Editor's note: Vote for your pick among the winners of Inc.'s Best in Class Awards for today's best-designed American-made products. Inc.com will announce the Readers' Choice winner on Tuesday, May 26.

He might work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, but Troy Conrad Therrien has a very utilitarian sensibility when it comes to design. 

"It's ideas and concepts that win, and it's in the execution where you can take it through past the finish line," says Therrien, who bridges previously distinct fields like architecture, technology, and design as the museum's curator of digital initiatives. "For me, an iconic idea today is more interesting than an iconic design, but I feel like you can't separate ideas and designs."

As a judge for this year's Best in Class Awards, Therrien helped choose winners from more than 30 finalists. He also offered up his views on the future of design, as well as some of commentary on this year's winners. Check out the highlights from that conversation below.

What companies use excellent design?

The obvious company that's winning at design at scale is Apple. To be honest, I was a little bit bearish on Apple for a little while until the Apple Watch came out. It really is one of the big products to change the way that we're going to live our lives. Another one that comes to mind is Magic Leap. What it purports to do is to shoot laser beams into your eyes and turn your brain into a display mechanism. 

Why did you choose August Smart Lock as a winner?

It's hard not to bet on a product designed by Yves Béhar. I feel like the August Smart Lock was really compelling because a lock for your home is not something that you're going to swap out every two years like an iPhone. It's something you want to be there for 30 years.

What is the biggest opportunity for entrepreneurs in the world of design today?

And one of the biggest issues that the smart home industry and others must overcome is how to create products that can last beyond the typical cycle of obsolescence of technological products. A great strategy for doing that is using a form of design simplicity. What is something that doesn't really kind of shout at you as a new product you need to swap out every couple of years, but is something that can blend into your home and into your life?

How is technology influencing fields of architecture and design?

By understanding technology you can operate in entirely different ways as a designer, an artist, a thinker, and even a philosopher. So I really think of design as a statement of the world that you live in. For me it's kind of an extension of architecture. To build any kind of edifice as an architect, you're really building a world, you're building a whole idea of what the world is around you and how you want people to live in it, and to do that today, you really have to understand how technology works. It doesn't mean every product has to be a whiz-bang technological solution, but I think it really means understanding what the core currents flowing underneath historical change today are. A lot of those are being driven by technology.

What makes a design iconic?

I kind of feel like "iconicity" is moving from a space of aesthetics into a space of ideas. The idea of Disegno (design or drawing), which appeared during the Renaissance in Italy, was the idea of drawing something and making a design, but it was also the word for idea. Today we may be moving into a post-iconic iconicity where it's not just about the image, but also about the idea. The kinds of technological networks that we have today are really about pushing ideas around the world even more than they are about pushing images around the world.

How might these changes influence product design in the future?

Maybe you need to find a totally different architect, an architect who maybe hasn't been covering the glossy pages of the architecture magazines and blogs around the world, somebody who thinks in kind a way that has yet to be recognized and certified.