Digital design is becoming increasingly flat. It was once that designers strived to be more and more realistic adding shadows, gradients, and glares. Now that realism has been achieved what’s left? As though in retaliation against the wave of skeuomorphism many companies are designing flatter. Microsoft are a great example of this.
The gloss gradients and shadows have been stripped back. The once gaudy and wildly different logos of all of microsoft’s various faucets have been flattened and made into a coherent whole. Confusingly though, microsoft’s logo remains very close to Paula Scher’s windows rebrand. Since microsoft’s bold rebrand apple now seems somewhat outdated.
Stiched leather (supposedly modelled on Job’s private jet seats) and glossy buttons that apple popularised now seem flashy and cheap. Fortunately. this seems to be changing since Scott Forstall was fired and industrial designer Jonathan Ive’s has taken his place. That is not to say all skeuomorphism is bad though and I still think it should exist, the topic has been talked to death though so I will leave it there.
So why is this happening? Many argue it’s a trend against realism and will change but I think it goes deeper. Scaleability is a huge benefit in an age where wide screen tvs and phones share the same operating system. In the case of microsoft we can see it creates coherent design across multiple areas. With a flat design normally comes a simpler design. Minimalism done well makes navigation and UX easier as our technology complicates.