What’s in a Decade: Design Edition

The 2010’s was an era of shift, change and innovation. From the start of the decade aspects of music, technology and trends made dramatic shifts from the norm of the 2000s, changing the perspective and taste of our upbringing. However, among all of these broad changes, was one we unknowingly saw change and inevitably accepted: Design.

Whether one likes or dislikes today’s fashion or music style can vary from person to person, but design plays such a massive role in all our lives that it causes us to lose sight of these changes and almost forces us to accept them. So it begs the question, why does design change and why have we shifted into minimalism?

The 2000s brought an era of design where gradient and high detail was appreciated for the realism and natural forms it brought to our everyday items, from a can of Pepsi to the entire interface of a personal computer.

“The point of the gradient-based design was to show the realistic designs that computers could do at the time,” says Sivan Spiel, a senior art student from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA). “Since we know the details computers are capable of, we don’t feel the need to see detail-oriented designs anymore.”

The concept of high detail design in terms of technology was structured around the innovation of computers and the internet. Companies were driven to create designs that conformed to the complexity of computers to adjust to the appeal of the people. This trend continues with the growing popularity of the internet, where companies are more likely to connect with consumers and structure their marketing toward their appeal.

“I call this cultural consensus, where people decide what’s acceptable and popular,” says Mr. Twarog, one of FSSA’s art teachers.

The upbringing of minimalism in the 2010s was fueled by this adjustment of larger companies connecting with their audience through the evolving internet and the convenience of a smartphone.

Minimalism has become the focal shift of today’s advertising and can be defined as the “use of simple, typically massive, forms.”

“The best way to get your point across is by not showing more than you have to and only revealing to the viewer what is necessary. That is why minimalism is favored. The older designs show more than what is necessary,” says FSSA senior art student, Justin Pruitt. “They [minimalistic designs] are much easier on the eyes and more appealing to look at than a design that is pushed too far.”

Minimalism in this sense has become a marketing attribute to many companies where the use of simple shapes or subtle colors for a logo or product design makes for a more memorable product. Consumers tend to draw their eyes to objects they can understand and make out rather than one that is too confusing or complex.

Despite the positive outlooks on minimalism visually, many see it as a shift in societal taste.

“I feel like these simpler designs have to do with our attention spans and how many aren’t interested in seeing something too complicated,” says FSSA senior art student, Alba Kuçuku.

Because of the ubiquity of cell phones, humans have become used to instant gratification and the mindset of ease. This may evoke minimalism as consumers see appeal in designs that immediately provide the motive of a brand, displaying digestible and easy to look at visuals.

Designs that become too convoluted may resonate differently to a consumer, creating a eye-tiring, and unwelcoming association to a company or product.

While many see the aesthetic aspect of minimalism, others feel that the shift of design is simply to make a product more modern.

“In order to get people excited about an old idea, they change up the look,” mentions Mr. Twarog.

This occurrence can be exemplified by the drastic changes visually that many technology companies have shifted toward in the past 10 years. Operating systems such as that of the iPhone’s in 2009 look remarkably different from that of today’s, where gradients and natural colors have been replaced by bright colors and basic shapes. The 2010s brought upon a period of design where simplicity is favored creating a mostly accepted and pleasing look.

Whether it’s the advertisement on your train ride home, or the cell
phone you use every day, minimalism made up a huge part of our lives during this decade and has paved the future of design.

However, with any sort of change comes its own inevitable shift, leaving us questioning whether minimalism is here to stay or simply another temporary era.

– by Neo Haralambou ’20