smart Smoke Alarm | Gallery
American Evolution: Windowfarms Hydroponic Gardens
American agriculture has been at the heart of this country’s growth for hundreds of years. As commercial food production evolves, so does the concept of the garden in an increasingly urbanized landscape. Those without land to sew seeds into can still grow their own vegetables and herbs indoors. One recent option for window growers are Windowfarms, a set of modular hydroponic gardening systems that are designed to grow vertically. An array of Windowfarms can be set up in a large window with plenty of sun, or growing can be supplemented by LED light. These systems grow plants in nutrient-rich water, not soil, and they do so in a fraction of the time (with a fraction of the resources) right at home.
American Tradition: Tiny House by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
While the emphasis on new has always been a part of the American tradition, a respect for the old is rising. While many opt for new construction big-box homes, others go small and sustainable by restoring the old and unwanted into something beautiful. The Tiny House by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design is a prime example of American restoration, a small home that was in disrepair after multiple owners discarded it beginning. It has been refashioned into a stunning summer home with barn wood accents inside and a green roof overhead. It is designed to make living about the people within and the places around it, not the unnecessary space within. The result is a lesson in design and a masterwork in meaning. [photography: lincoln barbour]
Tiny House by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design | Gallery