7 of the most iconic designers of all time

Issue 250 of Computer Arts saw the 20 most influential designers of the past 20 years announced, as voted by their peers. And while the CA team had the expert panel's attention, they were asked to look a little further back and nominate the most iconic designers of all time.

The result is this excellently varied rundown of some of the heaviest hitters from across the design spectrum. It's hard to argue against any of these, but we're sure there are plenty of other names that deserve to be included; let us know who you'd choose in the comments.

01. Tibor Kalman

Iconic designers - Tibor Kalman

Tibor Kalman was the founding editor-in-chief of Colors magazine - "a magazine about the rest of the world"

"Tibor Kalman is my all-time design hero," says Studio Dumbar's Liza Enebeis, "a man full of brilliant ideas that were portrayed in the simplest form. Sometimes all it took was a single image or word to convey his message. He had the unique ability of using humour to put across poignant messages. I met him in person in 1995. But I couldn't say anything – I just stared and smiled continuously. I was such an idiot!"

02. Milton Glaser

Iconic designers - Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser and his iconic New York branding

Milton Glaser's rich and varied body of work made Paul Willoughby from Human After All realise that creativity isn't tied to a particular genre of work. "A creative can be an illustrator, designer and art director," he tells us. "He's now much like the creative community's own philosopher; his insightful musings keep him both a delightful commentator and a valued mentor."

03. John Hegarty

Iconic designers - John Hegarty

John Hegarty - the H in BBH - designed the agency's black sheep logo

John Hegarty of BBH is the go-to design icon for Jon Waring of 3Sixty Design. "His symbol of a black sheep for BBH is so concise, yet speaks volumes about their approach. Every time I see his work, I think, 'I wish I'd done that!'"

04. Neville Brody

Iconic designers - Neville Brody

Here's a fresh-faced Neville Brody as seen in issue 1 of Computer Arts

"Like most graphic design students of the time, Neville Brody was my design hero," says Sunita Yeomans of SSHY Creative. "I had his book and poster on my wall. Donkey's years later, I attended a talk about design education at the Design Museum. He was there, as controversial as ever. He made me want to teach, which I'm now doing at London College of Communication."

05. Lance Wyman

Iconic designers - Lance Wyman

Lance Wyman in his studio, with a selection of past work on display

For Sebastian Padilla of Mexico City's Anagrama, Lance Wyman is something of a local hero. "Lance Wyman is a master of visual synthesis and has made a huge impact on Mexico City's inhabitants. Since we were students, we held him [in high regard]. We have definitely used him as a direct reference to aid us in developing icons for our brands."

06. Massimo Vignelli

Iconic designers - Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli's identity work for American Airlines is a true design classic

As far as creative director Mads Jakob Poulsen is concerned, Massimo Vignelli is one of the last old-school legends of design. "I met him in one of his last public appearances," he tells us, "and he was as charming and funny as he was talented – a true designer who also designed his entire life and, poetically, his own funeral. Truly one of the greats."

07. Malcolm Swatridge

The Partners, as showcased in this Computer Arts video from 2011, has been making waves since 1983, and Spencer Buck of Taxi Studio was luckily enough to have co-founder Malcolm Swatridge as a tutor at college. "He taught me a lot about humility, humour and hard graft, and 'Big Ideas' too – what they're all about, how to recognise them and create them."

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.