Where would we be without TED? The incredible free resource that offers us endless inspirational talks from some of the world’s brightest and best designers and innovators. No matter what your creative field, there is always something worthwhile to stream and enjoy.

At Shillington, we’re always discovering and recommending the best talks for our graphic design students. From Stefan Sagmeister and Paula Scher to Paola Antonelli and Milton Glaser, here are 16 superb TED Talks we believe every designer should have on their watch list.

1. Designing with slogans – Stefan Sagmeister

Rockstar designer Stefan Sagmeister delivers a short, witty talk on life lessons, expressed through surprising modes of design (including … inflatable monkeys?).

Watch the video on TED.com

2. Taking imagination seriously – Janet Echelman

Janet Echelman found her true voice as an artist when her paints went missing — which forced her to look to an unorthodox new art material. Now she makes billowing, flowing, building-sized sculpture with a surprisingly geeky edge. A transporting 10 minutes of pure creativity.

Watch the video on TED.com

3. Design, discovery and humour – David Carson

Great design is a never-ending journey of discovery — for which it helps to pack a healthy sense of humour. Sociologist and surfer-turned-designer David Carson walks through a gorgeous (and often quite funny) slide deck of his work and found images.

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4. Great design is serious, not solemn – Paula Scher

Paula Scher looks back at a life in design (she’s done album covers, books, the Citibank logo …) and pinpoints the moment when she started really having fun. Look for gorgeous designs and images from her legendary career.

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5. How giant websites design for you (and a billion others too) – Margaret Gould Stewart

Facebook’s “like” and “share” buttons are seen 22 billion times a day, making them some of the most-viewed design elements ever created. Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook’s director of product design, outlines three rules for design at such a massive scale – one so big that the tiniest of tweaks can cause global outrage, but also so large that the subtlest of improvements can positively impact the lives of many.

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6. My life in typefaces – Matthew Carter

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you’ll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books — remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

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7. Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is. – Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd doesn’t judge books by their cover, he creates covers that embody the book — and he does it with a wicked sense of humour. In one of the funniest talks from TED2012, he shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs. This talk is from The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.

Watch the video on TED.com

8. The beauty of data visualisation – David McCandless

David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.

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9. Design and the elastic mind – Paola Antonelli

MOMA design curator Paola Antonelli previews the groundbreaking show Design and the Elastic Mind — full of products and designs that reflect the way we think now.

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10. Designers – Think big! – Tim Brown

Tim Brown says the design profession has a bigger role to play than just creating nifty, fashionable little objects. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory “design thinking” — starting with the example of 19th-century design thinker Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

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11. Your elusive creative genius – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

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12. Using design to make ideas new – Milton Glaser

From the TED archives: The legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser dives deep into a new painting inspired by Piero della Francesca. From here, he muses on what makes a convincing poster, by breaking down an idea and making it new.

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13. Where does creativity hide? – Amy Tan

Novelist Amy Tan digs deep into the creative process, looking for hints of how hers evolved.

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14. Intricate beauty by design – Marian Bantjes

In graphic design, Marian Bantjes says, throwing your individuality into a project is heresy. She explains how she built her career doing just that, bringing her signature delicate illustrations to storefronts, valentines and even genetic diagrams.

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15. The world needs all kinds of minds – Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

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16. Four lessons in creativity – Julie Burstein

Radio host Julie Burstein talks with creative people for a living — and shares four lessons about how to create in the face of challenge, self-doubt and loss. Hear insights from filmmaker Mira Nair, writer Richard Ford, sculptor Richard Serra and photographer Joel Meyerowitz.

Watch the video on TED.com