Feel the passion! Discover the top TED talks on design

TED, which stands for 'Technology, Entertainment and Design', is a series of conferences organised on a non-profit basis with the aim of spreading good ideas. For those who can't attend in person, the TED Talks podcast (opens in new tab) offers some of the best talks, and its videos have had more than one billion views.

The talks we've selected below give unique insight into design from some of the world's finest minds. As a Florida-based advertising agency (opens in new tab), we've found the insights they provide invaluable. Hopefully they can do the same for you - sparking inspiration and promoting alternative ways to think...

01. Design in the details (opens in new tab)

Paul Bennett (opens in new tab) is the chief creative officer at global design consultancy IDEO (opens in new tab). He shares examples of their work and how in some instances, going for the 'less sexy' option makes all the difference in a tool’s function. "Design doesn’t have to be about grand gestures," Bennett says, "but can solve small, universal and overlooked problems."

02. Good design makes you happy (opens in new tab)

Don Norman (opens in new tab) is author of the book The Design of Everyday Things (opens in new tab). Here he talks about impractical gold-plated juicers, fish on ping-pong tables and Google’s use of the letter O. More importantly, he touches on the intangible connection between design and emotion.

03. Tales of creativity and play (opens in new tab)

Tim Brown (opens in new tab) is the CEO and president of IDEO (opens in new tab). Through fun and interactive exercises, Brown displays the relationship of creative thinking and play. He emphasizes that: "It’s not an either/or, it’s an ‘and.’ You can be serious and play."

04. Design, discovery & humour (opens in new tab)

Here graphic designer David Carson (opens in new tab) takes you through his own discovery of passed works and progression through design. He advises others that, "You have to utilize who you are in your work. Nobody else can do that: nobody else can pull from your background, from your parents, your upbringing, your whole life experience."

05. Think big (opens in new tab)

Another TED talk from Tim Brown compares the design of past and present. He argue that while design is currently focussed on the "small canvases" of aesthetics, image, and fashion, it is beginning to trend back towards innovation. By considering the issues of systems rather than the individual, larger questions can be answered.

06. We are all designers (opens in new tab)

Journalist and author John Hockenberry (opens in new tab) argues that design must have intent. "An object imbued with intent; it has power, it’s treasure, we’re drawn to it," he explains. "An object devoid of intent; it’s random, it’s imitative, it repels us." He urges us to live a life with intent and to "get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged".

07. Great design is serious (not solemn) (opens in new tab)

Paula Scher (opens in new tab) is a graphic designer (and quite possibly the only one with a vendetta against Helvetica (opens in new tab)). Scher justifies how she both plays and gambles with her work. She explores the progression of her design through stages of "solemn and serious". Intriguingly she adds that "the best way to accomplish serious design… is to be totally and completely unqualified for the job."

08. Intricate beauty by design (opens in new tab)

Using a multitude of visual imagery, designer Marian Bantjes (opens in new tab) examines the right side of the brain. She tells the audience that, although ego has no place in graphic design, it was indeed ego in her design that propelled her career. Bantjes talks about the cross-pollination of inspiration and how it contributes to sustaining a functioning society.

09. How great design makes ideas new (opens in new tab)

Here legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser (opens in new tab) speaks about artist Piero della Francesca (opens in new tab) and the process of creating a poster. Glaser challenges the contemporary guidelines of poster design by shape and including copy, featuring comical notes of thought. "Fear of embarrassment drives me as much as any ambition," he admits.

10. How art, technology and design inform creative leaders (opens in new tab)

John Maeda (opens in new tab), president at the Rhode Island School of Design, discusses the overlap of technology, design, art and leadership and demonstrates the different messages conveyed through design. He jokes: "When people say I don’t get art… that means that art is working."

Words: Justin Ramb (opens in new tab)

Justin Ramb is CEO and chief creative officer of Florida-based advertising agency BigEye Creative (opens in new tab).

Liked this? Read these!

Did we miss your favourite TED talk off the list? Let us know about it in the comments!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.