Tastemakers: A Look At 10 Influential Living Designers

By . Filed in Web Design

A tastemaker is someone who has the power to dictate the course of opinion within an industry. The design community has no shortage of people who, through the respect they’ve earned with their work and veteran status, can write a single blog post which can influence thousands of designers.

This superpower can be used for good or evil, inspiring designers to achieve new heights of creativity, or inciting the wrath of the community, justified or not, against an unpopular trend. We’re going to look at ten of the most prominent designers in today’s industry – what they’ve contributed to design, and they have influenced the world of design today.

Khoi Vinh

The former lead designer for the New York Times’ website, Khoi Vinh is known for revolutionizing the design direction of the venerable publication. His personal website, subtraction.com, is currently one of the leading blogs about design. When Khoi Vinh weighs in on design-related matters, designers listen.


(Image Source: theformed.com)

Jonathan Ive

You may or may not recognize Jonathan Ive’s name, but you certainly know his work. The lead designer at Apple, Ive came to prominence when he designed the famous “jewel color” iMacs back in the 90s. He is responsible for Apple’s current sleek, minimal design.


(Image Source: businessweek.com)

Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd is a book designer at New York publication giant Alfred Knoph. In the past 25 years or so, he has almost single-handedly revolutionized the world of print design, relying on his quirky sense of humor and sharp eye for design to create book covers that transcend the ordinary.


(Image Source: chipkidd.com)

Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister is a German graphic designer who has become very well known in a relatively short amount of time. He has released several books of his work, which is known for its completely unconventional approach to design problems.


(Image Source: design.fh)

David Carson

David Carson is the father of “grunge” style design: that gritty, noisy, gridless style that dominated the design world in the late 90s and early 2000s. Many imitators came after Carson and attempted to copy his style, but very few actually understood the philosophy enough to be successful at it.


(Image Source: edno.bg)

Paula Scher

An industry veteran, Paula Scher has been designing since the 70s and has worked with some of the most well-known and prestigious corporate clients in existence. Her unique, “maximalist” approach to typography influenced many designers from the 70s and early 80s all the way to today. She is currently a principal designer at the New York firm Pentagram.


(Image Source: theatlantic.com)

Massimo Vignelli

This iconic, multi-disciplinary designer is almost a household name (well, in design households, that is). He is famous for designing the colorful maps of the New York City subway system, a design that has become so popular that it is now the standard for subway maps all over the world. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find a subway map anywhere that hasn’t been influenced by Vignelli’s brilliant, minimalist design.


(Image Source: theepochtimes.com)

Vignelli has said: “If you can design one thing, you can design everything” which in this designer’s opinion, is some of the most insightful advice a designer can heed. Having a broad appreciation for design in general, rather than a narrow, specific discipline, not only helps you become a better designer, it also sets you apart from others who are afraid to branch out.

April Greiman

April Grieman, along with collaborator Jayme Odgers, is responsible for the “New Wave” design style that rose to prominence in the 1980s. She was one of the first designers to use the computer as a tool for design, realizing the dream that Andy Warhol held about the future of computer-generated creative work.


(Image Source: ssahn.com)

Michael Bierut

A former protege of Massimo Vignelli, Bierut has long since come into his own as a designer with his award-winning work with the renowned New York print firm Pentagram. Like Vignelli, he is known for his multi-disciplinary approach to design, heading a team of designers who work not only with graphics and type, but also with environmental and editorial design.


(Image Source: casualoptimist.com)

Milton Glaser

A venerable industry giant, Glaser is responsible for perhaps one of the most widely known designs in the world: the “I ♥ NY” logo. A classic design which has spawned hundreds, if not thousands, of inspired designs, the logo’s simplicity and modern approach gives it an ageless, fresh look, even after nearly 40 years since its creation.


(Image Source: nytimes.com)

What Do You Think?

What other living designers do you think should have been included in this list? (Come on, you’re designers – I know you have opinions coming out your ears!) Are there any younger designers you think are starting to make serious waves in the industry? Tell us your predictions, your observations, or your grievances!

Author:

Addison is the author of Food Identities, a blog that explores the crossroads of food, design, and culture. She's written some things, designed other things, and eaten a whole lot of food.

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