a response to “I Made This Just for You: A Brief History of Design, 1999-2009”

The article refers to the advertising trends of the last 10 years and the devel0pment of  ‘I, me, and you’ – that over-personalization of design that began with the iMac, iPod, MySpace, My Yahoo, YouTube, and others. It states that this direction of advertising caused the “me” generation to develop into a “look at me” generation. What this meant for design was the revival of hand-drawn illustration, something ‘less than perfect’ than the clean cut, computer generated design of the early 90s, the rise of ‘handwriting’ fonts and letterpress typography.

Marian Bantjes says “The pendulum of art and design has always swung between austerity and ostentation…We’d been in austerity for a while, and for whatever reason, people found ornamentation beautiful again.”

I find myself going both ways…I enjoy the simple, clean and white graphics designed by Apple, but I also love Bantjes’ work as well. I think that I am drawn to designs that are more ornate because more time and effort was put into them…especially if it is obvious that the work was done with hand (i.e., the medium is pen, paper, sugar, flower petals, or some other non-computer related device). So much of the work during the late 80s and early 90s was ‘grunge’…and looked as if a 3rd grader using Microsoft Publisher had created it.

There have been several buzzwords floating around business and design world in the last decade…words like ‘green,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘sustainability,’ which have been used so much now they have ceased to have the impact that they originally did. I was caught by the comment by Brian Collins of the Martin Agency: “In the early aughts, I used the word ‘amplify’ a lot — ‘amplify brand values,’ ‘amplify meaning.’ But that sounded a lot like screaming, when what I wanted to do was resonate. ‘Resonate’ implies listening as well as speaking, inviting other people into the dialogue. It’s a different value.” I have to agree…the more someone shouts, the less anyone else will listen out of sheer annoyance. But a quiet reverberation, that starts small but spreads out and affects and ever-widening pool of listeners, echoing onward and outward until most have taken notice, will be the most effective strategy in the end.

Of course, the next question will be… “how is that resonance accomplished?”


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