Year in Review: New Talent

In 2019, Metropolis featured ten up-and-coming architects and designers. Together, they point design in a positive, progressive direction.

Designed by T SAKHI, Fleeting Hearts was a pop-up pavilion that hosted a venerable Beirut nightclub. The three-year-old practice, which was founded by two sisters, was featured as one of Metropolis’s New Talents in 2019. Courtesy Tony Elieh

A key remit of Metropolis’s editorial coverage is highlighting and elevating the work of young designers. This mandate can present some challenges, however: What if a promising talent, his/her buzzy portfolio and kinetic website flush with intriguing concepts and designs, hasn’t had the opportunity to realize much? (Lest it need to be said, not everyone has the benefit of a parent willing to commission a new house.) Assessing this work, then, the question goes through our minds: Is a divergence between speculative and built, prototype and mass-produced, grounds to preclude coverage?

One starts to see that divergence widen across disciplines, too; whatever Mies van der Rohe intended when he compared the rigor of designing a chair to that of a skyscraper, the disparity in their manufacturing cannot be so easily discounted. Moreover, some practices are more mediagenic than others. After all, how does one engagingly depict, through still images, a designer-led community board meeting? Or a landscape, which continues to mutate over seasons and years? And what about a divergence across generations? What constitutes “young,” and are we comfortable with establishing lines in the sand when it comes to age?

We hope that all this deliberating shines through in the ten “new talents” we featured in print this past year. These architects and designers advance a mix of practices that range from research and critical approaches to design orthodoxies to the more traditional endeavor of building. Several attitudes unites them, not least a regard for minimizing waste. Overcoming widespread alienation and designing for numerous publics—oftentimes through interactive urban installations—is another. Generationally, they are relatively heterogeneous, as is their geographical purview. But together, they point a progressive way forward.

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