Steve Jobs famously expressed that the essence of design goes beyond its appearance and tactile experience—it encompasses how it functions. He shared this insightful perspective nearly two decades ago when the iPod was gaining recognition as a cultural phenomenon. The iPod, visually captivating with its sleek aesthetics reminiscent of Dieter Rams' clean lines, adhered to the principle of "less but better." It brought to the masses a product that seamlessly delivered the marvel of having "1000 songs in your pocket." This exemplified the notion that the form of a design should align with its purpose.
However, much has evolved since Jobs delivered his renowned keynote speech. Today, design is more intricate, dynamic, and adaptable than ever before. In many ways, modern design in 2022 remains true to its roots: marrying aesthetics and problem-solving. Well-executed design has the power to profoundly transform a brand's impact, ensuring its relevance, and eliciting a visceral response and preference from the target audience.
Putting humans at the center and navigating contradictions
Design has always reflected the spirit of the times while embodying a progressive and visionary outlook on the future. To accomplish this, the best designs must prioritize humans, acknowledging the broader needs of society while also understanding individuals on a deep and empathetic level.
In addition, modern design must skillfully manage various paradoxes. We crave both reassurance and excitement, familiarity and surprise, resonance and enchantment. From grand concepts that capture the collective mood to subtle details that may go unnoticed but greatly impact our lives, these paradoxes are inherent in our response to modern design.
Both the function and emotion of design play a crucial role, intentionally serving a purpose and evoking meaningful experiences.
Design is intentional... and by design.
An evolving landscape
Technology has profoundly transformed our world, exposing us to a constant stream of visual, verbal, and auditory designs and interactions. However, this abundance can easily become overwhelming and chaotic if we are not mindful. With the emergence of new touchpoints and communication channels, our expectations of how brands and designs present themselves have escalated.
In the past, we would admire well-designed brands from a distance. Now, we seek engagement and interaction, whether it's swiping a screen or personalizing our product choices. We desire greater involvement and influence, and we expect designs to be responsive enough to fulfill this longing. We increasingly demand brands to be innovative. Consequently, brand design can no longer remain rigid and inflexible.
The environment in which brands operate is in a constant state of transformation, necessitating the adaptation of brand design. This transformation is particularly evident with the rise of tech-savvy Generation Z and the emerging attitudes of Generation Alpha, who rely on brands and technology to navigate both the physical and virtual realms.
As brands strive to embrace a more organic and dynamic presence, driven by significant technological advancements, societal changes, and the evolving natural world, this fluid state presents both challenges and opportunities for the future of Modern Design and its implementation.
Expanding perspectives and navigating challenges
A sentence depicting a corgi in suit walking a dragon hybrid rabbit may make perfect sense to some but appear nonsensical to others. However, it reflects the times we live in. Artificial intelligence, specifically GPT-3, enables the translation of spoken or written words into visual representations. If a thought can be conceived or spoken, it can now be brought to life visually. Take a moment to ponder this. The power of brand ideas has never been more crucial, as well as their dynamic execution and realization.
Inspiration and amplification
Design has always been influenced by the prevailing sources of inspiration and the available means of production or amplification. In the past, cave paintings were the expressive medium for designers whose lives revolved around hunting and survival. During the age of industrialization, with machinery and factories as the dominant influences, designers leveraged industrial printing and graphic production, giving rise to movements like Bauhaus, leading to innovative furniture design, unique typefaces, and non-natural color and material choices.
Today, our inspiration stems from the wealth of data and a global consciousness regarding our planet's fragility and societal inequalities. Combined with the increasing availability and expectation of amplification and production through AR/VR, CGI, and the demand for brands to create immersive motion, sonic, and multi-sensory experiences, it is clear that Modern Design must adapt and bring purpose to life. While design has always aimed for simplicity and reduction ("less is more" as coined by Mies Van der Rohe), the diverse range of inspirations and amplification options in the current creative landscape demands a distinct skill set to orchestrate and navigate this dynamic and complex terrain.
"Help me understand the context in which design and my brand exist" and "Ensure my brand stands out in a crowded and intricate world" encapsulate the essence of the matter. In this complex world, Modern Design must walk a fine line. This leads us to important considerations:
• How does your brand need to adapt to the contemporary world?
• Is your brand flexible enough to encompass future touchpoints and media?
• Which elements of your brand should be retired, elevated, or invested in?
These questions delve into the core of Modern Design, urging us to explore the ever-evolving landscape and adapt accordingly.
And this is where our assistance comes into play. Space and Shapes play apart in Versatile brands excel in optimizing and harnessing a diverse range of assets across various mediums and real-world contexts. This approach empowers contemporary brands not only to establish global consistency and local resonance but also to become an integral part of culture, narrate compelling stories, and embody their purpose.