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Best of CH 2012: People + Photo Ops


Best of CH 2012: People + Photo Ops

Words and images with the designers, photographers and innovators that inspired us

by CH Editors
on 26 December 2012

You won't ever find a "Person of the Year" on Cool Hunting. We're influenced by too many people and meet more every day that keep us motivated to do and create. When we have the opportunity to interview—and, if we're lucky, to photograph—one of these outstanding individuals, those become some of the most rewarding stories. Here are seven people who kept us inspired in 2012.

Matthew Dear

"I have this hyperactive brain that needs to create to feel like I'm doing something valuable... That's what makes me feel like my life is worth being awake for."

DJ, co-founder of Ghostly International and all-around renaissance man Matthew Dear is an endlessly impressive individual. On the eve of a performance at London's Boiler room, Dear talked to us about Detroit, the genesis of Ghostly and his source of motivation. During the performance, we were around to capture Dear in his element.

Thomas Keller

"I've been butter-poaching lobster for over twenty years, and it all comes from my memory of eating lobster with my mother."

One of the most enlightening conversations of the year came while speaking with and photographing Chef Thomas Keller in the garden of The French Laundry. We had come for food but ended up leaving with sound advice from Keller on education, working with a team and, of course, butter-poached lobster.

Ruvan Wijesooriya and LCD Soundsystem

"The pictures of LCD were literally what I wanted to do while hanging out with them. I can't help but take the pictures. Very few of the pictures in the book were planned or discussed."

For seven years, Ruvan Wijesooriya followed legendary band LCD Soundsystem as they toured around the world, amassing in the process thousands of images. The photographs depart from Wijesooriya's well-known fashion and nightlife style, showing instead honest and personal moments with the band. We spoke with Wijesooriya on the occasion of the release of "LCD," a book that collects the best shots from over the years.


"Curiosity is the glue for me. That's what makes it stick. If I'm not curious I'll lose it in two seconds, it just falls off."

An impromptu rendezvous with Pharrell this year during Miami Art Week turned out to be a great opportunity to pick the young mogul's mind and photograph him with the help of our friend Ruediger Glatz of BHP. The conversation centered around Pharrell's Artst Tlk series, and we learned a bit about what makes him tick.

Michael Beirut

"I think the conference brings out the best in the speakers. You feel the energy from the audience, and the people on stage really feel an obligation to make a connection."

Acting as emcee for this year's Design Indaba, Michael Beirut shared thoughts with us on the evolution of the conference based on his involvement since 2005. The graphic designer mentioned highlights from past years as well as his thoughts on what makes the conference a cultural force for Cape Town, South Africa and the design community at large.

Lauren White and The Rolling Stones

"After extensive research, I came to find that these are unpublished, never-before-seen photos of one of the most legendary bands in rock 'n' roll history."

One of the greatest photo ops of the year came from an unidentified source. On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition "Found," we spoke with curator Lauren White about her chance encounter with never-before-seen photographs of The Rolling Stones at an LA Flea Market.

Philippe Starck

"I am not an artist. I am just trying to be a designer, but it is not enough."

The godfather of single mould injected polycarbonate, designer Philippe Starck has left an indelible mark on furniture design and acted as exporter of the Italian aesthetic. During Milan Design Week, Starck reflected on the history of Kartell and the relationship between art and design.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

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My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

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The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

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Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

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Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

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Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

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We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

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Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

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I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

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I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

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The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

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I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

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I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

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Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

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Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

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We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

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We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

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What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

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People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

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I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

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I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

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We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

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It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

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In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

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I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

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[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms
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