It is with great sadness that we share the news that one of the great contemporary minds of design, Bill Drenttel, has passed away. Bill contributed to design discourse, thought leadership, and progressive action in myriad ways, and was a beacon to so many of us in the design community.
Perhaps best known as the publisher and co-founder of Design Observer (along with his wife Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut), he spearheaded and championed many other organizations and initiatives. The Winterhouse Institute created outstanding works of design and advocacy, and was early in celebrating and creating meaningful work and dialog around design for social change; his teaching at the Yale School of Management fortified the growing link between design and business; and his design directorship at Teach for All evidenced his commitment to education reform around the world.
As a former trustee of the Cooper-Hewitt, president emeritus of the AIGA, and chair of Aspen Design Conferences, Bill gave time and wisdom consistently and generously, creating ripples of impact across multiple contexts.
Bill was a tireless, fearless proponent of the power of design. Through his journey from advertising to publishing to advocating to teaching, his belief in design as a positive, social force was infectious. He was uncompromising and diligent. He brought people together who had shared interests, and carved out spaces for conversations if none existed. He paid attention in a way that was remarkable--when you worked with Bill it was always show time--and he inspired people around him to do their very best. That may sound like a cliché, but it was one of his design superpowers. His bar was high. And he played for keeps.
Bill was also a friend, and a great friend to Core77. I will cherish every moment I've shared with him, and will think of his wife and two children as acknowledgments and warm thoughts surround them at this difficult time.
Bill was one of the great intellects of design, practitioners of design, and advocates of design. The design world was a better place with Bill Drenttel in it. And he will be missed. But his teachings and his enthusiasms will live on in everyone he's touched, and he will be remembered deeply, fondly, and often.