CEOs celebrate design; the design world celebrates CEOs

Last night, I attended the annual Visionaries auction and awards ceremony hosted by the Museum of Art and Design here in New York, and sat among some of the most influential executives and tastemakers working at the intersection of design and business today. They included Claudio Luti, who co-founded the fashion empire Versace and who also now heads Kartell, the chic furniture maker known for its inventive use of plastics; Piero Lissoni, the renowned furniture designer; Paola Antonelli, curator of architecture and design at MoMA (who speaks at events for the World Economic Forum); Stefano Tonchi, editor of the New York Times’ T Magazine; and Michele Caniato, president of Culture & Commerce, which pairs high-end designers with corporations such as Target. Mr. Luti was one of MAD’s honorees, and was a charming host and speaker. (Yes, it was a predominantly Italian group that is amazingly chic, adding to the evening’s glamour quotient.) Other MAD honorees included Jerome Chazen, the former CEO of Liz Claiborne, who was introduced by Michael Gould, CEO of Bloomingdale’s, and Alan Siegel, CEO of branding consultancy Siegel + Gale (3M, American Express, and CBS are among their clients). Business lessons learned from last night’s conversations and the honorees’ speeches? Collaboration helps push all parties involved in new, imaginative directions because they are constantly challenged and edited. And the worlds of fashion and design are not simply about decoration. They can provide relevant examples of fresh ways of working with materials and marketing tactics that can be applied to wide varieties of consumer goods.

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