At Ringling College of Art and Design, we have always understood that design affects every aspect of our lives. Check out these classic icons of design as examples of the critical role that artists and designers play in shaping the world culture and economy.

Design is everywhere. Take a look:


“Design for All” became Target’s mantra in 2002, with a special website launched to communicate the value of design and its role in everyday life. By placing eye-catching, well-designed products alongside the basic needs for living, Target has made good design seem indispensible and accessible.


Simple, fluid and fast. These are words used to describe the “swoosh” in the NIKE logo that has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world. In 1972, the first shoe with the NIKE logo was introduced. Today, NIKE spends around $1.7 billion in advertising to promote its brand. The logo has been a key contributor to NIKE’s success.


With its cool, minimalist design, the iPod has changed the course of music delivery history, capturing 70% of the downloading music market. Innovative design allows Apple to enjoy premium pricing over its competitors.


Good design not only makes the world a better place, it saves lives. More than 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. At a cost of only $3, LifeStraw works as a personal water purification tool by filtering deadly microorganisms. LifeStraw was named Best Invention of 2005 by Time magazine, proving the value of innovation and design to the world.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Design can redefine commercial air travel. Designers at Boeing have created a more beautiful cabin with reconfigured space, special lighting and larger windows that make people feel more comfortable on long flights. They have also made flying safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly with improved fuel efficiency, a digital ground navigation system and improved air quality.


At one time, automobiles were designed for only one purpose – transportation. When General Motors introduced the Chevrolet Corvette in 1953, a new era began. A car could be the ultimate expression of style. The Corvette’s distinctive design has made it the quintessential American sports car for generations.


Starbucks is one of the most powerful iconic brands known today, with 25 million customers frequenting its 13,000 stores every week. Combining the use of color, lighting, audio, display, graphics and other in-store elements to stir customers’ emotions, Starbucks designers have created an oasis that has become known as the “Starbucks Experience” and yielded hordes of coffee fans.


Since 1932, future artists, designers, architects and engineers have learned about shape, color, form, problem-solving and construction by playing with these simple plastic bricks. Each year, over 400 million people in 130 countries will play with LEGO. There are over 900 trillion possible combinations from only six LEGO pieces!


BMW’s philosophy is that design is more than just curves and lines. It’s a means to create emotion. The most recognizable of BMW’s design motifs is its distinct logo, known as the Roundel. With colors derived from the Bavarian flag, and a propeller motif symbolizing BMW’s origins as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, the Roundel expresses the pride and sense of tradition that go into the design of every BMW.


A simple $1 yellow rubber wristband became a cultural phenomenon by making a true emotional connection. People immediately responded to the courageous message and name recognition of world-class cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. The design is simple, striking, inexpensive, and truly unisex. According to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, more than 58 million people in 60 countries wear the wristband.

Toy Story

Animation has come a long way since the jerky line drawings of the early 1900s. Nowhere is this more evident than in Toy Story, the first full-length animated feature film that was entirely computer-generated. Suddenly animation had a whole new look – 3D! Since then, scores of 3D animated films have been created. The technology constantly improves, but it’s the artists who make the magic on the screen.

Eames Lounge Chair

The blending of classic, clean, sophisticated design with comfortable practicality has produced an architectural icon of timeless sensibility. The Molded Plywood Lounge Chair (1946) was hailed by Time magazine as “the best design of the 20th Century.” Wanting to create more than a “look” for their designs, Charles and Ray Eames identified the need for high-quality furniture for the average consumer.