Flat design is an everlasting trend, a design style which focuses on simple, elegant bidimensional shapes. Its popularity increased after the release of iOS7 and the “mobile revolution”, but its origin can be traced back to Bauhaus Graphic Design, Mies Van der Rohe motto “Less is More” and “Ornament and Crime” essay by Adolf Loos.
Image source: bauhaus-style (freepik.com)
The Origin of Flat Design
Bauhaus and Swiss Style can be considered the starting points of flat design, because these movements believed in the idea of the form which follows the function, resulting in a design based on simplicity and functionality without useless features. In fact, Swiss Style and flat design share many characteristics:
- composition based on grids;
- clean use of typography;
- importance of visual hierarchy.
These are the characteristics that influenced nowadays UI and Logo Design, and therefore, in many cases, logo redesigns just reuse old logos readapted for modern devices and media.
Less is More!Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Image source: Bauhaus – Wikipedia
Flat Design and UI
The new communication via social media requires a brand to refresh and redesign its identity. This necessity of simplicity is caused by digital supports and influenced contemporary evolution in visual design. After the release of Windows 8 in 2012 by Microsoft, Apple presented the new iOS 7 User Interface in 2013, refreshing the glassy and 3D style of the past versions in a flat and simple interface. Apple, as the world leader in the mobile market, set a standard, and digital communication just adapted over the years. The new “old” Flat Design trend was perfect to match the needs of mobile and apps revolution, getting rid of any unuseful effect or “ornament” that caused longer and heavier downloads, just like Adolf Loos did with Architecture in his essay “Ornament and Crime”.
Flat Design and Automotive
Flat design has influenced many sectors, from tech to fashion, conditioning UI and logos. Talking about logos, automotive industry lived a bidimensional revolution during last years. Starting with Mini in 2015, Audi and Citroen in 2016, and continuing with Toyota and Volkswagen in 2019, Nissan and BMW in 2020, all these important brands have redesigned their logos with a 2D style. Recently, even Renault and Peugeot have presented their new logos, with a flat style too.
Is This Just A Trend?
Dan Beckett, Toyota Lead Designer, explained better the reasons behind this evolution in logo design: “With the advent of digital brand touchpoints and especially small mobile screens, all those fiddly bevels and gradients meant the logos became little grey smudges, indistinguishable from one another.
I don’t see [flat design] as a new trend, I see it as the logical solution to a universal problem created by a different trend.”Dan Beckett
Image source: About — Dan Beckett
Case Study: the Peugeot logo redesign
Peugeot is a good example of old logos reused for modern visual identity. In fact, this new version removes the lion’s body after almost 50 years, focusing the attention on the head, represented in the classic left side, recalling the older Peugeot’s 1960 logo. Apparently, the new version is aiming to give the carmaker a new look, more centered on electric technology, and even more sportive. In fact, the new logo has been presented together with the next communication trend of the entire brand which has a copy that reminds a more aggressive and inclusive tone of voice (“Lions of our time”), hovering photos of ideal Peugeot users with the logo.
Image source: Peugeot.uk