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Discussion: Design year in review

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The past year has been a fantastic close to a decade filled with great design advancements in all media, but especially on the web. New artists, new firms, new techniques, styles & trends. We’ve seen a lot of stuff that we like, and some that we don’t – but it’s all been a thrill to live through.

The White Stripes tugged the young decade into nostalgia for the 1960s, The Strokes reacted with tunes reminiscent of the 1970s, and The Killers rounded off the pattern making music that borrows from the 1980s. The mood and intentions of creative people seem to move in harmony around current culture; Designers started putting out work with a nod toward vintage aesthetics. Then in 2009, the shapes & color palettes of the 80s seemed to be especially popular.

Trends are inevitable and not inherently bad. But eventually, we all get tired of patterns and similar-looking designs. Here’s a handful of (web design) trends as identified by our friends at Smashing Magazine. This list is just to refresh your memory – let’s not limit the discussion to these design trends only.

  • Letterpress
  • Big Typography
  • Modal Windows
  • Carousels (slideshows)
  • Big footers
  • 80s colors & shapes

What do you think?

So this is topic is now open for discussion. Let’s chat in the comments about what you think are the some overused trends in your area of expertise? Whether it’s design, web, illustration, etc. What do you think?

About the Author, Adam Wagner

I'm a marketer, designer, armchair singer/songwriter, wannabe theoretical physicist/philosopher and recent college grad trying to pack as much living as possible into each day. Working at Go Media makes this pretty easy. Catch me on Twitter!!
Discover More by Adam Wagner

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xetiennex Etienne Dumas

    Big Typography is ace and still my favourite trend

  • john5cole

    For a while flourishes and skulls were everywhere with the rise of Affliction and all the knock-offs, though that seems to have faded somewhat. It is strange to see the 80's aesthetic back in vogue as it was hideous when I was a kid….though the new interpretation is more palatable.

    http://resourcehive.com

  • wurkshop

    i am getting kinda tired of the sinewy and stringy hair, blood and guts. no offense to Godmachine because he's one of the best at it and one of the first to really master the use of it.

  • wurkshop

    the more i think of it, i am digging the '80's style stuff. i grew up then and have been waiting for a time to bust out my jams and slip on vans.

    http://www.stevenelmoreportfolio.com

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    I think all the cartoony/gore illustrations are tired. I think it's mostly a subject matter thing for me. So saturated in blood/guts and neon colors. Boooring!

  • Adam_Wagner

    It is really strange how trends cycle, sometimes with exponential times. What do you think is the driving force behind this?

  • john5cole

    In my mind it comes down one thing, ease of creation. Everyone says they love to do something with no boundaries or guidelines, but in reality with no restrictions creation becomes very difficult. So when a designer grows tired of the norm of the moment they look at the past and then riff off of that to create something new, but based on the original. Then other designers pick up on the feel of this new style and a trend is born.

    http://resourcehive.com

  • http://twitter.com/merritt212 arif

    I've been doing graphic, web & fashion design & development since 2001, and I've been a traditional artist (painting & sculpture) since I was in 7th grade. As expected there are more and more people are getting into graphic & web design… some because of how accessible the adobe creative suite is becoming. In some ways it sucks because (no offense to anyone who is just starting) people are getting away with mediocre stuff. They are only learning these trends and not real design which is making them less versatile. A good designer is a good designer. You can do anything. I loved the beginning of this century 2000-2004 or so because that was the peak of artist creativity. Artist were just learning as much as they could. Specialists started to fade away because you had designers coding & programming & vice verse. Art has never been about the tool. Great artist have great concepts & ideas & know how to develop & execute. Mastering of tools is secondary. You can always learn a new tool, but if you don't know how to apply it to what you want to do it's useless. Then all of a sudden people got lazy & subscribe to social networking. I love social networking, but where is the creativity. The thing about fads is that they limit a person. You never know what you'll come up with on your own. Following a fad only prolongs your growth.

    In the fashion world it was similar. Street wear & loud colors were everywhere. Fashion has since taken a turn for the better & it's back to real dressing. Fads are mostly gone & it's back to style being about you… about what you have to say to the world. It's back to being your voice before you ever speak a word.

    I love North Kindom Art Director & Co-founder Robert Lindstrom's summation of the year… “2009 saw a move away from destination websites as brands sought to integrate themselves into social networks and engage in real time media. However, there were still a fair few URLs that rocked our world.”

    I know what I'm doing in 2010, and I can only hope that the design world does the same. Rock our world! If you're new to the game, I welcome you with open arms. Please read the manual before you start & always push yourself to the limit. Submerge yourself in art or whatever you do… eat, sleep & breath it.

    Arif Merritt
    http://thelab7.net
    http://unkommonkolor.com

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Nice comments Arif, well said.

  • samsunitsch

    The past decade has not only seen some amazing concepts in design and trend, it has allowed many designers albeit good and average the ability to show off their product. I love the way the internet has allowed access to some incredible art and how there is so much available to inspire and in some cases copy. The only downfall is that unfortunatley, it is very easy to steal a design, concept or idea. However I think that a truly exceptional designer will have come back clients and those with flyby talent will do just that. I am a calligrapher, painter, artist and armchair designer and I just love how much I can access-to inspire and admire. Yes, some concepts and trends are well used however everyones interpretation is different. You just have to look closer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajheinen Aaron Heinen

    papyrus font – most overused font I can ever fathom. It is seriously everywhere like an epidemic.
    twitter- even though this isn't design related, it is EVERYWHERE, even newscasters are starting to get their information from twitter!
    Also, reflective shadows I noticed have become a HUGE trend in designs, shadows on thumbnails, icons, basically anything that you want to “pop-out”

  • jacksonmarketon

    I think the avatar movie used Papyrus for the subtitles… I feel like a geek now..

  • Alby

    …rounded peel stickers are SSssooo overused

  • PG

    Us designers should be versatile and able to design in any style. Instead of following trends we should be creating the next new one. However, it seems like in order to be recognized or popular these days you have to have some sort of unique style or follow a certain trend.

    I respect the work GoMedia does, as you guys have created a niche for yourselves, but some of the products (Arsenal) you guys are pushing and many of the projects featured are essentially all trendy and overused, e.g., the grunge, vector circles, cut and paste clip art look, etc. So I find this article a little silly to be honest. I understand sometimes a client demands you to copy a certain style/trend, but we as designers should still continue to push the boundaries whenever possible and encourage our clients to do so as well.

    I don't think following trends every now and then is a crime. It only gets stale when that is the ONLY thing you do every time there's a project in front of you.

  • Aaron

    I currently work at a movie trailer design firm and were were astonished when Avatar went forward with there terrible trailers and graphics. They obviously didn't want to spend the money on design because they got so much “word of mouth” advertising.

  • Aaron

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but as a commercial artist I have to be very aware of these trends. While you may want to push yourself to create new trends, clients often want to see more of the same, and being able to replicate in your own style is important.

  • PG

    Yeah, it's definitely important to be aware of trends. But I think you'll also agree that another hat us designers have to wear is the one of a teacher. Sometimes we have to educate our clients in why “more of the same” isn't always a good idea. Of course there are special instances where a big name client can't deviate too much from their existing brand and must stay the same.

    Obviously you don't push boundaries by putting kiddie graphics on a heavy metal band's CD packaging, but is there another way to target the demographic without being trendy and looking the same? Can we communicate hardcore and edgy without the tired grunge and blood graphics? Designers are problem solvers, we should welcome these kind of challenges.

  • Aaron

    I really like your analogy of becoming the teacher to the clients. When you have a smart and flexible client, you can often push away from the “more of the same” approach. Being able to identify trends, in this case, is still very important because when playing the role of the teacher, you have to explain why that trend worked for other companies, and how you can push it in a new direction that will work better and more uniquely for your client.

  • prosthetics

    you have a really good point there, the only reason that clients insist on following certain trends, is to sell. so when you would introduce something totally new (which apparently becomes harder and harder these days) to a fairly big client, you should exactly know why that trend is going to be the next best thing, or at least convince them that it is.
    Since i'm just new in this world, I enjoy the fact that i can try a new style everyday, or go nuts when I got a project for a local gig, but naturally, I'm aiming a little bit higher than the coffee place around the corner. and then things become a little bit more complicated when one must predict where a trend is going, maybe even create a new trend, and still make it work and sell.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

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  • http://www.nanomatik.gen.tr nanomatik

    Yeah, it’s definitely important to be aware of trends. But I think
    you’ll also agree that another hat us designers have to wear is the one
    of a teacher. Sometimes we have to educate our clients in why “more of
    the same” isn’t always a good idea. Of course there are special
    instances where a big name client can’t deviate too much from their
    existing brand and must stay the same.

    Obviously you don’t push
    boundaries by putting kiddie graphics on a heavy metal band’s CD
    packaging, but is there another way to target the demographic without
    being trendy and looking the same? Can we communicate hardcore and edgy
    without the tired grunge and blood graphics? Designers are problem
    solvers, we should welcome these kind of challenges.