Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Jul 2013 16:09 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces "In its desire for authenticity, the Modern design movement curbed the ornamental excess of the 19th century, making design fit the age of mass production. Today, we're seeing the same desire for authenticity manifest itself in the 'flat' trend, which rejects skeuomorphism and excessive visuals for simpler, cleaner, content-focused design." Fascinating perspective on the whole digital vs. analog design debate by Dmitry Fadeyev.
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by judgen on Tue 16th Jul 2013 19:02 UTC
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I do not know if flat is just a trend, but i can bet my sweet a** it is. Even if they do not want skeuUI they sure as hell would like to know what is the ui and what is the content.

THAT is the problem with the Windows ex-metro UI.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Unification
by Kochise on Wed 17th Jul 2013 06:37 UTC in reply to "Unification"
Kochise Member since:

NOT unification... restoration :


Reply Score: 2

by Treza on Tue 16th Jul 2013 20:42 UTC
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How is removing textures and shadow and reliefs makes anything "authentic"?
It is not enough to follow the trend, they want to convince that it is the _right_ thing and everything else is ugly.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Authentic
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 16th Jul 2013 21:31 UTC in reply to "Authentic"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

A texture is a pattern that is often intended to make something ( a blob on your screen look like something else like wood or shiny metal) while shadows are places where light is not. Applications are not trees or Cadillacs or seats in a gulf stream jet. Therefore removing things that make them look like something they are not, makes them more authentically whatever it is that they are.

That's the thought anyways. Whether or not you agree with it is a different matter. I think its too reductionist.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Authentic
by Luminair on Tue 16th Jul 2013 23:30 UTC in reply to "Authentic"
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rejecting the look of "real" things makes sense because we are not real. anti-skeuomorphism people are completely logical in our own minds, and that is where we will stay forever.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Authentic
by kwan_e on Tue 16th Jul 2013 23:37 UTC in reply to "Authentic"
kwan_e Member since:

How is removing textures and shadow and reliefs makes anything "authentic"?

You have to understand that they mean it in a design lingo sense.

For example, you can have fonts that are "human", or "humanist". I have no idea what that's supposed to mean, other than some design bollocks that tries to make itself sound more important than it is.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Authentic
by thesunnyk on Wed 17th Jul 2013 00:06 UTC in reply to "Authentic"
thesunnyk Member since:

Amazingly I wrote about this myself like a day ago.

The key is understanding that the visual style is supposed to reflect the underlying mechanics, the "how it works" instead of putting new metaphors in the way. If you look at industrial equipment touchscreens, you'll notice that the design there has always tended towards being flat, and it will always be that way. The reason is that those machines are often resource constrained and coded as simply as possible, thus authentically referring to the code below.

Article here:

Edited 2013-07-17 00:06 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Authentic
by jgfenix on Wed 17th Jul 2013 07:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Authentic"
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Which is easier to remember: "I am reading page 34" or "I am reading line 2315"?
Visually depicting something as a page (even if you can scroll) enables better organization and measurement.

Reply Score: 4

What was old is new again.
by westlake on Wed 17th Jul 2013 00:27 UTC
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19th century ornament was often mass-produced. Modern design isn't always authentic.

The steam locomotive with an art deco shell is a classic example.

Minimalism can dead end in a design that is neither attractive or functional.

Reply Score: 4

Movements are misguided
by kwan_e on Wed 17th Jul 2013 04:57 UTC
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That it looks dumb when you visually depict something as a page, which it is then possible to scroll.

Except pages did use to scroll. We called them scrolls.

But more importantly, it is not genuine to visually depict that object as a page when the software defines it as something else.

Except the software defines whatever the it was written to define. If the software defines something as what it is in the physical world, then that's what it is in the software, making the argument moot.

If “design” is “how it works”, then “flat design” is “representing how a computer actually works”.

So it's not about how a computer works. It's about how we want the different file/media/concept to work in our minds and how to put that onto a screen.

In my mind, Wikipedia should look like a three dimensional network where I can see many linked pages and bring some closer and move some further away.

Flat design, or any other movement, doesn't bring that to the screen because the screen is fundamentally limited.

How do I best represent the metaphor that’s actually been coded?

So the question itself isn't even right. It's going about it backwards. You find the most efficient way to do something, then you code that. And you should code with enough flexibility so that other people who don't find that way efficient for them can switch to another.

Reply Score: 5

oh yes
by l3v1 on Wed 17th Jul 2013 05:37 UTC
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But as a style, “flat” is a choice, not a necessity.

This. A hundred times over. Lots of people preach flat=simple, 'modern' (what the hell should that mean, anyway), clean, and so on and so forth. Yet, I find most of the flat imlementations to be just that: flat, removing everything, even what could be useful, shadow, color, structure. So yes, remember: you can do nice 'flat' and ugly 'flat'. Please do more nice ones, since the most of what we see are just plain ugly.

Reply Score: 7

This reply will reflect several viewpoints
by TM99 on Wed 17th Jul 2013 08:03 UTC
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as my wife is a graphics designer and a visual artist in several mediums and my professional experience applies as well.

Did Apple's over-use skeuomorphism? Absolutely! But this current movement is nothing more than the Western psychic tendency to 'pendulum swing' from one opposite to another.

No one can absolutely define 'authenticity'. This is a subjective or a culturally subjective concept. To the 19th century designer, excessive ornamentation was 'authentic' for them.

This is yet another example of corporate authority and austerity. Artists are not pushing this movement, corporations are. And for the love of everything holy, when did the words 'mass production' become synonymous with the word 'authentic'. Talk about double-speak!

So who is defining 'authentic' for us? Is it the 25 year old designer fresh out of school with no real-world experience? Is it the project manager at Microsoft desperate to push through his vision of tablet design everywhere? Or is it the computer programmer on a blog who thinks she somehow knows a little about design when really she should just stick to what she does know which is coding?

If this is supposed to reflect the 'authenticity' of computers and computer applications themselves, this makes no sense. GEM and DOS were authentic. Machine language is authentic. 1's and 0's are what the computer does. Designing a flat GUI shell for a DOS makes sense when you only have 1Mhz of processing power and less than 1mb of RAM. It doesn't when you have 8 core dual processors, graphics cards with more processing power than 10 computers from a decade ago, and gigabytes of available RAM on 64 bit computers.

This seems ludicrous. Even if it is to somehow reflect that tablets and phones are supposedly lower power then this is a specious argument as well. After all, we now have quad core Arm CPU's paired with quad core GPU's and GB's of ram powering 'retina displays' on these devices. And trying to transfer flat & empty design for tablets with lots of white space and big buttons to our large non-touch screen displays is fucking stupid. We now have this gorgeous 27" wide screen computer screens and the fucking fonts are big enough for a person across the room to read! The search button is so large a giant could touch it!

This technological power ought to give us more choices not less. As a musician, I am struck deaf, blind, and dumb day after day by how much more computing and technological power is available to me than what I had 25 years ago to make and produce music. And yet with all of this incredible technology, we predominantly make shitty music that all sounds alike thanks to autotune and heavy vocal processing. It is compressed and limited to hell and back so that it can be played predominantly in the lossy mp3 format on the worst possible device (iTunes on an iPod) through cheap Chinese earbuds with the frequency range of a gnat.

Now it is happening to art and design. The promise of digital painting, full 3D model rendering, transparencies, drop-shadows, etc. that comes with the computing power of today is now being thrown out for flat, sterile, design being sold to us with the corporate double-speak of 'authentic' and 'modern'. Yeah, right, bullshit.

Reply Score: 5

strangely enough....
by unclefester on Wed 17th Jul 2013 08:39 UTC
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Strangely enough the "ignorant" masses overwhelming prefer the highly embellished architecture designed prior to the 20t century 19th to modern minimalist architecture (the Parthenon was originally a lurid technicolor creation rather than stark white marble shell that remains.)

Natural objects such as rocks, tree bark or insect wings are nearly always exceptionally detailed with a highly fractal appearance. Early designers understood that humans prefer intricate detail to blank features.

Reply Score: 3

Can't tell if authentic or just lazy
by Verenkeitin on Thu 18th Jul 2013 10:23 UTC
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Curious how, since the start of industrial age, current design trend always perfectly matches what requires the least amount of work. On physical objects there's clear cost benefit of making teapots out of steel pipes, but on software authentic design is just laziness.

There was a time when the laziest way to do web design was to play with Photoshop and regurgitate 1024 pixels width IE only layout.
Now that we have css and have to support more screen sizes, the laziest way to do web design is to define some fonts and flat colored boxes in css. Unfortunately this leaves "designers" too much time to play with jQuery to do pointlessly dynamic layouts.

Reply Score: 2

by nicholasj on Thu 18th Jul 2013 11:14 UTC
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Just curious, did anyone actually read the entire article? The author is very careful to say that too much minimalism is also a mistake.

User Interfaces are inevitably a language, a means for seeking input from and providing information to a user.

For me, the 'flat' or 'digital' design movement recognizes that we are exposed to more new information in an average day than our ancestors experienced in a year. There is growing evidence that it's no good for us.

I don't mean to be melodramatic, but this means there is an almost moral imperative for UI designers to do their utmost to reduce complexity and help users achieve their goals.

Most fundamentally, I want a UI to get out of my way and let me get stuff done. The clarity of digital design, and the attendant focus on interaction design is the right direction.

Reply Score: 2