From the logos that litter our social media feeds to the buildings we pass by every day on our way to work, design infiltrates our lives, even when we don’t realize it. And when we do start to pay attention, it’s impossible not to wonder who’s behind the shapes, colors, textures and structures of the brands, media, and objects that surround us in our daily lives.
Sometimes we don’t even realize the ubiquity of design until something changes, like when Google releases a new Google Doodle—suddenly we’re aware that the logo we see every time we open our Chrome browsers is different. Other times, design smacks us in the face, like when a new monumental building fills up the skyline. If you’ve ever looked at architectural renderings of the future, you can imagine how dizzying these design changes can be. Take a handful of proposals for upcoming projects — the world might look a whole lot different in the future.
While architecture may be the most noticeable form of design, graphic designers have a big impact on our lives as well. Many of the most prominent ones today you can even find on Twitter. And of the ones that are no longer alive, their influence still lives on in everything from the New York subway map to the Coca-Cola label.
Besides graphic and architecture, which may be on two different ends of the design spectrum, our list also covers people who are behind some of the most useful objects ever invented, from the cars we drive to the chairs we sit on. And don’t think we left out Apple’s head designer, Jonathan Ive, either. The fact that there’s an impeccably constructed object in almost everyone’s purse or pocket speaks to how impactful design can be. Check out our list of the most influential designers of all time.