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Over There (in the UK)

December 1, 2000 at 3 PM

Can Design in America Avoid

Can Design in America Avoid the Style Trap?

So asks the NY Times (you'll have to register—for free—to read the article), in an interesting examination of the current trend in design. Cool-looking products become more popular. Consumers have embraced stylish home accessories that don't work better, but look nicer. And in an effort to attain this popularity, designers have turned to the fashion industry for inspiration, and have adopted its code of accelerated obsolesence.

Instead of steady, time-worn design like the 6-sided pencil (it doesn't roll off your desk like a perfect cylinder) we see the translucent colour fad, the amorphous blob fad and the matte-finish pewter fad. And we like it.

At the same time, what exactly is meant by “good design” has never been more vague, and many designers, lacking firmer principles, aspire only to a place in the glamorized design economy. Is good design the perfection of an object for commercial success? For the glory of the designer? For beauty? For glamour? For use?

There is always a temptation to err on the side of pizazz (did I really just use that word?). As designers, we want to have our own voice, to seem daring, original and new. However, good design isn't always flashy or even necessarily original—sometimes the old-fashioned way has hung around for a reason.

I've heard a few crotchety voices lately, mostly from older graphic designers whose careers pre-date the Web, accusing a great number of people of misrepresenting themselves as “designers.” It seems to me, what they are implying is that some web authors confuse design for dash and style.

It was perhaps with this in mind that I adopted this staid, almost-black (it's grey, honest) on white look. Not so stylish, but hopefully useable and easy on the eyes.

Upcoming this weekend: Luke finishes the rest of his site. “Maybe if I say it,” he thinks, “I'll be guilted into doing it.”

Comments

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Previously: New to the Web? Do

Subsequently: And now for something completely…

December 2000
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I only really read it for Canucks coverage, but even still it’s nice that The Vancouver Sun finally redesigned its hideously awful website to look like it was designed this century.


On pizza box art


Web 2.Origami


Welcome to Obama, Japan


The Toronto Star shows where and how the seats changed in the 2008 election

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