Hint to designers: If Amy Astley is on the line, take the call. The Architectural Digest editor in chief was the first to congratulate the 2019 AD100 honorees, including Ken Fulk and Brigette Romanek, who are among the 14 new faces gracing the list. Additionally, five heavyweights have been added to the Hall of Fame: Louis Benech, Ellie Cullman, Jacques Garcia, Frank Gehry and John Stefanidis.
“We think of the AD100 as the most important architects and designers of the year—the names you need to know now,” Sam Cochran, Architectural Digest features director, tells Business of Home. “That includes both legends in the field as well as rising stars.” The work of some honorees has glossed the pages of the magazine. Others, Cochran says, are firms “we’re just excited about, whose projects promise to have a cultural impact.”
Leading the way in social consciousness is inaugural list-maker Mass Design Group, the decade-old, nonprofit architecture firm based in Boston. This year, Mass debuted the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, as well as a redesign of Rwanda’s Ruhehe Primary School. And social justice is just one of the major themes reflected across the 2019 honorees.
For others, commonalities can be found among their clients. Los Angeles–based Brigette Romanek, principal designer at Romanek Design Studio and co-founder of Hancock Design, counts celebrities Ellen Pompeo and Rachel Zoe among her clientele—an unsurprising feat for a designer whose own Laurel Canyon estate was a recording studio frequented by the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger in the ’60s and ’70s. Other new honorees with star-studded client rosters include New York–based Charles & Co., Brooklyn-based Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design, Pierce & Ward of Los Angeles and Nashville, and New York–based Studio Giancarlo Valle.
The scope of projects has expanded this year as well, with several first-time honorees possessing portfolios driven by hospitality projects. Notable among them is a Providence, Rhode Island, strip club and brothel transformed into a modish boutique hotel called The Dean by ASH NYC, a Brooklyn-based design, development and staging firm. ASH NYC’s contemporary aesthetic can also be traced to historic night-stays like The Siren in Detroit and Hotel Peter & Paul in New Orleans. Other hospitality specialists gracing the first-time honoree list include Paris-based Isabelle Stanislas Architecture and Ken Fulk Inc. of San Francisco and New York.
The 2019 AD100 newbies—whose ranks also include Los Angeles–based Jamie Bush & Co., Sausalito, California–based Charles De Lisle, and New York–based Julie Hillman Design, Cafiero Select, and Kelly Behun Studio—join AD100 veterans such as Drake/Anderson, Kelly Wearstler and Ike Kligerman Barkley. The year’s full AD100 appears in Architectural Digest’s January print issue, available now.
“We’re thrilled by the diversity of work the AD100 represents in terms of style, scale and scope,” says Cochran. “These are people who do not think of design as a series of siloed disciplines, but rather are engaging in a range of projects—from product lines to hotels to real-estate development to retail. Sky’s the limit.”