Top 20 graphic designers: the pioneering creatives that don’t just revert to type

To coincide with Wallpaper's landmark 200th issue, we've expanded our Power 100 list of the design world's superlative talents to into a definitive (you've guessed it) Power 200. Running parallel to our main list – of the world's finest furniture and product designers – we've curated shorter selections niche disciplines, including the 20 best graphic designers – the pioneering creatives that don't just revert to type.

The pioneering creatives
Alan Kitching: Iconic typographic figure
(Image credit: press)

To coincide with Wallpaper's landmark 200th issue, we've expanded our Power 100 list of the design world's superlative talents into a definitive (you've guessed it) Power 200. Running parallel to our main list – of the world's finest furniture and product designers – we've curated shorter selections of the best young practitioners, interior designers, architects, influencers and, here, graphic designers – the pioneering creatives that don't just revert to type.

It's hard to understate the pervading influence of our choices – from John Morgan and Peter Miles (culture and fashion's go-to art directors, respectively), to agency behemoths like Fabien Baron, graphic iconoclast Stefan Sagmeister, M/M Paris, Pentagram partner Paula Scher, North's Sean Perkins and Graphic Thought Facility – even when these practitioners tend to remain relatively anonymous compared to those working in other (glitzier) design disciplines.

But it's the subtlety of the work that tends to make it so groundbreaking. Typographical innovation – the sheer ubiquity of words making true innovation an even greater achievement – comes in the form of designers such as Alan Kitching, Erik Spiekermann and Cornel Windlin; while Anthony Burrill, Tony Brook, Philippe Apeloig, Simon Esterson and Jonathan Barnbrook lead the more abstract, editorial and pictorial vanguard.

The pioneering magazine designer Neville Brody and the bookish Irma Boom represent the best in print aesthetics, and Kenya Hara's spare, clean design and ascetic refinement brings a little minimalism to the list.

Finally, the prolific catalogue of Peter Saville highlights a near faultless career starting in record cover design – perhaps one of the most challenging, and certainly most under appreciated graphic forms – and leaving his louche mark on everything from cultural instititions to city councils.

Wallpaper Power 200

(Image credit: press)

See the Power 200 in full here 

Poster boy for poster art

Anthony Burrill: Poster boy for poster art

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Swiss font gamechanger

Cornell Windlin: Swiss font gamechanger. Pictured: ’Drawing Ronan & Errwan Bouroullec’, 2013

(Image credit: press)

Mighty visual communicator

Philippe Apeloig: Mighty visual communicator

(Image credit: press)

Erik Spiekermann

Erik Spiekermann: German type designer. Pictured: First release of a digital and and analog font at the same time: newly released FF Real (opens in new tab) printed here by letterpress from large, CNC-cut wood type at my workshop P98a

(Image credit: press)

Designer with a new Spin

Tony Brook: Designer with a new Spin

(Image credit: press)

limited-edition cover for W*196

M/M Paris: Glitzing music and fashion
Pictured: limited-edition cover for W*196

(Image credit: press)

Ongoing series of books

John Morgan: Culture’s go-to art director. Pictured: Four Corners Familiars, an ongoing series of books featuring artists’ responses to classic novels and short stories

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Branding on truck

Sean Perkins: Branding and identity guru

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Designing Design book

Kenya Hara: King of simplicity. Pictured: Designing Design, Lars Müller Publishers, 2007

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Influential editorial designer

Simon Esterson: Influential editorial designer

(Image credit: press)

Stephan Sagmeister

Stephan Sagmeister: Modern graphic iconoclast
May 2010, W*134

(Image credit: Jason Schmidt)

Peter Miles cover for wallpaper

Peter Miles: Fashion’s go-to art director

(Image credit: press)

Blue Monday

Peter Saville: Pivotal. Pictured: Blue Monday, 1983

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Herman Miller Formwork

Graphic Thought Facility: Epitome of modern agency. Pictured: Herman Miller Formwork

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Irma Boom

Irma Boom: Bookish Dutch designer

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Fabian Baron cover

Fabien Baron: Illustrious creative director

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The little Fellow

Jonathan Barnbrook: Idiosyncrasy in motion
Pictured: The Little Fellow, 2004

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Neville Brody cover design

Neville Brody: Magazine design pioneer

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customised Moleskin notebook

Paula Scher: Pentagram partner
Pictured: customised Moleskin notebook

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

See the Power 200 in full

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.