We will always have minimalism – the reason it keeps coming back in vogue is because it is so clean, classic and purifying, but in the increasingly present world of design – you can have too much of a good thing, and at this moment, many designers seem to feel that indulgence is minimalism – or it’s web-cousins: flat design and material design.
For sure flat design isn’t going away anytime soon, rather we are needing elements that give visual interest to it – sharp patterns and geometric elements are one big trend. The other is more organic and analog.
The Matisse “Cut-out” Look
It seems appropriate, in this time of austerity (in design and in general) that Matisse’s exhibit of bold irreverent and joyful “cut-outs” should bring the largest crowds ever (to London Tate and also the MoMA). Similarly in graphic design we see, if not direct references to Matisse’s cutouts then similar handmade crafty bits placed whimsically in layouts – letters even, out of traditional formation.
With the rise of flat design comes the need for elements to add visual interest. Sharp geometric patterns are a great way of achieving this within the lexicon, so expect to see them adding depth to flat designed interfaces, especially in those vibrant 80s colours. This trend cracks me up a bit because it feels like we are rebelling against a digital machine minimalism with a quirky style that really took hold in the desktop revolution of the 80s, an era, that many in the profession argued was the worst. A design era that many railed against for the cheap reproducible look of computer generated shapes.
Where is that design pendulum now?
We are at that point again in the design pendulum (from cool minimalism to warm decoration) where analog crafts make their way back into design portfolios, and patterns are playing a big role in that. Whether they’re geometric or more organic, these non-repetitive and quirky patterns break the overly digital or flat-designed mould to emphasize a human element.
This pendulum has been swaying back and forth between extreme minimalism to decorative display (even to the point of an outright rejection of the form) since the beginning of modern design. Which is why you could easily see similarities right now with these quirky arrangements that play with a rigid modern canvas to dada, the bauhaus/neue typographie and even the deconstructed style of David Carson.