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 evaluation.
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 Carolina.
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?