Since the 1960’s, Thompson has embarked on one design enterprise after another. After a brief stint at MoMA as a curator, she became the the founding editor of I.D. Magazine, operated the influential design retail store Design Research in Boston with her late husband architect Benjamin Thompson. She worked on high-profile commissions around the world such as the master plan for Times Square, Grand Central and Governor’s Island in New York. Now 90, Thompson is currently hard at work on a forthcoming exhibition about the Bauhaus for Harvard University’s Fogg Museum.

Chwast started drawing at age seven, and, like Glaser and Thompson, shows no signs of hanging up his drawing pens. “I don’t understand retiring. I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t play golf. I have to sit at a drawing table or else it’s a wasted day,” he recently told Fast Company. At 85, Chwast launched his first Kickstarter campaign to publish a book about his decades-long crusade against war and military violence.

Seymour Chwast, still at work.
Seymour Chwast, still at work.
Image: Greg Preston

Now 90, master weaver and gardener Jack Larsen is also writing a book—his 13th. Larsen has worked on the interiors of numerous important buildings collaborating with famous architects Marcel Breuer, Louis Kahn and Frank Lloyd Wright, and credits them with offering him the secret to lifelong intellectual vitality, by forcing him to learn new things every day. Today, he runs a 16-acre design experiment on the ”thoughtfully considered life,” in Long Island, NY, called LongHouse Reserve.

Presented in a Q&A format, Twenty Over Eighty teems with perspective from a time when the design profession was just beginning to be codified. The compact volume guides readers through a generation of designers whose pioneering ideas shaped the world as we know it. Sadly, since Kwun and Smith started on the book two years ago, a few of their subjects have already passed away. Graphic designer and AIGA medallist Deborah Sussman died weeks after being interviewed in 2014. Architect and the original Target design ambassador Michael Graves passed away on May 12, 2014. German industrial designer Richard Sapper, whose design classics include the counterweighted marvel Tizio table lamp to the IBM ThinkPad (early inspiration for the aesthetics of today’s laptops) died on Dec. 31 last year.

At a time when we’re still debating the right balance between work and life, toil and vacation, Kwun and Smith offer evidence that strict divisions may not be necessary. The enduring creative genius of people like Glaser and Thompson proves that it is indeed possible to find what you love, work on it every day and never get tired of it.

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