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.
The former lead designer for the New York Times website, Khoi Vinh, is known for revolutionizing the design direction of the venerable publication. When Khoi Vinh weighs in on design-related matters, designers listen.
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You may or may not recognize Jonathan Ive’s name, but you certainly know his work. The lead designer at Apple, I 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.
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Chip Kidd is a book designer at New York publication giant Alfred Knoph. In the past 25 years, he has almost single-handedly revolutionized the world of print design, relying on his quirky sense of humor and a sharp eye for design to create book covers that transcend the ordinary.
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Stefan Sagmeister is a German graphic designer who has become very well known in a relatively short time. He has released several books of his work, which are known for their completely unconventional approach to design problems.
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David Carson is the father of “grunge” style design: a 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.
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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. 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.
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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 worldwide. It’s almost impossible to find a subway map anywhere that hasn’t been influenced by Vignelli’s brilliant, minimalist design.
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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 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.
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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.