We’re excited and proud to introduce some of the judges for 2023’s Innovation by Design Awards. Innovation by Design honors the best projects and ideas across the design spectrum, as represented by our stellar group of jurors, who come from some of the world’s most exciting design-led companies. Read on to meet them, and stay tuned as we add more experts.
Christina Agapakis, creative director, Ginkgo Bioworks
Christina Agapakis is a synthetic biologist and artist and is the creative director at Ginkgo Bioworks, a biological design company based in Boston that provides genetic engineering as a service for companies across all industries. At Ginkgo, Christina leads a dynamic cross-disciplinary team working at the interfaces of synthetic biology and society to build more ethical and equitable technologies through design, strategic communication, and public policy.
Saskia van Gendt, head of sustainability, Rothy’s
An environmental scientist with more than a decade of experience in sustainable manufacturing and design, Saskia van Gendt develops strategies to minimize the impact that Rothy’s supply chain has on the environment, advancing the company’s sustainable innovations in materials, production, fulfillment, and more. Prior to joining Rothy’s, Saskia worked as senior director of sustainability at Method Home. Saskia graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in environmental science.
Lucy Greco, design evangelist, University of California, Berkeley
Lucy Greco is an accessibility evangelist who works at the University of California, Berkeley. Lucy has been blind since birth and has always enjoyed playing with technology in all of its forms. Lucy investigates all kinds of technology to help determine how to make it better for people with disabilities, including video games, mobile applications, kiosks, and more. She speaks internationally and loves to teach people about accessibility.
Prem Krishnamurthy, director, Wkshps
Prem Krishnamurthy is a designer, author, and educator. His multifaceted work explores the role of art as an agent of transformation at an individual, collective, and structural level. This manifests in exhibitions, images, performances, publications, systems, talks, texts, and workshops. He received the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Communications Design in 2015 and KW Institute for Contemporary Art’s “A Year With…” residency fellowship in 2018. Prem’s professional papers were acquired by Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies in 2019, and in 2022 Domain Books published his book-length epistolary essay, On Letters. He currently directs Wkshps, a multidisciplinary design studio, and organizes Department of Transformation, an itinerant workshop that practices collaborative tools for social change. In addition to leading projects with artists, cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations across the world, he has curated several large-scale exhibitions, including Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, the 2022 edition of FRONT International, Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art; Our Silver City, 2094 at Nottingham Contemporary; and Ministry of Graphic Design in Sharjah, UAE. Previously, Prem founded the design studio Project Projects and the exhibition space P! in New York.
Gabi Michel, director, accessible accessories, Microsoft
Gabi Michel is the director of accessible accessories and a hardware development program manager at Microsoft Devices. She has spent the past 10 years leading the development of a wide variety of devices, from Xbox controllers to a Surface laptop. Her most prominent products are the Xbox Adaptive Controller and the new Microsoft Adaptive Accessories. Gabi has become a strong advocate for bringing accessibility to mainstream consumer electronics and embracing inclusive design in all things.
Silas Munro, founder, Polymode
Silas Munro is an artist, designer, writer, and curator. He is the founder of the LGBTQ+ and minority-owned graphic design studio Polymode, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Los Angeles, that works with clients across cultural spheres. Silas is the curator and author of Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, which opened at Letterform Archive in 2022-2023. He was a contributor to W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America and coauthored the forthcoming first BIPOC-centered design history course, “Black Design in America: African Americans and the African Diaspora in Graphic Design 19-21st Century.” Silas is faculty co-chair for the MFA program in graphic design at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Georg Petschnigg, SVP of product design, The New York Times
Georg Petschnigg is the senior vice president of product design at The New York Times, where he creates products and journalism experiences that help people understand and engage with the world. Georg cofounded FiftyThree, the makers of Paper, the celebrated sketching app for getting ideas down; Paste, the fastest way for teams to share and gather around their ideas; and Pencil, the award-winning digital stylus. Internationally recognized for design excellence and innovation, FiftyThree has received awards from Apple, IDSA, Communication Arts, and IxDA. FiftyThree’s products reach more than 30 million creative thinkers worldwide and defined mobile creativity. While at Microsoft Georg cofounded the Pioneer Studios, a design venture fund, where he led the incubation of Microsoft Courier, the foldable tablet, and other mobile products. He was part of the first online version of Office, and developed the new graphic system in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. He has worked at the Stanford Computer Graphics Lab, Bell Laboratories, the T.J. Watson Research Center, and Microsoft Research in the areas of video, image, and light-field processing, and he’s published seminal research in computational photography.
Anna Polonsky, founder, Polonsky and Friends
Founder Anna Polonsky has worked in hospitality her entire career and earned accolades from numerous organizations, including Forbes Magazine’s 30under30 and the James Beard Awards.
For 7 years, she was a partner and US director of Le Fooding, a disruptive restaurant guide and event company recently acquired by Michelin. Her roster of consulting clients included LVMH, MasterCard, Nestlé Waters, and others. In 2014, she co-founded The MP Shift, the first 360 degree creative agency in hospitality, providing concept, graphics, and interior design services to an international clientele.
In 2019, encouraged by a chaotic political context, Anna took a new turn. With Polonsky and Friends, she seeks to apply her strategy and creative direction skills to clients who are working daily towards more quality, craftsmanship, transmission and inclusiveness.
Mark Rolston, cofounder, Argodesign
For more than 30 years, Mark Rolston has been at the forefront of how design and technology shape the human experience. As a creative leader, Mark has worked with some of the most successful companies in the world, including Disney, Magic Leap, DreamWorks, Singular Genomics, Google, Salesforce, IBM, and Microsoft. At Argodesign, the consultancy he founded in 2014, he plays a pivotal role in the evolution of design through his groundbreaking work in AI, mixed reality, and edge computing while also serving as a guide and mentor to hundreds of designers and design leaders working today. Previously, he contributed foundational methods and approaches to problem-solving, establishing the core tenets of Atomic Design in the mid-1990s. In his 20 years as the creative head at Frog Design, he spearheaded projects in mobile design and related touchscreen and gesture-based interfaces to redefine the role of consumer mobile devices. Mark is a writer and speaker, appearing in the pages of Wired, Inc, eWeek, and Fast Company, and on stage at DLD and the Next Web.
Michael Simcoe, SVP of global design, General Motors
Michael Simcoe serves as General Motors’ senior vice president of global design, leading teams and studios around the world focused on all aspects of design, including advanced, production, and industrial design operations supporting GM’s brands and subsidiaries. Recent designs developed under his leadership include the Cadillac Celestiq, Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV, Chevrolet Blazer EV, and Buick Wildcat Concept. Michael has played a pivotal role in GM’s transformation, challenging his teams to innovate as society experiences a massive shift in mobility, championing new technologies and accelerating speed to market. Previously, he served in roles across GM Design in the U.S. and global markets. His first assignment at GM was as a designer at GM Holden. He holds an associate diploma of art industrial design from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
Brad Wilson, CEO and copartner, Ace Hotel Group and Atelier Ace
Brad Wilson is CEO and copartner of Ace Hotel Group and the brand’s in-house creative agency Atelier Ace, where he oversees growth and operations, develops new hotels and collaborative projects, and leads operational and creative teams. After attending Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Brad honed his skills at major hospitality brands like Hilton International, Park Hyatt, and Westin. He launched the first W Hotel and helped guide the Starwood brand’s early days, rising to VP of operations for W Worldwide. Directly prior to helming Ace Hotel, Brad helped build James Hotels from the ground up, serving as CEO.
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