Ron Arad is an industrial designer, artist and architect from Israel. He attended the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem between 1971-73 & the Architectural Association in London from 1974-79. He was Head of Design Products Department at the Royal College of Art from 1997 to 2009. In 2005, Arad designed chandeliers for the Swarovski crystal company which if one has the number, can display text messages that are sent to it by incorporating light-emitting diodes (LEDs) operated by SMS text messages. He also has had tables that climb walls instead of being centered in the room. Arad's works are often worked into distinctive biomorphic shapes and are created from his medium of choice, steel. He also paired with KENZO to create his first perfume bottle. Website: www.ronarad.com

Tim Brown is the CEO of innovation & design firm IDEO and carries forward the firm's mission of fusing design, business & social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs & ideas -- they call it "design thinking." IDEO is the kind of firm that companies turn to when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product -- from fast food conglomerates to high-tech startups, hospitals to universities. IDEO has designed & prototyped everything from a life-saving portable defibrillator to the defining details at the groundbreaking Prada shop in Manhattan to corporate processes. Brown's new book on design thinking will be published this fall. Website: www.ideo.com

Design-wise, he’s best known for creating gorgeous couture confections for the likes of Eartha Kitt & others, as well as a hugely popular & affordable line for Target. His design mission comes wrapped in endless charisma. He's a talk-show host, he's performed his own one-man show Off-Broadway, he was the subject of the hilarious documentary Unzipped, & he does regular cabaret nights at Joe's Pub in New York City. His new book is called “How to Have Style”. Website: http://www.isaacmizrahiny.com/

David Carson's boundary-breaking typography in the 1990s, in Ray Gun magazine & other pop-cult books, ushered in a new vision of type & page design. Squishing, smashing, slanting & enchanting the words on a layout, Carson made the point, over and over, that letters on a page are art. You can see the repercussions of his work to this day, on a million Flash intro pages (and probably just as many skateboards and T-shirts). His first book, with Lewis Blackwell & a foreword by David Byrne, is “The End of Print”, & he's written or collaborated on several others, including the magisterial “Book of Probes”. His latest book is Trek, a collection of his recent work. Website: www.davidcarsondesign.com

As a rock star designer, she's cooked up everything from Boston album covers to Elvis Costello posters, pausing somewhere in between to trash the ubiquitous visual authoritarianism of Helvetica. She's also created some of design's most iconic images, like the Citibank logo. She is a partner in the renowned design firm Pentagram, and in 2001 received the distinguished AIGA medal. As a fine artist, she’s also become well known for her microscopically detailed map paintings, densely latticed with hand-lettered text, that evoke not only place but the varied political, historical and cultural meanings (and preconceptions) brought to the world by the viewer. Website: www.paulascher.com

Philippe Starck is a legend of modern design. He's known for his luxurious hotels & boites around the world -- designing the total environment from layout to furniture to linens. He has made his most permanent mark on design through his bold re-workings of everyday objects. In reimagining & rethinking the quotidian, he has produced some of the iconic shapes of the 20th century, including his leggy chrome juice squeezer, the reimagined Emeco aluminum chairs, and the witty Louis Ghost polycarbonate fauteuil. Website: www.phillippe-starck.com