#AmericanDesignHeroes

Famous American designers and innovation pioneers blazed trails for generations to follow. Some of the biggest names in their industries invented, innovated and improvised their way to fame and success. Here are just a few of their remarkable stories.

packard

Packard Luxury American Cars

For Amerifine, this is where it all began. In the early 70’s my late father was a collector of cars and in that context he bought a Packard in Nepal while he was travelling, and he shipped it back home in a dozen tea chests with the chassis in a container. I remember that car slowly coming to life and developing from its’ initial livery of yellow to regal red and standing proud in front of our home.  That was my first perception of America. Large, opulent and aesthetically perfect but with seemingly up to date switches and buttons that did everything any other car did and an exquisitely smooth ride. Since then Packards have always fascinated me. In the history of American luxury brands, Packard stands out among all others in the stables of the American automobile industry for its prestige, its sterling reputation and its extensive longevity. Little did I know at that tender age that the indelible impression that car left on me was the blueprint for my appetite for American luxury.

green dymaxion car - American Ingenuity

Prolific Imagination: Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller is a name many Americans may be familiar with, yet most probably can't say exactly why. Today, Fuller is identified with numerous concepts and inventions, the most famous of which is the geodesic dome, which can be seen in such structures as EPCOT's Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World in Orlando and the Biosphere (originally part of Expo '67) in Montreal, Canada.

Teaching Creativity: Parsons School of Design

In New York City, one college is respected above all others for instructing students in the fine arts, advertising and graphic design, interior design and fashion design.

photo of Richard Neutra

Prime Modernist: Richard Neutra

Among the most famous residences in Southern California from an architectural perspective are several dozen designed by the Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra. Neutra was a leading proponent of what today is known as the "International Style" of architecture, which can be seen in some of the most highly regarded commercial buildings of the mid-20th century, such as Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, Raymond Hood's McGraw-Hill Building — both in New York City — and Frits Peutz's Glaspaleis in the Netherlands, but also in residential works such as Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye on the outskirts of Paris, Eileen Gray's E-1027 in the South of France, and Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Photo of Robert Stern

The Neoclassicist: Robert A. M. Stern

Roughly a decade ago, a new era in luxury condominium sales commenced in New York City, perhaps unsurprisingly, at the southwest corner of Central Park immediately adjacent to Trump International Tower.

Photo of Preston Bailey

In Full Bloom: Preston Bailey

In the rarefied world of high-profile and celebrity weddings, a relatively new name has been making the rounds as the go-to person for spectacular occasions that have transformed both indoor and outdoor settings into magical locations in time and space, bedecked with flowers, props and illumination worthy of top-tier theatrical productions.

peter marino

Luxury’s Leather Daddy: Peter Marino

On a high floor of Manhattan's 150 58th Street office building, a stocky, musclebound, leather-clad man sporting dark aviator sunglasses and a macho 1970s-style beard, moustache and goatee strides into a modern office amidst Damien Hirst paintings, Robert Mapplethorpe photographs and a cornucopia of other artworks valued in the millions of dollars.

photo of lester beall

Taking American Design Forward: Lester Beall

Among American graphic artists, there are relatively few individuals whose work is inextricably tied to the poster format, particularly as it was represented in the propaganda art campaigns the U.S. government ran during the Great Depression and throughout World War II. But Lester Beall was one such artist, whose work was irresistibly modern and who nearly single-handedly pushed graphic design for the masses relentlessly forward into the future even as his American peers were toying with more artistic-based and esoteric approaches.

charles james

America’s First Couturier: Charles James

In America prior to the year 1900, "fashion" was a made-to-measure business; virtually all high-end clothing was painstakingly custom-made for both men and women. With the onset of the 20th century, however, large department stores and the media made it possible for unique, individual designs of clothing to be both promoted and mass-manufactured, allowing the skilled craftsmen and women who created them to become famous for their sartorial talents.

photo of rudi gernreich

Fashion’s Daring Futurist: Rudi Gernreich

In almost every possible way, Rudi Gernreich was the most forward-thinking and forward-looking American fashion designer of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Responsible for altering the way Americans looked at clothing, particularly as it both obscured and created consciousness of the body, Gernreich pushed the boundaries of what was socially acceptable and/or desirable for everyday apparel.