Who Are My Design Heroes?

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This article was inspired by Tobias van Schneider’s article “Where are our design heroes?

If you’re a designer, I highly recommend reading it. And, in this article, I want to list out my “design heroes.”

So, here is a list of people that inspire me immensely as a digital product designer. And I hope you find sources of inspiration here too.

P.S. I’m sure I may have missed someone (apologies). But here’s a general list of people I can think of.

Rauno Freiberg

🎨 Staff Design Engineer @Vercel. Ex. @The Browser Company.
Portfolio | Twitter

I remember coming across Rauno’s portfolio this fall. And that was seriously the first time I was…

f’ing mind blown.

(sorry for the indirect swear word oops)

His level of craft. Attention to detail. And the fact that he built the entire thing himself.

His work was my first exposure to design engineering.

Rauno freiberg's profile and a screenshot of his website

Brian Lovin

🎨 Founder of Campsite, Ex. Principal Product Designer @GitHub
Portfolio | Twitter

Brian is also the co-host of one of my favorite podcasts - Design Details. His portfolio is a functional app all built by himself.

One of my earliest inspirations in design engineering as well.

Brian lovin's profile picture and a screenshot of his portfolio

Jordan Singer

🎨 Founder & CEO @Diagram, Ex. Product Designer @Cash App
Portfolio | Twitter

Jordan is someone who embodies the idea of being a builder.

His startup - Diagram - is doing some incredible work for the design community.

Jordan Singer's profile image and a screenshot of his startup, Diagram

Alex Widua

🎨 UX Engineer, AI @Google, Ex. @Meta, Diagram
Portfolio | Twitter

Have you ever seen a student’s profile and go

WTF?! How has he done so much???

That’s exactly how I felt when I saw Alex’s portfolio. He’s a master's student by the way. Check out his work and Figma plugins - I’m a huge fan.

Alex Widua's profile image and a screenshot of his portfolio

Molly Mielke

🎨 Founder Partner @Moth Fund, Ex. Sequoia, Stripe, Notion, Figma, Browser Company
Portfolio | Twitter

It’s hard to describe why Molly is an incredible designer because she’s much more than that. I mean: Look at her previous companies - it’s insane. Oh ya - She just graduated from college.

If you read her Twitter and blog, you’ll realize that she thinks a lot. I’m not even sure if “philosophical” is the right way to put it. But, I think Molly exemplifies: Follow what you’re deeply curious about and the rest will follow.

Molly Mielke profile image and a screenshot of his portfolio

Vincent van der Meulen

🎨 Design Engineer @Diagram, Ex. Design Engineer II @Uber

I recently discovered Vincent’s work on Twitter after he joined Diagram.

This video (starting from 15:11) is what he did back in Uber.

My mouth dropped when I saw it.

Vincent van der Meulen's profile image and a screenshot of his Uber work

Raphael Schaad

🎨 Founder @Cron Calendar (Now Notion)

I first discovered Raphael through this video. I love how after he designs, he directly jumps into prototyping. It’s such a refreshing and different approach to the typical, standard design process.

Also, his attention to detail is phenomenal.

Raphael Schaad's profile image and a screenshot of Cron Calendar

Mike Mai

🎨 Lead Design Technologist @YML, Ex. Lead UI Architect @Pegasystems

Mike was my mentor when I interned at Pega in 2022 spring. He was a huge advocate of accessibility and design engineering.

Working with Mike taught me a lot. But the most important was: Don’t forget about accessibility. Make your product inclusive. Do not forget.

Mike Mai's profile image and a screenshot of his portfolio

Marco Cornacchia

🎨 Designer @Diagram, Ex. Designer @CommandDot
Portfolio | Twitter

I also recently discovered Marco’s work after he joined Diagram (see a pattern?).

Can I say - his portfolio is beautiful and interactive. Can’t wait to see his work at Diagram.

Marco Cornacchia's profile image and a screenshot of his portfolio

Gleb Kuznetsov

🎨 Chief Design Offer @Brain Technologies, Ex. Head of Visual Design @Fantasy

Brain Technologies is doing some incredibly cool stuff in the generative interface space. And Gleb is in charge of that direction.

Gleb Kuznetsov's profile image and a screenshot of his startup, Brain Technologies


If you haven’t noticed, the majority of this list has one thing in common.

They’re “Design Engineers” or “UX Engineers”.

In general, I’m inspired by people who can not only design beautiful & useful solutions but also build them out themselves.

In the perceivable future, aside from 3D modeling, honing my development skills will be the other big priority.

Looking at these people’s work removes me from the tiny college bubble and focuses on what’s possible out there.

They push me to become a better designer. And I will do whatever I can to become as good or, if not, even better than them in the future.

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you for being awesome and reading this far! :)

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or by email. Will love to set up a casual call and chat!

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