The D5 Graphic Design Blog.
Welcome to the third weekly instalment of The D5 Graphic Design Blog.
This is part 3 of 3 in my ‘Brief History Of Graphic Design’ series. I’ve based these blog posts on a project I completed as part of my degree in graphic design. Last week I talked about graphic design from Kandinsky to Post-Modernism, quite a vast expanse of time, I may have gotten a little carried away, if you missed it, be sure to give it a quick read here.
Last week I finished upon Post-Modernism in the 1980’s. However this isn’t where Post-Modernism ended. 1990 brought the birth of Adobe Photoshop exclusively for macintosh computers, ever wondered why graphic designers always use macs? Well, that’s where it started at least. 1990 also brought grunge, another rebellious cultural movement for which Post-Modernism would give a big aesthetic hug. Not without a little change however. The best designer to use as an example of this aesthetic change would be David Carson.
Elsewhere in the 90’s
The early to mid 90’s saw a dip in Apple’s popularity and subsequently their profits. In 1997 Steve Jobs came back to apple as interim CEO and began re-shaping the product line. As the decade was burning out, in 1998, something big changed in the tech world. Apple successfully turned their product line around. They released the first iMac, bought Macromedia Final Cut which would become Final Cut Pro, the standard for video editing software which we use here at D5 on a daily basis. This purchase meant Apple could also release Final Cut Pro’s baby brother iMovie which started their popular iLife and iWork products. But what did this mean for design? Jobs’ logic was very reminiscent of Modernism, things would be created to work, not just to look good. This is reflected in their logo change in the same year, before 1998 Apple sported the rainbow coloured logo. To a non-designer this may not seem like such a profound change, though this change would bring the next era of design.
An image never interests us as such. Its relevance lies in the fact that it contains the sum of preceding dialogues, stories, experiences with various interlocutors, and the fact that it induces a questioning of these preexisting values. This it what makes for us a pertinent image. A good image should be in between two others, a previous one and another to come.
Another hugely influential modern graphic designer is Stefan Sagmeister. Having started his career at the tender age of 15 working for the Austrian youth magazine Alphorn, Sagmeister has had a long and healthy career adding names including The Rolling Stones, The Guggenheim Museum, HBO, The Talking Heads, Lou Reed and Time Warner to his portfolio. Sagmeister lives and works in New York and has recently joined forces with Jessica Walsh, an award winning multidisciplinary designer, together they are Sagmeister and Walsh, their work certainly encapsulates what I would call ‘Neo-Modernism’. Again, the best way to get a feel of their work is to simply look at it, having read and understood this brief history, it’s easy to see their influences and importance in the creative world. Click!
Here’s an inspiring quote from Sagmeister.
“It is very important to embrace failure and to do a lot of stuff — as much stuff as possible — with as little fear as possible. It’s much, much better to wind up with a lot of crap having tried it than to overthink in the beginning and not do it.”
To bring us right up to date I’d like to use Jonathan Puckey’s work as an example. Puckey is an innovator in the use and creation of design tools. Working from his studio in Amsterdam, Puckey’s works are striking, stylish and very in touch with modern trends. The notion of designs consisting of 50% artistic human input and 50% computer program such as Puckey’s tools could be compared to the grid systems of Joseph Muller Brockman and the ‘International Style’. Both techniques involve intelligent design but suggest a uniformed idealism.
It’s quite simple to describe what futurology is and what futurologists do. They predict the future. In terms of design trends that is. An organisation such as WGSN employ futurologists to analyse design trends, history and patterns in order to accurately predict how the future will look in terms of fashion, product and graphic design. Companies and designers pay large amounts of money to access this information. It is a common viewpoint that these organisations are so popular they have almost monopolised the future. Whether this is good or bad is entirely subjective. WGSN for example produce extensive style, trend and colour forecasts which are then followed by the leading designers, high street stores and product developers. Their predictions are often very vague, speculative and outlandish which could be seen as inspiration rather than futurology. Personally I believe the aesthetic of the future is still being shaped in the same way it always has, futurologists are simply another element in the vast world of creativity. They do however provide a useful tool and insight into what everyone will be doing in the coming 4 years which is almost guaranteed.
Metamodernism & N.D.A
Two of the terms that keep cropping up in futurologists spheres are ‘Metamodernism’ and ‘New Digital Aesthetic’. Metamodernism is described as;
“A new name for a new world – Metamodernism. The movement, which is still in its early days, has evolved from both modernism and post-modernism. Expect it to define the decade ahead. With a romantic enthusiasm for the future, it is characterised by the push and pull between opposites, between contradictions and the seemingly incompatible.”
And N.D.A is described as;
The way we look at the world is changing. As we spend more time viewing life through the prism of our iPhones, cameras, tablets and computers, the way these machines “see” and the way we see are becoming intertwined. A machine does not differentiate between the animate and the inanimate, the beautiful and the ugly. This is influencing the aesthetic of design today. According to futurist Bruce Sterling this is the new avant-garde.
From this we can see how vague and unspecific these predictions are. Though we can still differentiate between the aesthetic of now and the one predicted by futurologists. This leaves it open for designers to interpret the information anyway they see fit.
That concludes my brief history of graphic design series. I hope some things were cleared up and I hope some questions were answered but most of all I hope new questions were asked.