21 of The Most Influential Designers of All Time

Aleksandr Rodchenko

Everywhere you look, you see designs of all shapes, sizes, and colors. From the logos you see on your social media feed to the architectural feats that get your attention every time you cruise down the street, you’re influenced by design more than you think.

But the moment you start to pay closer attention, you can’t help but wonder who and what kind of person is behind the rich colors, textures, structures, and shapes of the designs that surround you. As far as designers are concerned, there are a few names that you’ll recognize. They influenced numerous areas in many ways throughout their lives.

Here is a quick look at some of the most influential designers of all time.

21 Most Influential Designers

Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi is a Spanish Catalan architect and his magnum opus is none other than Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is a one of a kind structure, as it’s part naturalistic, part neo-gothic, and part hallucinatory dream.

What’s even more mind-blowing is that Gaudi was designing these types of spaces as early as the 20th century, which was obviously a far cry from the Art Nouveau influence on architecture made popular at the time by Victor Horta.

Gaudi also took to designing furniture, doors, and interior spaces, which seem as if they’re a part of the peculiarly seductive universe from which his architecture comes from. He is also the creator of pieces such as the gossip chair, a seat with a conjoined armrest.

Sagrada Familia

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller

Bucky Fuller was an American designer, inventor, systems theorist, neo-futuristic architect, and author. Fuller published over 30 books, popularizing or coining words such as synergetic, ephemeralization, and Spaceship Earth.

He was also the developer of several inventions, primarily architectural designs and he introduced the extensively known geodesic dome. The carbon molecules called fullerenes were then later named by the scientists for their appearance that look like geodesic spheres.

geodesic dome

Charles and Ray Eames

With furniture design and architecture as their media, the molded plywood lounge chair of Charles and Ray Eames was considered the first and the finest during its time when this was introduced back in the 1950s. Ever since that time, the chair together with the ottoman that comes with it has been in continuous production.

This also holds a spot in MoMA’s permanent collection in New York City. Aside from this exceptional contribution to the world of furniture design, the home of the Eames in Pacific Palisades stands as both a lived-in and livable fantasy interior.

eames chair

Frank Lloyd Wright

A true prolific, Frank Lloyd Wright was the designer of over 1,000 structures with more than 500 works completed throughout his career. Even though Wright was also the man behind the acclaimed New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Fallingwater is his magnum opus. It’s located in southwestern Pennsylvania and it showcases the epitome of the harmony between nature and man.

The Kauffmann Residence’s façade, which is equally as striking with its cantilevered slabs looking like they’re floating sublimely above the cascading waterfalls. However, Wright was the one who completely worked over the structure itself as well as the contents. The whole interior together with the furnishing was Wright’s work as well.

guggenheim dome

Aleksandr Rodchenko

Aleksandr Rodchenko is known as one of the founders of the Productivist movement that occurred during the Russian avant-garde art scene in the early 20th century. He emerged as a prolific sculptor, painter, graphic designer, photographer, architect, and industrial designer.

Rodchenko tried to combine all the different mediums together. He also took photos of the modern monuments of his time, designed bold and opinionated posters and graphics that spoke of his contempt for the propaganda, and tried to use design to shape a better world.

Aleksandr Rodchenko

Le Corbusier

If you’ll try to look back, Le Corbusier was painted in history as the type of man who could create pretty much anything. He was behind the rise of modernist architecture and high design, and he was regarded as a visionary for urban space. The idealistic designs of Corbusier range from the rather infamous Villa Savoye that epitomized his five key points in architecture to Chandigarh unfinished capital city complex.

Villa Savoye
Photograph by Flickr user Fernando Leiva

Frank Gehry

Two of the most popular works of Frank Gehry are the Walt Disney Concert Hall found in downtown Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum covered in titanium situated in Bilbao, Spain. These large structures boast of their unprecedented scale and form and are now attributed mainly to Gehry.

He’s the man behind the design of Seattle’s Experience Music Project and Prague’s Dancing House. it seems like the work of Gehry doesn’t require any kind of explanation because the forms are more than astonishing in their own right.

walt disney concert hall
Photograph by Flickr user Melanie Lazarow

Marcel Breuer

Just like most of his brilliant contemporaries, Breuer studied and taught at the Bauhaus during the 1920s. This is also where he took on the teaching position of the head of the carpentry workshop at the university. His familiarity with the unforgiving industrial design materials eventually leads to the most extensively recognized work of Hungarian Modernist art, the Wassily Chair.

Some might not be familiar with this name, but the bent tubular steel chair is not a stranger in your life. Breuer is also behind the building of the Whitney Museum of American Art, a familiar façade for the civilians and aesthetes of New York City.

Wassily Chair

James Dyson

An expert in product design, Forbes stated that Dyson created an exceptional level of excitement in the world of housekeeping that is typically reserved for plasma televisions and cellphones. But, they’re right, because bladeless fans and 360-degree swivel vacuums were never as compelling.

dyson

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born architect, was considered the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize back in the year 2004. Her global notoriety and status speak to her recognition and success as a designer of structure and space. In the year 2013, she made it through her first ever project in New York City, which is a boutique condo complex located near the High Line Park of said city.

Other than her geometric megastructures, she made furniture installations and had a hand in the design of a three-wheeled automobile. She also dabbled in footwear design to make a boot with Lacoste in 2009. It was in 2016 when she died. But, in spite of being more renowned for her job as an architect, Hadid designed lots of products that have the same aesthetics that made her popular worldwide.

zaha hadid

Dieter Rams

He worked with Braun, a renowned consumer product company, while they made some of their iconic items. Other than serving as Braun’s head, Rams has been an advocate of great functional design. As a matter of fact, he came up with ten principles that non-designers can use to assess whether a design is perfect or not.

braun

Saul Bass

If you’ve ever seen the series Anatomy of a Murder, Spartacus, or Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, you’ve encountered the most well-known works of Bass. Some other contributions include the logos of United Airways, Girl Scouts, and AT&T.

saul bass

Lloyd Groff Copeman

He was known as a prolific American inventor. Among the products he invented are the flexible rubber ice cube tray and the first electric stove. Copeman was raised by his parents on a farm in Hadley Township, Michigan that was incorporated into Farmer’s Creek, Michigan, which is located twenty miles east of Flint, Michigan. He also studied engineering at Michigan Agricultural College, which is now known as Michigan State University located in East Lansing, Michigan.

Ice cube tray

Kenichiro Ashida

In the video games industry, Nintendo is considered the most iconic company. Ashida was responsible for two of the most successful consoles that the industry has ever seen: the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS.

These two consoles brought something new to the industry of video games and are wildly successful. The work of Kenichiro Ashida has been enjoyed by millions of individuals worldwide.

nintendo ds

Stefan Sagmeister

The most recognizable and jarring work of Stefan Sagmeister, an Austrian native, was the infamous poster he made for AIGA in 1999. He opted to have the event’s text drawn on his own skin.

aiga

Marc Newson

He is an award-winning designer that has works ranging from furniture to luxurious yachts and aircraft. Apart from being one of the influential designers of his generation, the works of Newson are featured in a lot of contemporary design museums across the world.

marc newson

Jonathan Ive

Apple’s Senior Vice President and an English designer, Sir Jonathan Paul Ive oversees Apple Industrial Design Group and provides direction for Human Interface software teams in the company. Ive’s is also the designer of many Apple products such as iOS 7, the Apple Watch, and many iterations of iPads, iPhones, and Macs.

Steve Jobs considered Ives to be Apple’s spiritual partner, while Fortune magazine stated in 2010 that the Apple design motifs, which are the designs of Ives, set the course not just for Apple, but for design more broadly. He serves also as the narrator for the majority of the product reveal videos by Apple.

ipod

Adam Savage

He is an American special effects fabricator, industrial designer, TV personality, educator, and actor known as a co-host of Unchained Reaction and MythBusters. His model work appeared in major films like The Matrix Reloaded.

adam savage

Jim Wicks

Motorola, back in the day, was one of the trendiest cellphone manufacturers in the world. When the company unveiled the Moto Razr, it was an instant hit and made Motorola the leader of the cellphone market. The person behind the ingenious design of Razr was Jim Wicks.

moto razr

Tom Dixon

He is a globally renowned British designer and the creative director of eponymous brand Tom Dixon, which was established in 2002. Dixon’s works are included in the permanent collections of the most prestigious museums in the world including the MoMA and V&A. Tom Dixon built his universe through diverse experiences from contemporary lighting, music, accessories, and furniture.

tom dixon

Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas won the Miami Beach Convention Center Competition, meaning it was made with his design. Other than his continuing contributions to contemporary architecture, he is a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design for urban design and architecture.

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture or OMA was co-established by Koolhaas in 1975. In the late 90s, OMA was confronted with the transition into the virtual domain.  They decided to make a new company known as AMO. It’s a think tank that is dedicated to operating in areas beyond architecture’s traditional boundaries including graphic design, publishing, curating, fashion, technology, renewable energy, sociology, politics, and media.

miami beach convention center

Do you feel inspired? These designers are all at the top of their game and are influencers in their particular fields.

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