Title: Graphic designer and illustrator
Lives In: Barcelona
Click through the online portfolio of Barcelona’s Ana Domínguez and you will see projects born of three related disciplines: graphic design, illustration, and art direction. There is, however, a common thread weaving through her work. Whether producing a book or a poster, a type treatment or a watercolor, an editorial spread or a website, Domínguez exhibits a refined, understated elegance. In the Bread Still Life photography series she has produced for Apartamento magazine (where she regularly serves as an art director), Domínguez and designer Omar Sosa transformed humble loaves into gravity-defying sculptures. Her watercolors of flowers, fruit, and furniture are both sensual and sensible. It was this diversity and composure as a designer that led Astrid Stavro to hire Domínguez in 2007. “She walked in one day and showed me her portfolio, and I hired her on the spot,” Stavro says.
Bread sculptures and Whatercolour Fruits—a recent project featuring actual pieces of fruit that have been peeled and painted with watercolors—risk being precious, but in Domínguez’s hands the results are surprisingly sophisticated. “She has exquisite taste,” Stavro says. “Her work is clean and formally solid. I like that it’s kind of diluted, going straight to the point.”
This is an effect that Domínguez works hard to achieve. “I like to provide my projects with an austere aesthetic, but at the same time I like to add a lot of presence,” she says. Typography plays an important role. “If you treat typography very delicately, it will end up giving off a special aroma in the project.”
While attending high school in the town of Figueres, Domínguez assumed that she would become a photographer. But an encounter with a graphic designer specializing in typography and illustration intrigued her. “Seeing those projects opened a window into something that I didn’t know about, but by intuition I could tell that I would like it a lot.”
She attended EINA, the Barcelona School of Design and Art, before going to work in some of Spain’s top graphic design studios. It was with Stavro, with whom she worked for nearly two years, that Domínguez learned to add a rigorous, research-based process to her intuitions. Now this combination of research, intuition, and content directs Domínguez’s approach in her own studio, which she founded in 2009. “All decisions in graphic design are arbitrary if they’re not rooted in concepts,” she says. “I try not to be pretentious. The idea will lead you to the aesthetic.”
—Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson
Title: Designer, Walker Art Center
From: Bismarck, ND
Lives In: Minneapolis
In 2011, when the Minneapolis-based Walker Art Center turned its website from a mostly marketing-based interface into an editorially driven content provider and aggregator, it was immediately called a game changer. Eric Price was part of the nine-person team of designers, developers, software engineers, editors, and curators who did it. As the team’s new-media designer, he was in charge of developing “a flexible framework for content,” which he says meant designing “around this void where yet-unwritten text is supposed to go,” alongside the images, video, and sound that make up the museum’s ambitious publishing platform.
Standing at the latter of those intersections is the School of Visual Arts’ M.F.A. program in design criticism, or D-Crit, based in New York City. With Matthew Rezac, Price built three websites for the program—“elegant, effective, and sustainable structures,” says Alice Twemlow, D-Crit’s chair and cofounder. “He gets the premise of what we’re trying to do, refines it, gives it interactive dimensionality, delivers on time and within our baby budgets, and always with a kind of laid-back graciousness that I find incredibly soothing, and offsets my New York– and caffeine-induced jitters.”
Title: Graphic designer
From: Pforzheim, Germany
Lives In: Tel Aviv, Israel
All big breaks should be this effortless: In May 2007, Rami Moghadam submitted his résumé and portfolio to Luke Hayman at Pentagram’s New York City office. Hayman was immediately struck, he says, by Moghadam’s eye for typography and attention to detail. “We met, and he started off working as a freelancer,” Hayman says. “Within a couple of months, he joined as a full-time member of the team.” Over the course of four and a half years at Pentagram, Moghadam worked together with Hayman on 12 magazine redesigns, from the aging giant Tennis to the iconic hip-hop monthly Vibe.
“A magazine is a system of fonts, grids, graphics, and art direction for photography and illustration,” Hayman says. “Rami naturally thinks systematically.” Moghadam—who now lives in Tel Aviv, freelancing for American and Israeli clients—calls his design approach methodical, and emphasizes the extensive research and streamlining that go into each project. “I look to create order in the designs I work on,” he says. “My love for systems is especially helpful in rethinking the front of the book, which sometimes gets convoluted when magazines sporadically add new page ideas into the mix.” For Tennis, Moghadam combed through the magazine’s archives and pinpointed the heyday of the sport: the late 1970s and early ’80s, an era of “short shorts and long hair.” The final redesign sported a cover with a tweaked version of the Omnes typeface and, throughout the book, punchier colors that were consistent with the sport’s—and the magazine’s—golden era.
Moghadam’s love of systems springs from his childhood in Pforzheim, a small town in southwest Germany, where he lived until he was 14. Renowned for its jewelry and watch production, the town was bombed heavily during World War II by Allied forces, who feared that pieces of precision equipment were being manufactured there. The new city that sprang up from the rubble, Moghadam says, “followed modernist principles of cleanliness, legibility, and order.” He points to Bauhaus and Swiss-style designers, such as Armin Hofmann and Josef Müller-Brockmann, as direct influences on his work. “I think my German upbringing has a lot to do with my tendency to go for minimalist but bold design solutions,” he says.
Boldness is a defining characteristic of Moghadam’s style. In addition to his continuing redesign work at Pentagram (now on a freelance basis), he has art directed striking layouts for The New York Times Magazine. For an article about a McDonald’s public-relations blunder, Moghadam underscored Stephen Lewis’s juicy photographs of fast-food items with an appropriately splashy Big Gulp–style typeface. “There are certain pieces,” says Gail Bichler, the magazine’s art director, “that we want to have a sense of urgency or immediacy. This is a great example of a piece that worked better with a more in-your-face design approach, which Rami employs to great effect.” To conceive these visuals, Moghadam often simply imagines himself in the reader’s position: “I want to be surprised by the magazine’s visual solutions and get excited to read the stories.”
Title: Motion-graphics designer, Google Creative Lab
From: Gwangju, Korea
Lives In: Brooklyn
If you’ve seen the promotional video for Google’s Project Glass—a user interface built into wearable glasses—you’ve seen Monica Kim’s work. Kim designed the sequence in collaboration with a team at Google and animated it on her own, bringing to life the maps, IMs, weather forecasts, and other elements that would appear in the interface. “I don’t want it to look like this crazy augmented reality,” she says. “I would rather have something that’s more simple, that’s more fun, that’s more light.”
As a motion-graphics designer at Google Creative Lab, Kim spends half her time working on the company’s Future Vision project, an initiative to conceive new technology and tools. Robert Wong, chief creative officer of Google Labs, says, “She’s inventing the future that potentially billions of people will experience.”
That’s a tall order for a 24-year-old, but Kim, who was born in South Korea, has been precocious her whole life. At the age of 14, she moved out of her parents’ house and lived on her own, working at clothing stores and hair salons to pay her living expenses. She supported herself through high school and then began studying industrial design at Kookmin University, in Seoul. But six months in, drawn to New York City and to editorial, print, and web design, she transferred to the School of Visual Arts, graduating in 2011 with a B.F.A. in graphic design and a concentration in motion graphics.
Kim was hired the same year as part of Google Five, a group of recent graduates from different design disciplines who are selected for their promise; she became full-time last summer. At Google, she’s done branding and motion graphics—including the Google Drive logo and promo video—in addition to developing user interfaces for Future Vision. (Much of that work she can’t talk about, as the initiative is under close wraps.) Yet, whatever the technology is, Kim’s designs share a certain sensibility. “User-interface animation has to be invisible,” she says. “I don’t want people to notice it, and I don’t want people to focus on it. It has to be subtle, but they should get a delightful feeling from it.”