Mario Botta's SFMOMA table clock for Mondaine
Credit: David Sharpe Mario Botta's SFMOMA table clock for Mondaine

Nothing is more horrifying for architects than to hear their work called “dated.” The very idea makes the blood run cold. Instead, the fervent hope is to create a building that will achieve design immortality—a Thorncrown Chapel, a Farnsworth House, a Falling Water.

Architects striving for enduring architecture must mix equal parts compelling design and materials that wear with dignity. But which products will transcend time both functionally and stylistically?

For our annual Architects’ Choice showcase, we asked 10 durable design luminaries to tell us which materials they deem worthy of the “timeless” label and why. We turned to firms whose years in practice give them a long view on specifications and applications.

We asked them some probing ponderables: What constitutes an enduring product or material? Why do some products designed more than 60 years ago still look freshly conceived today—an Eames molded plywood lounge chair, for example, or a Saarinen Tulip table? Our pros provide their special insights.

For good measure, we also asked for their short list of favorite everyday objects. The collection was revealing and surprising. Can a broom, a bottle of scotch, and a motorcycle rise to the level of high design?

What would you pick? We’d like to hear from you. Meanwhile, take a look at our editors’ choices of timeless everyday designs here.

View all of the 2010 architects' choice articles here.