Yinka Ilori may be an artist and furniture designer, but he’s also a crafty teacher. Underneath the playful West African fabrics and whimsical touches, sits a deeper message. Born in London to Nigerian immigrants, Ilori grounds all of his work in traditional Nigerian parables, and he uses those pithy lessons to transform discarded furniture into complex narratives about sexuality, religion, poverty and hierarchy.
After moving into their new 50,000-square-foot space in the Innovation and Design Building, a former military depot on the edge of Boston’s Seaport District, Elkus Manfredi Architects faced a lot of blank walls. “We instinctively knew that we did not want to be self-aggrandizing and fill our office with photos and models of our designs,” says Elizabeth Lowrey, a principal and director of interior architecture at the firm.
Charles Darwin’s own illnesses may have influenced evolutionary theory. Here’s how. Charles Darwin, whose theory of natural selection inspired the phrase “survival of the fittest,” was, for much of his life, rather unfit. A mighty array of illnesses plagued Darwin for decades, including insomnia, eczema, and heart palpitations, but his most constant companions seem to have been anxiety and terrible gastric distress.
Saks was just a teenager when she started believing her thoughts could kill other people. But with treatment, her schizophrenia didn’t stop her from living a fulfilling life. One morning, when Elyn R. Saks was in high school, she suddenly decided to leave class and head home. During the three-mile walk, the world around her started “becoming very intense,” and she began to think that the houses were sending her messages: Look closely.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo knew he was a great ballplayer, but when it came to his diabetes, he didn’t think he was extraordinary. On a hot August afternoon in 1967, Chicago Cubs player Ron Santo walked up to the plate at Wrigley Field and saw three Bill Singers, a pitcher with a fierce fastball, staring back at him.
Downtown Seattle is quite literally marked by growth. Cranes clutter the skyline and diggers burrow into the ground, laying the foundation for a dramatically different cityscape on the rise. A June 2016 report by the Downtown Seattle Association counted 65 major buildings under construction in the area—the most since the organization began keeping a tally in 2005. Already the tenth densest city in U.S., Seattle is on pace to move up the ranks.
Architect and developer Cary Tamarkin is a man both out of step with time and totally in synch. He doesn’t own a smartphone, he believes “technology will ultimately be the ruination of our society,” and he plays bluegrass and other “old timey tunes” on banjo and mandolin. And yet, Tamarkin’s prescient real estate investments have led to a thriving—and lucrative—career.
Margaret Montgomery, sustainability leader at architecture firm NBBJ, believes that daily access to nature is a basic human right. At the Seattle-based NBBJ, she’s working to strengthen our connection to the natural environment in a variety of contexts, among them the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle.
Through repetitive, mindful weaving, Erin M. Riley keeps her impulse to pluck her hair out under control. At age 13, Erin M. Riley started plucking her hair as a way to relieve stress caused by her family’s substance abuse problems. Throughout her childhood on Cape Cod, her dad used drugs and her mom drank.
This blind travel writer featured on This American Life says the world gets smaller for him when he travels, not bigger. On Ryan Knighton’s 18th birthday, his doctor told him he had retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a progressive genetic disease that leads to night blindness, tunnel vision, and eventually total blindness.
Known for his massive, photorealistic portraits, American artist Chuck Close says he owes all of his artistic success to his limitations. If Chuck Close had his way, we’d all walk around with name tags and short bios pinned to our chests. While riding on the subway, he once failed to recognize an ex-lover whom he had lived with for a year only two years prior.
As the engineer behind the Sydney Opera House and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Ove Arup was a singular talent. But it was his collaborative, multidisciplinary approach that made the greatest impact on the built environment, and helped grow a uniquely innovative firm. Today, his eponymous company employs 12,000 planners, designers, engineers, and consultants, in 40 countries.