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Just like changes in clothing styles, publication design
trends often confound us. We're repeatedly confronted
with things we swear we'll never wear, but sooner or
later these fads filter into the design mainstream and
onto our pages. But unlike clothing styles, trends in
publication design aren't introduced by predictable
parades down a fashion runway. The trends are distilled
rather than revealed. They mutate and evolve as they
rub up against history, culture, technology and our brief
attention spans.

Evaluate Design Trends
Fads might perplex and confuse us, but watching,
interpreting and then evaluating these trends can be a
valuable opportunity for design education.

Design watching can be a passive or active process. In a
passive mode we simply react to design with an "I like
this/I don't like that" mentality. A more active approach
postpones critical judgments until we have described the
elements at work in a design and made some attempt to
interpret what they mean. Some people call this the DIE
method of critique, an acronym for Describe, Interpret
and Evaluate.

Requiring students to painstakingly describe the
elements of a design forces a meticulous attention to
detail that prevents them from either mindlessly
embracing or summarily rejecting a particular look. It also
requires them to cultivate a visual vocabulary, if you will,
that deals with concepts like line, space, form, color,
perspective, depth and contrast, just to name a few.

Adding To Design Education
Looking at the way designers are influenced by broader
cultural themes can also aid design interpretation and

Analyzing technological influences can also provide
insights into how design trends seem to swing on a
pendulum which first celebrates a new technology and
then turns on it and runs the other way.

Give Design a Context
At the very least, the decision to imitate a design trend
may be based on nothing more than the questions "Will
it make my presentation look fashionable and how hard
is it to get my computer to do it?"
But imitation can also
be a sincere form of education if it prompts students to
go beyond simply identifying trends as "awesome" to the
more interesting questions of what the styles mean.

The above information was adapted from an article by Vance L.
Kornegay who teaches courses in graphics at the College of
Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South

To see the original article go to


      Designers are influenced by trends,
  materials, technological developments,
  social requirements and human needs.
  Today, industrial designers, for example,
  have changed the way they design
  products. There are many factors now
  that will influence a design such as
  safety, new and emerging materials and
  the 'green factor'. Whereas, in the
  1960s, design was mainly about style
  and looks. In the 1970s and 1980s,
  designs were strongly influenced by
  technological developments.

  It's OK to be influenced by another's
  design, but you must then make it your
  own, do something to it that gives it
  your signature

  You will have an increased capacity to
  create meaningful, original design as
  a result of having examined the
  philosophies and methodologies that
  have driven major stylistic trends in
  graphic design

  Trends and cycles are inevitable.
  Tracking historical trends can give a
  clearer vision to the future. How can
  we logically look forward to set new
  courses if we first do not see where
  we have been?