Design History and Styles: Pioneering Designers


Computer combined with other media
Computers and software make it possible to discover new ideas and explore varieties that designers could not easily do until a couple of decades ago. However, it demands more of the designer. Learning a suite of designer applications is, to many designers, a steep learning curve that can break a creative workflow. Especially if, and when, the designers get stuck in technology or interaction with certain tools.

The agony of choice!
Before today’s software and computers, graphic design was “analog”. It was less complex but time-consuming and tedious. It took a long time to produce a collection of design proposals the way we can today.

Ever stood by the cereal counter wondering what would be the best cereal to choose? There are too many types to choose from. I think modern graphic design combined with new technology contribute to the same agony of choice. We get more done in a shorter time.

Too easy to settle on a design idea too quickly
When working digitally we tend to get to the end-results too quickly – jumping over steps that would be natural using traditional tools and materials. It’s time-consuming and I think it’s an important aspect.

We miss out on digging into the problem by manually exploring ideas. Digital tools may tempt designers to go straight to the refining stages, and production ready material is at hand in an instant. We email the client for approval. No one has yet touched a printed sample.

Spoiled and demanding clients
Clients are getting used to having their needs quickly covered, simply because the technology makes it possible. Modern ways have increased this way of solving design issues. The natural maturating process, the time needed to adjust accordingly, is often bypassed. What impact this may have on the brand is not an exact science, but really good ideas typically submerge after some time of exploration and research. We may miss out on the really good idea.

Would I have it otherwise?
I think there are so many benefits with the aid of technology and software that I would never go back. But I should try to combine non-digital and digital material more. See too Marian Bantjes. Using the non-digital material in her designs (i.e. plastlina) and building handcrafted patterns are time-consuming work. And it looks like it is intentional, well thought through, not accidental nor by luck. It also looks very personal. This contrast the Swiss design style that sought to distance the designer from the message and create a universal style of solving design issues.

Though text and imagery are working well together, I can’t help thinking that this style is more subjective than objective.

A more personally interpreted style can be fruitful. The diversity is inspiring. Trends come and go. In a short time, I would probably like something else entirely, most likely influenced by a new trend.

Borckmann or Hofmann liked the Swiss style. I think it was their personal style more than anything else. It was their way of reflecting the time they lived in. It just happened to become very popular. If you create a piece of Swiss design, like Hofmann did it, you’ll definitely not create something entirely personal. The point is I don’t think there’s no such thing as objectivity.

We designers are strange. We develop styles, rules, grids, systems, steps, processes, frameworks and other specifics, while on the other hand work hard to break out of the walls we just put up. We want so much to break our own rules it hurts, and at the same time feel we must “honor the code”.

“the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules” – Pirates of the Caribbean

So, I am free to pick a little here and there and also add some of my personal touches to the mix. And no design-fascist is going to stop me – not even me 🙂


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