This is something I have wanted to talk about for some time now. I have realized that the blogs people like are the ones where people speak their minds, so here I go. No holds barred.
I had a brief conversation with one of the proprietors of the local sneaker shop/design firm The 400 tonight about this very subject. I have predicted for a while now that the inevitable backlash to the sketchy, crazy, pattern-heavy, super-colorful, graf-inspired, skateboarding, out of LA, monsters, skulls, over-the-top, out of my sketchbook, I just learned how to use illustrator, photoshop-collage, watch me use the glow filter trend, would be a return to minimalism. Black and white, primary colors, simple diagonals, circles and clean typography.
I have been waiting in the wings now to see an interest resurface in people like Herbert Bayer. I fell in love with him and his work in college. Of course Alexander Rodchenko has already been a strong influence on people like Shepard Fairey, but you can’t really call Rodchenko’s work minimalism. However you can definitely draw a line from Rodchenko’s work to De Stijl and eventually the almighty Bauhaus (and I am not talking about the band). Although the Bauhaus and people like Jan Tschichold, Herbert Matter, Piet Zwart and Bradbury Thompson are all still profound influences on modern design, regardless of whether or not young designers have been educated as to their prior existence, the real heavy hitter I am of course referring to is the International Typographic Style also known as The Swiss Style.
It is at that particular point in design history that you see a pretty distinct shift that has overwhelmingly influenced what you could call modern graphic design and typography. If minimalism does return in the sense that young designers would understand, it would most likely be influenced by the International Typographic Style. When I first saw the work of Josef Muller Brockmann, my life as a Graphic Designer and Typographer was forever changed. There was a simplicity in form combined with typography that conveyed a level of purity to which I had not yet encountered at the time. It was there that I really became hooked on Graphic Design and Typography.
So why do you ask, is there not more of that influence visible in my work? Well that is a complicated question, and the short answer is that trendy design sells. So call me a sell out. However, I really do think minimalism will begin making a strong comeback and you can already see the undercurrent if you look closely. Already clothing and shoe designers are toning down their colors and materials. I think when things are reduced to their essence a certain clarity comes about that people are craving right now. We need something more cerebral. We need to cut out the clutter and find zen. So don’t be surprised to see more and more of less and less starting to surface. The great thing is, when you cut things down to purity of form it isolates the people who like to hide behind style posing as substance. You really have to know what you are doing to work with pure elements and still produce something attractive that communicates.
So I am digging out my books because I think a new trend will soon emerge and it is one that I am a lot more comfortable with and will be more than happy to participate in.