25 Years Of Design Thinking

For our 25th anniversary issue we decided to reflect on some of the defining moments in the design world since 1981, when Metropolis was founded. These were watershed events that not only still mean something to us today but also project potential futures for the way we live, the spaces we inhabit, the objects we use every day, and even how we think. Some of the legacies of these events are inconclusive or ambivalent ones—Michael Graves’s Portland Building, the destruction and possible rebuilding of the World Trade Center—and subjects of ongoing debate, the consequences of which are still not clear. We were guided in this review of the last quarter century of design by a spirit similar to the one that animated Walter Benjamin when he wrote, “Every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.” We invited a few of our favorite correspondents—Philip Nobel, Peter Hall, and Lyle Rexer—to join MoMA design curator Paola Antonelli and the Metropolis staff in a reconsideration of the influence of designers such as Tibor Kalman and Philippe Starck; products like the iMac, Aeron chair, and OXO Good Grips peeler; and works of architecture such as the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with the aim of both reinvigorating some of those debates and anticipating the form of things to come.

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