New Age of Minimalism
When Larry Page took control as Google’s CEO in 2011 his first directive was an holistic design effort; “We’re going to redesign all of our products”. Since then, you just can’t ignore the complete overhaul on their most known applications, services and products — Google+, YouTube, Gmail — among others.
This clear effort in unifying the design and experience of the web giant across all platforms – Chrome, Android, IOS – focused on a few design principles such as white space, cleanliness, elasticity, usefulness, simplicity and above all consistency.
Stylistically it ended occupying a place between Apple’s skeuomorphic designs (centered on visual mnemonics of real objects) and Microsoft almost purely typographic “Metro” language.
Most recently, in 2012 ebay also moved towards simplicity. Lippincot dropped the bouncy and somewhat funny feel and reduced the logo to its essential elements. It clearly resulted in a compromise between dynamism and modernity while preserving its heritage. Certainly a more serious, confident and less RGB brand.
On pair with ebay, in 2012 Microsoft also unveiled a rebrand in which it goes towards a minimalist approach. No gradients or multiple tones. Flat and simple symbol with a neutral and non-italic typeface.
In fact, it perfectly punctuates the massive effort Microsoft has been doing on its user interface design. It started back then with Zune user interface, which pioneered a very minimalist typographic navigation based on the “content over chrome” premise; which later became the setting spark of windows phone 8 operating system. Typography, Fluidity, Content focus and Honesty, the four design principles that go back to the Swiss graphic design and minimalist principles, and apply them in the digital era.
Clearly the innovation is in giving content the spotlight.
Lastly but not late Apple also embraced this stylistic trend on IOS 7 (the first interface design project led by Jonathan Ive). In a farewell to skeuomorphism it presented us a mobile experience stripped of ornaments, clearer, lighter and also with a stronger focus on content.
Although I’m neither a fan of Helvetica neue light in very small sizes nor some of the icon design solutions, it definitely has a swiss design kinda flavour that makes it a much more more enjoyable experience.
Complexity meets simplification. Gradients turn flat.
Aren’t we entering a new age of minimalism?