Crowning Heros.

The June issue of Fast Company magazine will feature twenty designers who have had the largest impact on our daily lives and the world of design itself. As part of a promotion for the issue, the magazine is asking the public to vote who will be the king of the hill, or what Fast Company calls “Master Designer”.

The five nominees for this dubious title are J Mays, William McDnough, Adrian Van Hooydonk, Robin Waters, and Yves Béhar.

You will remember J Mays from my essay on Ford Motor Company’s lack of real innovative design. But before you accuse me of trying to sway the vote it’s important to consider J’s contributions to design before and during his stay at Ford. His portfolio includes work at Audi, BMW, and Volkwagen. While at VW, he designed the a prototype vehicle which became the Volkswagen New Beetle. His more recent work at Ford has resulted in the new Thunderbird and 2005 Mustang.

Architect and Community Builder, William McDonough is best known for heavily influencing, if not starting the idea of building spaces that co-exist with the social and environmental surroundings. Founder of the Environmental Defense Fund Headquarters, William has created everything from consumer products to architecture to land developments — all over the world. Some of his better known projects are the Herman Miller GreenHouse and the Ford Rouge Center featuring 10 acres of grass roof tops.

Adrian Van Hooydonk is another entry of Fast Company’s competition from the automotive industry. Adrian, president of Designworks USA is primarily known for his approach to designing vehicles for BMW, including but not limited to the BMW X5 (my favorite), X Coupe, 3 series and Z4. However, Mr. Van Hooydonk has a wide ranging portfolio with designs for cell phones, snow boards, GPS units, lawn mowers, and watches.

According to a resume found via Google, Robyn Waters is the Vice President of Design and Product Development for Target (facts corroborated by Fast Company’s profile but hey Robyn, how about a website?). She is responsible for repositioning Target into “Tarjay”, helping the general merchandise mega store create a new hip and trendy image in contrast to competitors like Walmart and K-Mart. Robyn is also credited with managing partnerships with high-profile designers such as Mossimo, Michael Graves, and Phillipe Starck. Simply put, Robyn has transformed discount merchandise into a highly successful brand through design.

Yves Béhar appears to be the long lost brother of Adrian Van Hooydonk. Founder of Fuseproject, Yves has designed a wide variety of products for clients like Mini, Herman Miller, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, Nissan, and Target. He has worked for the likes of Frog Design, Lunar Design, and Apple Computer. He’s known for the ultra cool Silicon Graphics O2 workstation and has designed everything from perfume bottles to footwear, computers to furniture.

Damn that’s a lot of talent to read about in one sitting. So now that you are familiar with Fast Company’s participants in this pageant, who do you think is missing from this list of Fab Five with the Pine to Design?

Before you jump in, let me start by taking Edward Tufte off the list of potential candidates. Yes, Edward has done some great work and yes his books are fantastic, but Tufte has become more and more the obvious child where online conversations about design are concerned. Besides, I don’t recall Tufte’s work having as broad of an impact on daily life as does the work of persons listed above. I could be wrong.

My nomination to this list is Jonathan Ive, Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Computer. Ive has changed the face of consumer product design indirectly through his work on the iMac, iPod, Powerbook, and G5 desktop computer. Ripped off by many, matched by maybe a few, but never outdone — Jonathan’s work at Apple has helped transform the computer company into one of the most desired brands in the world. His work influences everything from kitchen appliances to office supplies. If there was a write in box, Jonathan would have my vote.