One of my favorite aspects of picking Young Guns is the discovery—getting to know the next generation of influential designers and unpacking their perspectives, talents, and skills for a wider audience. Our jobs, as editors, wouldn't be any fun if we weren't always learning something, and combing through hundreds of nominations from our community is generally pretty illuminating. As a team, we assembled a group of winners that represents varied disciplines, widening the net from interior and furniture design to video game engineering, community-based transportation apps, and animated artwork.
We're also reconsidering the notion of young. We live in a time where you can change your career path relatively easily, the startup spirit pervades every strata of the design industry, and hardly anyone retires at age 65. All of which makes the "under 35" dictum more and more meaningless. So while we're committed to honoring the most cutting-edge people and practices we can unearth, we'll be wrestling with the notion of young versus up-and-coming versus emerging, and what actually matters when it comes to highlighting innovation. As always, tell us what you think in the comments or via direct feedback, and happy reading. —Kelsey Keith
Interior designer and founder, Dani Arps LLC
The 32-year-old, New York City-based interior designer has made a name for herself designing the offices of startup companies. "The startup typology that I cater to is very much a niche in itself, but I consider interior design, in general, an artwork we live in. It affects how we live and function everyday and can have a huge impact on our overall happiness."
With the creation of Remix, a program that draws from open-source libraries, maps, and data sets to show new transportation options for cities, San Francisco resident Tiffany Chu, 27, gave urban planners a game-changing tool. "There’s a whole set of opportunities to show the tradeoffs and benefits of different transportation options, and help city officials be better planners. We’re just starting with transportation. There are so many ways technology can empower city planners."
Jake Levine and Zoe Salditch, co-founders
According to co-founder Jake Levine, the most rewarding part of Electric Objects, a New York City startup that created a new way to display digital art, is working with a team that is "100 percent committed to this insane vision of using technology to bring an artful, quiet, experience into the home."
Hedge House Furniture
Philip and Katlyn Mast
During his freshman year of college, Philip Mast, the 35-year-old founder of Indiana's Hedge House Furniture, had a course next to the furniture design department. "That was my first introduction to it, and it gave me an appreciation for creating things, that were utilitarian and have a physical presence in the home, as opposed to being an advertisement or something on paper."
"I'm originally trained as an architect and only after several years of study and research, I decided to go back to an interest of mine, video games," says Jose Sanchez, who lives and works in Los Angeles. "I felt that there was a chance to combine ideas of architecture and games in a way that could have positive impact." Called Block'hood, Sanchez's game encourages players to think about issues related to power, life cycles, food production, and development to create an ecological balance.
Karie Reinertson and Rob Maddox, co-founders
"Our practice [in Asheville, North Carolina] arose from being in a community of generalists where people's lives as designers was indistinguishable from their lives as people. Whether it was designing a garden or a timber frame, the approach was always through the lens of art and design. We embrace the view that designed objects and spaces are actually the things that shake out of a life well lived. We enjoy working with people that embrace that as well."
Colin Westeinde—who's been living in Providence, Rhode Island, while attending RISD—wants his furniture to be infused with the practicality and mobility of high-performance gear, fit for the nomadic millennial population, and his next collaboration, a core kit of transformable, heirloom-quality pieces, aims to be a durable, and beautiful, Ikea alternative.