In his 14-year tenure as CEO of Philips Design, Stefano Marzano has proved that innovation can give a company a crucial edge in a market chock-full of commodity products.
The Italian-born Marzano heads the autonomous creative division of Dutch consumer-electronics giant Philips. Since 1991, he has more than quadrupled employees at Philips Design, to 450, in 12 international offices, making it one of the world’s largest creative agencies. He’s also overseen a string of commercial and creative successes such as the curvy Senseo coffee maker, launched in 2001, which sold more than 10 million units.
Now he’s striving to perfect his ideal of “ambient intelligence”—everyday objects that sense and anticipate our needs. Earlier in 2005 his team scooped up a prestigious design award for its new mri scanner, which lets patients choose music and décor to calm their nerves during scans. Choices go onto a radio-frequency identification tag patients carry; it automatically adjusts the room’s ambience.