When this December turns to January, we’ll be entering not only a new year but a new decade, leaving behind the 2010s, for better or worse. A lot has happened in the past 10 years—at the beginning of this decade, the iPhone had not yet reached ubiquity, President Obama was in the sophomore year of his first term, and most design news and inspiration still came largely from the printed page. A lot has come to pass in the design world since January 1, 2010, but we’ve narrowed down the most important moments that stood out among the rest.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential architects, Hadid’s untimely death in 2016 cut short her immeasurable talent and vision. At just 65 years old, Hadid’s passing forced the design world to contend with the notion that the apex of her talent would never be fully realized, though her legacy lives on in architectural gems like Germany’s Phæno Science Center or the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan. (2016)
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The French fashion house made waves in 2017 when they released a $2,145 tote that was strikingly similar to IKEA’s signature blue FRAKTA tote, which retails for just $0.99. While it wasn’t an official collaboration like those the Swedish furniture retailer has released since (collabs with Virgil Abloh, Tom Dixon, and Colette come to mind), the cheeky tote introduced the era to their genius partnership projects and catapulted it into a more elevated space. (2017)
In the wake of 9/11, New Yorkers and the world wondered what was to become of the distressed downtown Manhattan site. Ground Zero sat patiently as a recovery and construction zone for years, slowly transforming into a fitting memorial. Since 2013, a plethora of projects have given new meaning to the area; among them are SOM’s World Trade Center, Snøhetta’s 9/11 museum pavilion, Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus, Michael Arad’s memorial pools, and Peter Walker’s landscape design. (2013—2016)
The birth of the world’s most popular photo sharing app at the beginning of the decade has had an immeasurable effect on design, radically changing everything from how we gather inspiration, the rate at which trends come and go, how architects and designers attract new clients, and dismantling institutional hierarchies, among other things. The platform has also given rise to an Instagram aesthetic; everything from products and furniture to fair booths and entire structures have been designed to attract attention on the app, no doubt creating a ripple effect throughout the industry. (2010)
Countless new cultural institutions sprouted up across the globe and existing ones moved into new starchitect-designed homes, but there were a handful of projects that stood out against the rest. Of particular note are David Adjaye’s design for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016), the Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris (2016), Renzo Piano’s design for the new Whitney Museum (2015), Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s MoMA expansion (2019), the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum (2015), the Rem Koolhaas-designed new space for Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015), and the reopening of the Cooper Hewitt following a three-year closure (2014). The new and polished-up structures are more than just dazzling buildings; the thoughtful designs allow the institutions to recontextualize their collections, and provide better space for both temporary and permanent exhibitions to shine.
Not only has Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s 1.5-mile-long abandoned elevated railroad-turned-public park radically transformed the West Chelsea neighborhood, but it has also served as a template for countless other public reuse projects around the globe. (2014)
When the #MeToo movement unveiled decades of sexual assault and power abuse in the entertainment industry, it was only a matter of time before it came for the design world. Five women came forward with stories detailing alleged sexual harassment by architect Richard Meier as reported in the New York Times , and many others made allegations on an accusatory list that made the rounds. While only a few names were made public, the fallout from the list has sparked change and reparations. (Meier apologized in a statement to the Times , saying he was “deeply troubled and embarrassed” by the accusations, and later stepped down from the leadership of his firm.) (2018)
In a terroristic effort to erase all evidence of non-Islamic history, ISIS occupied and destroyed treasured structures in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria such as the Temple of Bel, the Temple of Baal Shamin, columns in the Valley of the Tombs, and the Arch of Triumph. While natural disasters and climate change have threatened other historic sites around the world, the intentional destruction of the ancient archeological site was a devastating loss for the architecture community. (2015)
With the premier of shows like Downton Abbey (2010) and The Crown (2016), English castles and manors were at the center of the spotlight this past decade, their aesthetics inspiring furniture, wallpaper, and textile design. Onscreen and on the page ( Assouline , Rizzoli , and Vendome were just some of the publishing houses to release tomes dedicated to the English country aesthetic), they were everywhere, no doubt influenced by real-world royal festivities such as weddings, births, and more.
At long last, the design world was given a U.S.-based forum to discuss contemporary architecture, with the 2015 inauguration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Dreamt up by then mayor Rahm Emanuel, the biennial seeks to rival that of Venice’s, with an international roster of committee members that includes David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, among others. (2015)
An entire city within a city, Hudson Yards is the apex of big-name projects in New York City, and will be the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States when completed. With a collection of residential and office towers, an indoor mall, a performance space, a hotel, and chef-led restaurants, the megastructure, which opened in March, includes projects by Kohn Pedersen Fox; Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Foster + Partners; and Thomas Heatherwick. (2019)
This past April, Paris’s beloved Notre-Dame cathedral caught fire and blazed into the evening, destroying the roof and spire of the 850-year-old Gothic church. The cathedral is one of the world’s best examples of French Gothic architecture, and while it had been repaired and updated in part over the centuries, the level of intervention and care required to restore it to its former glory is unprecedented. (2019)