‘Flat’ Underlines Creative Knack


I have to laugh at some of the reactions to so-called ‘flat’ interface designs for apps, operating systems and websites. The naysayers throw about criticisms like “it’s bland”, “it’s too ugly” or “that’s boring”, but since when did using drop-shadows, bevels and highlights become so important to graphic design?

Put it this way: those opponents of flat design perceive flatness as being a passing fad, when in fact the ‘sculpted’ look is the newcomer – and we can chart its progress in parallel to the addition of push-button features within graphic design applications. When it became easy to go sculpted, the sculpted look took off.

I’m more interested in the underlying shapes, the relationship between white space and objects, and the communication of The Message. Get the underlying design correct and we shouldn’t need to add frippery in great quantity. I’ve received criticism in the past for using flat design but hey, that’s my style. It’s nice to know that I’ve accidentally become on-trend. Or, has the market caught up with me? ;)

Not every graphic artist who employs the sculpted look gets the underlying design wrong – but it can be easy to mask poor design, with the client left wondering why, for example, they can’t pick out key information.

Over at The Drum a recent blog post examines this very issue, but I disagree with the contention that flat design is something new. Take a look at graphic design from the 1940s onwards. In particular, examine the strongest brand logos that have received only evolutionary changes over the decades. They’ll be flat, of that you can be sure.

Another way of saying ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. And, surely, great things start with a KISS?