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The 200 best design moments in our lifetime - part 1

Back in 1995 the first issue of Computer Arts was launched, and 17 years and 199 issues later the team compiled what they believe to be 200 of the best design moments within our lifetime. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the first 50...

01. The launch of Computer Arts

December 1995: The first issue of Computer Arts is a hit, looking at software and hardware for people passionate about creating imagery using a Mac or PC, and showing them how to do it. The striking cover image here relates to one of the main features - a quirky guide to image manipulation.

02. Neville Brody at the Royal College

Internationally known, thanks to his work on UK style magazines The Face and Arena, Neville Brody oversees a redesign of The Times as head of Research Studios. He designs numerous typefaces in his illustrious career, and in 2011 is appointed head of the Communication Art & Design department at the Royal College of Art, London.

03. Trainspotting poster design

1996's Trainspotting provides an influential book, film, soundtrack and attitude for the late 1990s. Part of this package, in terms of graphic design, is the movie's promotional poster by Stylorouge. Simple and clean with monotone profile shots of each character offset by bright orange, and white line and type work, like the film itself, this poster attracts many imitators in the future.

04. Riding with Wyld Stallyons

Pixelsurgeon founders Richard May and Jason Arber pool their talents once again, joining Chris Sayer to form moving image production house Wyld Stallyons in 2006. The following year they release their own short film, The Doll. May leaves, but the team grows to include six more directors, developing a veritable Who's Who client list before closing its doors in 2012.

05. The healing brush tool

Photoshop's layers panel changes the look and feel of digital illustration in the late 1990s, but with Photoshop 7 in 2002, image enhancement comes to the fore with the healing brush tool. By sampling the area around a blemish it can 'heal' a tear, fold, spot or wrinkle with a few clicks of the mouse. The application receives a new painting engine, too.

06. MyFonts levels the playing field

Despite the democratisation of type thanks to FontLab and Fontographer, it's difficult to really compete against the big foundries. MyFonts launches in 1999 and provides the answer: anyone can upload a font and sell it directly to designers. It also creates the innovative tool What The Font - scan and upload a piece of type and it'll tell you what the font is.

07. Flash on the beach

Flash maniacs from around the globe have been making the trek to Brighton in greater numbers every year since the founding of flash on the Beach by John Davey in 2006. Sometimes they leap into the sea once they get there, but most of their time is spent listening to inspiring creatives who share their flash design skills, ideas and more. in 2012 the event is rebranded.

08. Sagmeister's coins

Stefan Sagmeister, along with Joe Shouldice and Richard The, creates a huge mosaic in an Amsterdam square in September 2008. The phrase 'obsessions make my life worse but my work better' is written in different coins on the pavement, then left to the vagaries of Dutch life. Some try to steal the coins; others protect the artwork. Police eventually remove the installation.

09. Photoshop comics

During the 1990s, English artist Dave McKean redefines the way comic books can be created. He uses Photoshop to montage handmade elements, imagery and textures in his work on Neil Gaiman's groundbreaking graphic novels, The Sandman.

10. David Bowie's Heathen

In 2002, Jonathan Barnbrook turns to Priori, a typeface he co-designed, to create the album artwork for David Bowie's Heathen. It fits perfectly with the religious/anti-religious theme used in the work, alongside a slightly supernatural-looking photo of the singer.

11. Head, heart and hips by Big Active

2005's The Big Active Book of Sex sees an array of the designers and illustrators signed with this creative agency collaborating on 208 visually charged pages that explore seductive and sexy commercial artwork, including bespoke images for the book.

12. Vault49 moves to New York

Having established a groundbreaking visual style combining illustrative and photographic elements with vibrant colours, Jonathan Kenyon and John Glasgow take their creative practice across the ocean in February 2004 for continued success in the US.

13. Phunk Studio's CA cover

Classmates Alvin Tan, Melvin Chee, Jackson Tan and William Chan form the Singapore-based collective in December 2005 and rocket from being teenagers pushing the parameters of their software to the rock stars of the entire Asian design scene.

14. The Face: RIP

After 24 years, legendary British style mag The Face finally closes up shop in May 2004. It was a vehicle for trendsetting type expert Neville Brody from 1981 to 1986 when he designed and art-directed the title.

15. Peter Saville designs Suede's Coming Up and Pulp's This Is Hardcore

Having been the key designer at Factory Records in the 1980s, Peter Saville's influence on the look of Britpop in the 1990s includes his striking yellow and black cover for Suede's Coming Up in 1996, followed by the artwork for Pulp's This Is Hardcore in 1998.

16. Mark Porter for the Guardian

In May 2005, with Mark Porter leading the way, the Guardian's new look is one of the most influential newspaper redesigns of all time. He changes it to a smaller format, the Berliner, brings larger colour photography to the fore, and commissions Schwarz and Barnes to create its typeface.

17. Toy Story inspires 3D revolution

John Lassetter's dream of creating a feature film entirely digitally puts Pixar on the map in November 1995, and soon it becomes one of the most influential production companies in the world, leading the way in character design, 3D animation and visual effects.

18. iPad says 'touch me'

In April 2010, wonderful screen resolution and iPad's multi-touch functionality brings a new layer of possibilities to UX design for digital designers. for everyone else, the iPad changes how we consume media from films to games, music and more.

19. Hello Airside, goodbye Airside

Founded in a London basement by three creatives with their Macs, Airside proves the perfect definition of a design studio in the digital age. While old-school agencies and production houses do things big and expensive, Nat Hunter, Fred Deakin and Alex Maclean offer their clients efficiency without scrimping on creativity.

Well known for its collaboration with Deakin's band Lemon Jelly, the studio also does hugely successful work for Virgin Atlantic, Greenpeace, Sony and others. Set up in 1998, it nearly goes bust a few times with the industry's ups and downs, but the team finally part ways, tearfully, in March 2012.

20. Digital excellence with Autumn Whitehurst

Few mainstream publications realise the potential of digital illustration until Autumn Whitehurst comes along in 2002. Her fashion imagery proves to art directors that they can employ digital artists to craft auras and sensations that the camera can't capture. Sleeker silks, smoother skins and shinier sparkles - we take the road to hyper-reality.

21. And it's bye bye to Flash?

In 2011, Adobe announces that it will stop developing the Flash Player for mobile devices. "HTML5 [is] the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms," the company says in a press release. Of course it doesn't mean Flash as an authoring platform is dead, however. In fact, far from it...

22. Craig Ward's words

British typographer Craig Ward inspires a new wave of creativity in 2009 by constructing letterforms out of just about anything: horses, people, shards of glass, torn paper - you name it. He also forms pictures of just about anything using type. Jessica Hische, Steven Bonner and a whole range of other creatives have joined in with this reassessment of letterforms.

23. It's Nice That is nice

Prior to appearing in our 2007 Graduate Showcase, Alex Bec teams up with Will Hudson to found one of today's best-loved daily design blogs, It's Nice That. It becomes a design publishing company in its own right.

24. Shepard Fairey's 'Hope' poster

From drawing on his skateboard and making stickers bearing the face of Andre the Giant, Shepard Fairey becomes one of the most influential graphic designers in the world. Shrouded in controversy, his 2008 'Hope' poster - a three-colour screenprint of Barack Obama - is hailed as one of the most effective political illustration in generations.

25. Whale Trail by ustwo

Collaborating with Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, the digital creatives at ustwo bound from the design scene into gaming with their Whale Trail app in 2011. With Rhys providing the song and lyrics, ustwo shoots the video to promote the app it designed.

26. Photoshop 4 gets layers

A whole new style of carefully honed and textured digital illustration is already quietly developing when Photoshop 4 arrives in November 1996, bringing with it Adjustment layers. With filters, they offer new ways of generating unique atmospheres in complex images.

27. FontLab 3 for Mac launched

In 1998, FontLab 3 becomes the dominant typeface design package almost by default. Macromedia had just stopped developing Fontographer, which was acquired by FontLab in 2005. Today, FontLab can be used to create fonts with up to 64,000 characters.

28. Myspace rebrands to My________

Remember when Myspace reigned supreme, with millions of users creating their own online profiles, sharing their tastes in music, fashion and design? It was even a popular platform for illustration and design portfolios, but its decline has been steep since Facebook arrived. It rebrands in October 2010.

29. The perverse optimist

In May 1999 Tibor Kalman passes away, aged just 49. The following September a fantastic tribute to him is published, co-edited and designed by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut. Its 420 pages cover the Hungarian designer's thoughts on magazine design, video production, typography and more.

30. Cometh the iMac

Computers need to look better, and Apple knows it - so British product designer Jonathan Ive is hired. With a futuristic 1960s plastic look and feel, the iMac replaces beige and black boxes in 1998 with curvaceous, colourful, translucent machines that hark back to the Mac Classic with their all-in-one form. Today's iMac is the staple of studios all over.

31. Luke Hayman joins New York mag

Joining New York magazine as design director in 2004, Luke Hayman follows in the footsteps of Milton Glaser, who oversaw the publication's heyday in the 1970s. Hayman later joins Pentagram, where he works on the redesign of Time magazine.

32. Coudal Partners starts Layer Tennis

Coudal Partners' Layer Tennis, which combines collaboration, creativity and competition, has the design world buzzing in 2001. Given certain visual resources and 15 minutes per volley, two Photoshop users can bat an image back and forth to each other online, with fans voting on the winner.

33. Nike runs away with Better World

Wieden+Kennedy's online designers break the code barrier in 2010 with the Better World site for Nike. Its impressive use of parallax scrolling effects results in a more engaging user experience using HTML5.

34. Vince Frost releases Frost*

At 500 pages in length, Vince Frost apologises to the trees after launching a book looking back on his greatest design achievements, in 2006. Previously an associate director at Pentagram in London, he had launched Frost Design in Australia in 2004.

35. Cut it out, Jen Stark

American creative Jen Stark has a huge influence on the handmade design trend in 2005 with her paper sculpture displays. Made from layers of paper, they develop into colourful topographic forms, inspiring thousands of artists around the world.

36. QuarkXPress 4.0 shows off its curves

QuarkXPress is king of the hill when it comes to DTP in 1997, with version 4 introducing Bezier curves and freehand vector tools for creating lines, shapes and text paths, plus clipping paths for picture elements.

37. Haviv joins Chermayeff & Geismar

The New York identity design duo Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar bring some fresh blood into the organisation in 2003 by hiring Sagi Haviv, who has been learning their design secrets, and introduces motion and digital skills to their repertoire.

38. Hello Peskimo

From unique superheroes to video-game characters, and on to monkeys and kittens, Peskimo makes its name in character creation in 2004. As well as creating its own line of vinyl toy characters with the likes of Kid Robot, it springboards onto some pretty high-profile illustration work. It also creates its own line of screenprinted artworks and creates the art elements of an app for the Tate Modern.

39. Bingo gets a hate on

Illustrator Mr Bingo's 2011 'Hate Mail' project goes down a treat, earning plenty of exposure. It's simple enough - punters send him £10 and their address, and he draws something on an old postcard, writes an offensive message and mails it to them.

40. Are you going to OFFF?

The Online Flash Film Festival is one of the most influential creative events there is, and has shifted in its focus from digital design to culture in general. Joshua Davis will attend the Barcelona event for the 10th year running this year.

41. Catch Me If You Can

With this eye-catching retro homage, Kuntzel+Deygas take its motion graphics skills back to the 1960s, innovating not just with silhouette shapes, linework and modernist type, but with subtle textures too, in the 2002 titles to Spielberg's biopic of conman Frank Abagnale Jr, Catch Me If You Can.

42. Can videogames look handmade?

The answer is yes. Designer and director Rex Crowle comes from a background in gaming with Lionhead Studios, and helps make 2008's LittleBigPlanet feel as textured as a Brothers Quay animation, with a lot of fun level designing thrown in for good measure.

43. Jeremyville x Computer Arts

The eclectic Australian illustrator has inspired fellow creatives worldwide with a style reminiscent of old Disney and Popeye cartoons, picture books and the California low-brow scene. Today his repertoire includes T-shirts, bags, trainers, toys and work for outstanding clients including Computer Arts. He creates our cover in June 2006.

44. iTunes App Store

Apple's iPhone and its apps give designers plenty of scope to try new things, helping evolve the way people interact with their phones, games, media channels and each other. The App Store, a fulcrum for these developments, launches in 2008.

45. Exit through the gift shop

Bristol street artist Banksy brings his ironic creative wit to the big screen in January 2010, directing a film that premieres at the Sundance festival. It follows a French street-art lover in the US as he tracks down the anonymous artist and ends up befriending him.

46. Play with the code

Paul Neave launches in 1999 as an experimental playground where he can test out projects using ever-new types of code, from ActionScript through to HTML5 and beyond. It's riddled with interactive toys that he has made, and some impressive client work too.

47. Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Part of the Hipgnosis art and design group famous for its work with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin in the 1960s and 1970s, Storm Thorgerson continues to bring his bold and eye-catching imagery to contemporary bands. In 1999 he creates the Bury the Hatchet cover for The Cranberries, and in 2001 he does three different covers for their album Wake Up And Smell The Coffee.

48. A Gap in the logic

It's a tumbleweed moment when Gap unveils a new logo in 2010. Customers revolt using Facebook and Twitter to let the clothing company know what they think. The stock exchange catches wind of this, and shares in Gap dip. Designers, meanwhile, say the graphic looks like something made using the free tools that came with Windows 97. The old logo comes back.

49. Music, design and Lemon Jelly

With some decent software and internet access, any designer can be multidisciplinary. The iconic studio Airside and electronic band Lemon Jelly sum this up, with designer and musician Fred Deakin being a member of both the studio and band. The band makes great music and the studio matches that with fantastic visuals, notably for the 2000 album

50. The David Hockney identity

Arguably Britain's greatest living artist, David Hockney has a worldwide reputation for his pop art abstracts and landscape paintings. For his January 2012 show A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, Pentagram's Harry Pearce uses a behind-the-scenes image of Hockney finishing off a mural on the banners and billboard posters for the event.

Part 1: 1-50 | Part 2: 51-100 | Part 3: 101-150 | Part 4: 151-200