Flat design is all the rage today, but it may surprise you to know that for years, designers worked incredibly hard to move in the opposite direction. The history of flat design starts with the rise of digital graphics and the race to create increasingly lifelike illustration and designs.
The advent of digital design led to the rise of skeuomorphism, the trend to create lifelike renderings in graphics and overall illustration. This movement focused on continuing to create flashy, complex, and 3D images that mimicked real actions.
Skeuomorphism, however, reached a critical point due to its excessive focus on imitating real life, and led to some pushback from designers and regular users. After all, there isn’t much value in being able to simulate something on a computer screen in 3D if it can be done more easily and effective in two dimensions.
This abrupt change of heart led many designers to look back on simpler times and focus on the core of their illustrations. Instead of 3D elements, flat design focuses on providing minimalist and stripped-down versions of real-life objects. Understanding flat design can help you generate more unique logo designs that are timeless and resonate with consumers.
Flat design strips away complex design elements to create a minimalist illustration. Flat illustrations are clean, crisp, and feature flat colors as opposed to gradients. They also emphasize simplicity and result in more icon-like designs.
As opposed to skeuomorphism’s three-dimensional designs and lifelike pictures, flat design is exclusively two-dimensional. This makes illustrations look flat and removes the realism that 3D objects strive to accomplish. Instead of models, flat designs look more like icons and simple symbols.
Additionally, to replace the many elements skeuomorphic designs use, flat designs use geometric shapes, bold fonts, and loud colors to heighten their appeal. As a result, flat designs are far from boring, displaying a simple and memorable design.
The current trend of flat design is relatively new, but the idea behind it is actually the product of three different design philosophies: the Bauhaus movement, the Modernist movement, and the Swiss Style. Flat design became immensely popular during the 1950s and 1960s, sparking a trend that continued until the start of the digital era.
As digital design tilted toward more realistic designs thanks to Apple’s iPhone interface, flat design fell out of favor in the digital world. Skeuomorphism also led to a bigger demand for realistic designs that gave users a sense of familiarity with the new tools they were using. However, skeuomorphic designs are difficult to read, and not as relevant in a digital format.
Eventually, consumers and designers both preferred a return to simpler design, resulting in a reemergence for flat design. Although it had made small comebacks in the early 2000s, flat design really made a statement with the release of Apple’s iOS 7, which fully embraced the style and brought it back into the mainstream consciousness.
Today, flat design is widely used, and logos tend to opt for two-dimensional designs over more complex 3D illustrations. While it is not quite a universal standard, flat design is one of the most popular styles for logos and other graphics.
While flat design removes many design elements from the table, including gradients, textures, shadows, and more, it does use the tools at its disposal to create dynamic and appealing images.
These are some of our favorite flat design examples:
In some cases, embracing a new trend is more than jumping on a fad. While skeuomorphic designs are not completely obsolete, flat logos often provide a simpler and more appealing design. By dispensing with the clutter and complexity of older designs, companies can produce a more streamlined brand that features a modern feel.
Flat design offers an opportunity for quick, engaging, and memorable logos that give you flexibility and scalability. With vibrant colors, clean shapes, and a drive for simplicity, this style is an excellent choice for brands in any industry.