When bad design has the ability to throw our day entirely off course, good design isn’t celebrated enough. From the moment we wake up – from a slumber that was monitored by a sleep tracking app – to scheduling how we work, eat, rest and play, good design sets the pace of our days. Our favourite designers create essential everyday products and we rarely know their names.
Thankfully, International Design Day (April 27) gives us a chance to fix that. Created by the International Council of Design, this day allows us to celebrate the positive social impacts that good design has on our everyday lives. The global network asks designers to reflect on the “well-being of people within their local environments” and to use innovative design to honour diversity and transcend borders.
This year’s theme is Suspended in Transition: “The old ways are no longer fit for purpose but the new ways have yet to be created. We find ourselves in this in-between, ‘liminal’ space. It feels urgent to act…”
Throughout the peaks of Covid-19 and the lows of lockdown, good design and technology helped improve our lines of communication, strengthen communities when we couldn’t be in the same room and ease the spread of misinformation. Now, as we watch a humanitarian crisis unfold in Ukraine, we are extending the new skills we learnt in 2020 to reach out, listen to and help people thousands of miles away.
Design matters. Whether it’s a small, everyday action like buying a book online or stepping up and engaging in social activism on a local or global scale, designers actively aim to improve the lives of others. So for International Design Day at UXDI, we name our favourite designers and acknowledge the positive changes that they bring into the world.
Dejan, UX Designer
Joe Gebbia, Co-founder and Head of Airbnb DesignStudio, Katie Dill, former director of Experience @ Airbnb, and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb
Airbnb.org, the company’s non-profit foundation, has so far committed to house 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. Also, a small thing that I find cool and valuable is that Katie and Joe popularised storyboarding in the UX process.
Jony Ive, former Chief Design Officer, Apple.
For all his industrial design work and also for leading Human Interface Design, Apple’s UX department.
Conor, Head of Product
Jon Kolko, founder of Austin Centre of Design, formerly of Frog Design
A brilliant communicator on the discipline of design and design education. Always generous in sharing his knowledge and insights with the design community.
Bas Beeren and Nalden of WeTransfer
For proving that you can craft a beautiful, uplifting user experience from something as simple and utilitarian as a file transfer app.
Ken, Sales Executive
My favourite UX Designer is a Croatian chap, Dejan Karin. Incredible!
Orla, Head of Course Production
Candi Williams, Head of Content Design, Bumble
I had the opportunity to meet Candi as part of the work on our upcoming Content Design course and I was instantly impressed. Not only is she a fantastic content designer, she’s also an incredible advocate for diversity, accessibility and inclusion in user experience design.
Ivan Zhao and the design team at Notion
As a fairly typical Type A personality, being able to organise my thoughts is key… Notion is where I do that. I love how customisable it is and how easy it is to incorporate visual content alongside text. It’s just a well designed, really usable tool that does exactly what it sets out to do and I use it on a daily basis.
Kate, Graphic Designer
Annie Atkins, Graphic Designer for Film
She creates and adds to the world of the film, giving background elements and key props personality and a sense of place. Her work for The Grand Budapest Hotel, among others, speaks for itself. It’s really interesting how she creates pieces for a time before designers or a completely imagined universe, but that they still feel and look authentic. It’s so great how open she is with sharing her process and insights with aspiring designers too.
Louise, Senior Content Writer
Jeff King, former Product Designer, Shazam
Back in the day, if I heard a song I liked but didn’t know the artist, I would try to remember the lyrics until I got home. There I would use the one and only computer in the household, log onto our terrible dial-up internet and frantically search lyrics shared on community message boards. Now, all I have to do is open up Shazam on time to catch the song and boom! I know everything I need to know about the song and artist.
Rin Park, Product Designer from Co-Star
Like most people during lockdown, I resorted to astrology to give a certain cosmic flair to my mental breakdown. While some of the advice was genuinely very helpful, the sassiness of the daily readings would remind me that “no, Mercury is not in retrograde, I’m just a disaster”.
Eoin, Digital Marketing Executive
Simon Persson, Repcount
It’s just really easy to use and intuitive. It solves a problem for me by tracking so I don’t have to do it myself.
Jash, Marketing Strategist
Matías Duarte, Vice President of Material Design, Google
Duarte had a big impact in the design updates for Android which helped in the flight for the supreme OS.
Janet, Head of People Operations
Yael Levey, Product Designer for Meta, formerly the Creative Director with BBC Weather
She’s big into the professional development and growth of design people and design teams. She has her own website (I am not my Pixels) and has a bank of content there around helping others get into UX, UX processes and practices, creative confidence and building yourself up.
Doug Collins, Author of The UX Design Field Book
He runs daily talks on Twitter (#uxtalk) and I like his interactions with the community more than anything.
Medb, Graphic Designer
My favourite designer at the moment is actually the team of designers behind the Bulgarian-based creative studio, Lobster Studio. I came across them after they won a 2021 Motion Award for their educational video created for Ted-Ed. I recommend checking out their website. Their clean and colourful animations are a joy to watch. Even their logo animation makes me so happy!
Fin, Sales Executive
Hidetaka Miyazaki, Creative Director and President of FromSoftware
One of the most famous Game Designers of all time, he was a key guy behind all of the Dark Souls games. His most recent release is Elden Ring, which George R.R Martin co-wrote, and people are earmarking it as one of the greatest games ever created. He’s a beast.
Eoghan, Student Success Executive
Dieter Rams, former industrial designer with Braun
His approach is “Less, but better”. His 10 principles of good design written in the 1980s still rings through today and can be applied to digital design as well as industrial design. He heavily influenced Jony Ive’s style in the early days. Rams says that Apple is one of only a handful of companies existing today that design products according to his ten principles of good design.
David Kelly, founder of IDEO
The Californian company designed everything from tooth brushes to computers and was one of the first companies to use design thinking principles and human-centred design principles to create really innovative products. Hiring people from all kinds of backgrounds, engineers, architects, industrial designers, psychologists, teachers etc, IDEO made physical products and moved into the digital space by applying the same design principles.
Cathal, Student Success Executive
They work with companies like Spotify and Google to create really entertaining, smart and purposeful content. Their team is made up of observers and scientists so they always approach projects in a very unique way.
Aoife, Head of Student Success Team
Siona Tebbutt, Lead Designer Engineer, Dyson
In terms of product design, the Dyson Airwrap and Dyson Supersonic hair dryer is amazing. Using aerodynamics to curl hair is genius. There are so many little elements I love about both products but they have the motor in the handle, unlike any other hair dryer, so the hair dryer isn’t top heavy. No more painful wrists.
Mubarak Marafa, Product Designer, Goodnotes
I’m using it on my iPad at the moment and I thought I’d hate not using paper, but they’ve done a brilliant job. It’s smooth, easy to use and they have a powerful search functionality which uses handwriting recognition and it’s really accurate.