Digital Designers, Please Stop History From Repeating Itself

by Petter Silfver

1928 Jan Tschichold wrote a book called “The New Typography“. He partly wrote the book as a reaction to what he thought were the horrific typographic styles of the late 19th and early 20th century. Tschichold refuted the then reigning decorative conventions by manifesting rules for grids, proportions and composition of type and type-based design (source: Art in the Age).

Let us fast forward to present day. We are in the midst of an ongoing discussion on whether or not digital user-interfaces should look a certain way. In a true young-and-witty-Tschichold manner, some argue that the more decorative style of skeuomorphic UI’s are simply terrible, and that the “new” kid in town –- flat UI –– is the only way forward. Some even call it “authentically digital”, although it relies heavily on the conventions of International Typographic Style and its unidirectional intent. However, this is not my point.

My point is that Tschichold years after writing The New Typography changed his mind.

By 1933, however, Tschichold was beginning to regret his espousal of experiment and reform. He returned to his traditional birthright. As a designer with a strong historical apprenticeship…

Alexander S Lawson

In his later years, Tschichold mellowed, acknowledging the merits of traditional typography and expressing regret at having tried to codify creativity.

Tova Rabinowitz

Please take a moment and reflect upon this fact through the lens of “skeuomorphic vs. flat UI” design. It can be a quite reckless to think that there is a binary answer to something that is not even a question to begin with. It is even more reckless if you combine this attitude with the power of being able to affect the opinions of thousand of impressionable young designers. For everyone’s sake, please stop history from repeating itself.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day

Stephen Hunt

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