30 Lesser Known Projects by Famous Designers


Like Louise Ciccone wasn’t always Madonna, the greatest designers of our century weren’t always the greatest. Hours of hard work and numerous and endless projects preceded their fame.

While some of their masterpieces are famous, most projects are less noticed—or just less connected to their names. However, each project was a step toward fame and glory.

Paul Rand once said that a designer’s life is a fight with ugliness. One project at a time, these masters of design, architecture, and art were turning the world into a less ugly place than it is now. With different mediums but similar dedication, they did even the small sidekick projects with passion and a spark of omnipresent gift.

Enjoy the prominent style of giants like Milton Glaser, Philippe Starck, and Stefan Sagmeister in this collection of lesser-known projects, which goes above and beyond their most famous works.

Check out how some of them influenced the web here.

Paula Scher

Known for: MoMA, Windows 8.

Paula Scher is well-known for her bold, text-centered works for the New York City Ballet and MoMA. This package design for the Ooola candies and nuts shows early signs of her obsession with fonts.

Paula Scher Ooola candies and nuts

Max Miedinger

Known for: Helvetica.

Swiss designer Max Miedinger did the world a huge favor by creating the beautiful Helvetica. During his lifetime, Max created 15 other less-known type fonts. Among them, Miedinger was the one to inherit the designer’s name.

Max Miedinger Font

Neville Brody

Known for: BBC Global Visual Language, FontShop.

“Playing with fonts” – every designer’s nightmare – is what Neville Brody embraced successfully for his works. Even his ephemerous projects like this poster for the Tyson-Tubbs fight are perfect examples of creating extreme visual effects with zero image elements used.

Neville Brody Tyson Tubbs Poster

Jonathan Ive

Known for: Apple Products.

The chances are high that you have one of Jonathan Ive’s designs around you right now. As Apple’s CDO, he mastered exquisite laptops, phones, tablets, and accessories to the ultimate level. This piano made for the RED charity project, though, is definitely his swim into less-known waters.

Jonathan Ive Piano Red

John Maeda

Known for: Morisawa 10.

John Maeda became a guru at the intersection of design, technology, and programming. This work has been his favorite since his early years in design college. With just a few lines of code, he made his computer go on and on with this infinity loop and stopped it after 10,000 repeats.

John Maeda Computer

Susan Kare

Known for: Apple icons (including Command button).

This design can hardly be called “lesser known”—considering the zillions of productive hours it stole from humanity worldwide. A lesser-known fact about it, though, is that it was created by Susan Kare, a designer and mastermind behind the classic Apple Macintosh icons.

Susan Kare classic Apple Macintosh icons

Massimo Vignelli

Known for: NYC Subway Map.

This great work from the creator of the legendary New York Subway map deserves to be highlighted again nowadays. Massimo Vignelli made the Bicentennial Flag out of the various national community newspapers of America. It represents the versatility of the people who built the country.

Massimo Vignelli Bicentennial Flag

Andy Warhol

Known for: Campbell’s Soup, Marilyn Diptych.

People often forget that Andy Warhol used more than one medium to express his art. In addition to printmaking and paintings, he made movies, sculptures, multimedia events, and more. Search through his exhibitions to immerse yourself in this installation of floating helium silver pillows.

Andy Warhol floating helium silver pillows

Saul Bass

Known for: Vertigo, AT&T.

A giant of movie posters and logo design, Saul Bass created a few symbols that stuck around for decades. Like this simple though impressive logo for Geffen Records – a company that recorded Nirvana, Aerosmith, Beck, Sonic Youth, and other legends.

Saul Bass logo for Geffen Records

Alessandro Mendini

Known for: Groninger Museum.

There’s no project too small for a great designer. While working on huge architectural projects, Alessandro Mendini not only created a bunch of quirky furniture but also came up with these unusual glasses. Sleek!

Alessandro Mendini Glasses

Jonathan Barnbrook

Known for: David Bowie Heathen, Blackstar.

This British designer mastered the trick of using simple shapes in a relevant and multidimensional way. A good, though lesser known, example of his work is this logo and style for the Contemporary Arts Center in Ukraine, located in a former fortress. The open square resembles the shape of the building.

Jonathan Barnbrook logo and style for the Contemporary Arts Center in Ukraine

Michael Bierut

Known for: Benetton, MasterCard.

Michael Bierut is Pentagram’s mastermind, leading design for huge brands like Mastercard and Verizon. This poster he created for the Architectural League of New York was lesser known until director Stephen Soderberg featured it in his film “Side Effects.”

Michael Bierut Architectural League of New York Poster

Milton Glaser

Known for: I Love New York, DC Comics.

Every designer knows that when you find a great solution, it’s hard to let it go. Milton Glaser made the best-ever use for heart in his iconic I Love New York logo. Later, he repeated himself creatively in these lesser-known designs for JetBlue Airlines.

ilton Glaser JetBlue Airlines

Cipe Pineles

Known for: Charm Magazine, Seventeen.

Her art direction defined the looks of most women’s magazines of the era—Seventeen, Vogue, Charm, you name it. This “Christmas gifts” cover for Vogue is lesser known than her covers with the models. However, it is still notable for the intricate magazine title created with jewelry.

Cipe Pineles

Chip Kidd

Known for: Jurassic Park, Watching the Watchmen.

Chip Kidd created hundreds of book designs. The magazine covers are more ephemeral, allowing a great designer to hone his top skills in a bold show-off. Isn’t that a perfect example of using unexpected detail?

Chip Kidd

Joyce Wang

Known for: Haymarket, Ammo.

Modern Chinese interior designer Joyce Wang specializes in using industrial materials in her atmospheric spaces. As the Swarovski brand approached her with a proposal for collaboration, she found the most unexpected shape for composing their crystals into a one-of-a-kind chandelier.

Joyce Wang Chandelier

Philippe Starck

Known for: Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer, Lou Read Armchair.

One of the world’s top furniture designers, Philippe Starck, did a very good job with this hotel. Created for the French city of Metz, it showcases a classical 19th-century villa on top of a modern building stuffed with top-end suits and facilities.

Philippe Starck Furniture

Keith Haring

Known for: Radiant Baby, David .

Keith Haring’s signature dancing figures are among the most recognizable motifs in the pop-art era. For this less-known creation, the artist adorned a fixed-gear bicycle with his drawings, making a piece at the intersection of modern and ready-made.

Keith Haring fixed gear bicycle

Frank Shepard Fairey

Known for: OBEY, Obama HOPE.

A statement graphic logo for Mozilla was a perfect fit for the brand’s young, unorthodox audience. Few know that the creator behind it is the same person who brought us the viral OBEY poster.

Frank Shepard Fairey OBEY poster

Ivan Chermayeff

Known for: PanAm, National Geographic.

At a moment when two big publishers merged their businesses, “Harper & Row” had a torch on its logo, while “Collins” had a fountain. Ivan Chermayeff interpreted both symbols creatively into the blocked-out unity of fire and water, as seen in all the best design books ever since.

Ivan Chermayeff unity of fire and water

Stefan Sagmeister

Known for: Lou Reed – Set the Twilight Feeling.

Stefan Sagmeister is a recognized master of transforming, blending, and turning fonts into images. Sometimes, he turns them literally, like on this billboard made by his design company for Levi’s.

Stefan Sagmeister Billboard

Paul Rand

Known for: IBM, Esquire.

Greats were great because they brought us the future. Years before the rise of the microinteraction trend, design prophet Paul Rand implemented it in his routine projects, like this cover for AD magazine.

Paul Rand AD magazine

Karim Rashid

Known for: High Roller Chaise, Fun Factory Munich.

Karim Rashid’s love for curved lines brought us his whimsical buildings and furniture pieces. This less-known creation is notable as it gives us an understanding of the deep roots from which the designer gets his inspiration.

Karim Rashid whimsical buildings

Herb Lubalin

Known for: Mother&Child, Ampersand Productions.

This master of graphical logos raised the industry standards significantly. But can you believe the man behind the World Trade Center logo also designed a chewing gum package? And a damn stylish bubble gum package at that.

Herb Lubalin bubble gum package

Alan Fletcher

Known for: Reuters, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Alan Fletcher had a great eye for ideas. While chilling by the beach once, he noticed how the stacked chairs aligned perfectly with the horizon. He immortalized this random glimpse right away on the cover of Domus magazine.

Alan Fletcher cover of Domus magazine

Otl Aicher

Known for: Lufthansa, Munich Olympics.

You can hardly think of a better project for the infographics designer than designing the Olympic icons. But Otl Aicher, a man behind the Munich Olympics, hit the jackpot twice. He also created the style for Public Transportation in Munich, which has been massively copied ever since.

Otl Aicher Public Transportation in Munich

Anton Stankowski

Known for: Deutsche Bank, Mercedes-Benz.

Anton Stankowski was an artist with a deep passion for exploring the color tools. His design agency created logos for top German brands like Mercedes. A less-known logo for the Bruhl city lived through decades to inspire the Beats brand half a century later.

Anton Stankowski logo for the Bruhl city

David Carson

Known for: Ray Gun, New York Magazine.

A big lover of crisp fonts and collage structure, David Carson was invited to create the logo for the Dali Museum in St.Petersburg. He did a great job using his favorite technique to convey the famous artist’s whimsical nature.

David Carson Dali museum in St.Petersburg

Gerard Huerta

Known for: AC/DC, HBO.

If you ever scribbled the logo of your favorite rock band on your school desk, chances are high you were recreating Gerard Huerta’s works. Surprisingly, this Pepsi signature font also belongs to him.

Gerard Huerta Pepsi signature font

April Greiman

Known for: California New Wave.

A woman responsible for the crazy patterns of the 1970s and 1980s, April Greiman pioneered digital design. She was the first to make a magazine cover using a Macintosh, and the industry was never the same. April adorned the snail mail, too, with this stamp design celebrating the 19th Amendment.

April Greiman stamp design

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