Web3 has taken over the industry as this generation’s pivotal platform since the emergence of e-commerce and social media in the ’00s. From Carolina Herrera selling a digital dress for $5,000 to Tommy Hilfiger, Vans, and many others buying spaces on Roblox, it’s indisputable that investing in web3 is paramount to the survival of major brands in the long-term. However, there’s always the constant trial of breaking through the noise and dominating headlines and feeds. The right digital design collaborators can help to keep a brand competitive and culturally relevant.
With that in mind, here is a list of our top five boundary-pushing digital designers:
Known for his monochromatic but vibrant industrial aesthetic, Russian-born, New York- and Paris-based designer Harry Nuriev of Crosby Studios creates physical and digital interiors, objects, and garments. The latest installment from Nuriev was a VR-driven pop-up retail space with the fashion platform Zero10. Presented during New York Fashion Week, the temporary space featured virtual clothing designs by Crosby Studios, which guests were able to try on in AR using special QR codes. Others he has collaborated with on digital projects include the likes of Valentino, Nike, Hypebeast and Vogue. Nuriev is currently working on a game in The Sandbox where players can design their own interiors.
The digital artist and designer Max Arnautov has gained recognition for his collaborations with Kanye’s Yeezy and Demna’s Balenciaga. What started as an experimental Instagram account morphed quickly into something of a calling card for the Russian artist. Regularly modeling his original digital garments and accessories that are inspired by the aforementioned designers and the rendering of a face-helmet version of the Yeezy foam shoes especially left many in the metaverse vying for the physical manifestation. It would only be a matter of time before the artist picked up a proper partnership.
Since setting up shop in 2018 with producer Nick Vernet, Rick and Claire Farin, the founders of Los Angeles-based experimental creative studio Actual Objects, have worked with many big brands, magazines and artists including Travis Scott, Marine Serre, Hood by Air, Ssense, Trippie Redd, and Vogue to digitize their visions. With a radical and particularly transgressive approach, the team’s work is almost immediately recognizable. Despite their differing backgrounds (Claire’s in drawing and painting and Rick’s in architecture and music), the two had collaborated for several years before the formal outfit was established. They now specialize in digitizing famous faces like Grimes’ and even whole metaworlds, using the platform Unreal Engine to exact their unique uncanny photorealism.
Paris-born Freeka Tet is a multi-city-based experimental designer whose broad practice includes coding, animatronics, prosthetics, hacking, video plunderphonics and more. Inspired by internet culture and the often irrational social behavior within, his work critically, yet playfully reflects what he sees. Collaborations include multiple Collina Strada campaigns, including the animatronics for FW22 and Collina Land video game with GucciFest for SS21; an animated NFT with the cult musician Aphex Twin; the digitally manipulated stage video for Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker’s performance at the VMAs in 2021. Other clients include Childish Gambino, Google, Chromeo, Prada, Nike, and The Whitney.
The Paris-based architecture firm Zyva Studio was founded by artist and designer Anthony Authié. An active participant in the exploration of physical and virtual architecture since 2019, he has since developed his concept of “trans-design,” to bridge the two worlds and their occupants. Inspired by a range of influences from reality TV to Manga to body builders, his work is quickly recognizable by its vibrant colors and cartoon-like, unreal presence. His most recent project, commissioned by Elle Décoration France for the Paris Design Week project D3SIGN CAPSULE, was an NFT collaboration with designer Sam Buckley. The two pulled from their shared appreciation for gaming to create a digital chair, whose Tetris-inspired, multi-hued parts can be rearranged to the owner’s liking.