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The evolution of design shows you how to learn design insightfully. | Slangbusters Blog
Jul 21, '20

The evolution of design shows you how to learn design insightfully.

History teaches us a lot. But if you look at it closely, the evolution of processes seem to be in a loop. If you notice even further, you will see that everything will come back to its fundamentals. The process of evolution is nothing but humans collectively learning and growing.

Design is as old as time, safe to say it can be called as a concept even older than time. The natural way of design has been the root of everything that there is today, in this universe. What design is today, and how we as humans comprehend the concept and put it to use has gone through many many movements, periods, and iterations to get to where it is today. It has been evolving since and will always be reinventing itself as long as we indulge in it while it brings beauty to functionality.

Evolution at the core is the natural selection of what works best. You could avoid a lot of mistakes if you see how nature learns. Let’s see how the design evolved into what it is today, and maybe it will give us an insight into how we should better our sense of design as brand builders, strategists, designers, and creators.

Disclaimer: The word design is an umbrella term that describes way more than what most think it does, but, here, we are looking at the evolution of visual design, with a bias for graphic on-screen and off-screen design.

The design timeline:

The cavemen can be called the first designers to have painted the walls of the caves, some instances, stories of their daily lives and hand marks, and other things that they might have thought were important to keep a record of.

Cut to 3100 BC when the Egyptians created the hieroglyphs that helped communicate better. Followed by Phoenicians who created the first alphabet and the Chinese who invented paper out of papyrus in 150 BC. These collectively have probably created the base of how we design, from the functionalities to tools and even language to communicate with more and more precision.

Then, in 1450 AC, Gutenberg invented the press printer, making it easier to mass print books. A decade later, in 1460, Albrecht Pfister published the first printed illustrated book. This could arguably be the first instance of visual design, apart from the design of letters and alphabet- which takes us to the year 1530 when Claude Garamond opens the first type foundry to create and sell font styles to printers and publishers.

Lascaux Cave Paintings

A few centuries later, N.W. Ayer & Sons opened the first advertising agency in 1869 and then, the concept of design was ripe for undergoing various movements. In 1890, we saw the Art Nouveau movement which aimed at changing design. Two decades later, in 1915, Alexander Rodchenko seeds the movement that would later be known as constructivism. In a year’s time, in 1916, Hugo Ball writes the Dada manifesto, which was not just a design movement, it was philosophical, political, and even poetic in nature. This is probably where the concept of design was at its height of dynamism since the gaps between revolutions and evolution of design concepts were getting shorter and shorter and more and more artists were innovating and experimenting with various tools and mediums to create.

In 1923, the term ‘Graphic Design’ was used for the first time by William Addison Dwiggins. Followed by the Art Deco movement that started in 1925, Stanley Morison created Times New Roman in 1932, Paul rand Publishes ‘Thoughts on Design’ in 1947, which is the first-ever book that focuses on the concept of design. In 1957, Max Miedinger created the timeless typeface, Helvetica. We see the pop art movement in 1959, postmodernism in 1968, and a new wave of design in the ’70s and ’80s that most of us are not just familiar with, but also influenced by.

Boom! and then, Apple released the first Macintosh in 1984 featuring a novel innovation of bitmap graphics. 1985 sees the Pagemaker software developed by Paul Brainerd for desktop publishing. The 1990s were just the beginning of such a wave in design innovation that the ripples are still creating movement in the design community. Adobe released the first version of photoshop, we got the World Wide Web thanks to Tim Berners, along with the HTML and concept of the web address.

The beginning of the 21st century brought about not just a new chapter in the design revolution, but also a parallel digital revolution that really accelerated the way we design and think of a design. Information became global and accessible. By 2015, we were already over what we can call the first draft of this novel technology and the proof can be seen in the Google logo which is now entirely flattened and sleek. We are now delving into gradient design and motion graphics.

Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

To design is to adapt.

As a designer, you have signed up for a dynamic industry where you will always be learning.

Who invented the bicycle? There has been a debate about it for quite some time now because collectively, the world was innovating. We had the wheel, we wanted to move, a need-based innovation made sure the invention of the bicycle was due.

We see the problem-solving aspect as the core of how we design today. But oftentimes, it is possible for designers to come up with a patch solution rather than a timeless one. Look at the evolution timeline once again- Notice how fundamentals took centuries to develop but the tools and movements took mere decades or even lesser. Have your fundamentals set straight and never be afraid to change and of change. But never forget the fundamentals and you will gain more confidence in how you design.

Great inventions don’t make great inventors, great inventors make great inventions. If you think you have a great idea, come to Slangbusters to reach a full realization of that idea and see it transform into a great brand. Contact us now.

— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio

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