Designers are original, creative souls who live nothing more than picking brand new concepts out of the ether, showing us innovative exciting ways to interpret and use the world around us. That is, unless there’s something that’s pretty popular around at the moment. Then they’ll just do that.
Here are three design fads that we would happily see put away for a while.
Steampunk is a design aesthetic popular among sci-fi, comic and gaming fandoms. It harkens back to a romanticised version of the Victorian era, where computers, robots and spaceships are all powered by coal and run on cogs and gears. There is something undeniably charming about it, seeing all that brass and piping and zeppelins, for some reason there are always of lot of zeppelins, or sometimes dirigibles, because apparently nobody can just say “balloon” anymore.
Seen in: Bioshock Infinity, Sherlock Holmes, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Why it needs to die: The trouble is, so many of the people who love steampunk manage to spectacularly miss the point of that whole period of history. The British Empire in Victorian times was responsible for plundering large parts of the rest of the world, usually the parts with brown people in them. This was an age where it was a really bad idea to be anything other than a rich white dude, and you’ll find that most the steampunk heroes you see are just that. There are far more Steampunk characters along the lines of carefree adventurers like Phileas Fog than there are Steampunk chimney sweeps and workhouse rats.
More than that though, can we please, please just take a moment to ask what all those cogs are for? It’s getting to the point where you just seem to be sticking them anywhere and hoping for the best.
We’re living in the future now. The age of 3D printers and robotic drone strikes and robots sending back footage from the surface of Mars while athletes with artificial legs are winning Olympic medals. Three years from now Back to the Future II will officially be set in the present day.
Since we’re living in the future, the world should naturally look like an unused Tron colouring book, lots of smooth white surfaces everywhere. Hi-tech!
Seen in: Absolutely anything that has an “i” in front of its name, the new Star Trek movie, certain banks that have got a bit full of themselves.
Why it has to die: Featureless whiteness isn’t a design. That’s what’s on the paper before you do a design. Worse, the future (the real future, not the now future) is going to think we’re stupid for this Ever been to one of those massive, concrete monstrosities of a university campus? Their designers thought they were being hi-tech as well, once.
Transparent Interface with a Photo Behind It
Just as Apple is responsible for the big white sheet of nothing, Bing owns the putting a nice photo behind your interface trick. We know this, because a couple of years ago Google got lots of well earned mockery when it tried the same thing.
It makes a weird sort of sense. After all, if plain white rectangles are the sign of something being futuristic, what could be more futuristic than that? Completely see-through rectangles! Don’t believe me? This is what many people are expect the next iPhone to look like.
Seen in: Bing, Windows 7, Looper, Google
Why it has to die: For the same reason white rectangles do. Making something see-through is the opposite of good design jobs.
Chris Farnell is a freelance writer and blogger who covers design and marketing issues.