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Design Trends - Kitsch .


Becky /

In our final post of our 4 part series I will be covering Kitsch design. We've already covered Skeuomorphism, Interactive design and Claymorphism so if you've not read those I'd suggest checking them out.

In this last post, I'm looking at a recent trend that will probably create a marmite opinion. We're split here in the team, so it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

So what is kitsch design? Is it for you, and how to achieve it!

Is it any surprise that digital trends seem to follow fashion trends? Styles get recycled. Some of us love it, some of us loathe it, as I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be seen dead in those elasticated flares I wore in the early 00s. Still, here we are, guys. They're everywhere. However, digital design sometimes follows fashion trends, and the Y2K look is coming back, and it's no real surprise that it bleeds into the digital world. Welcome Kitsch design, and I think it will be a marmite opinion. I quite like the fun nature of this trend. Whilst some of it conflicts with what I have learnt throughout the years, it also creates space to be more creative before we learnt to design by specific rules.

This site is an excellent example of this ‘new’ trend: Kurt Champion

Note the old school windows, the lack of any grid systems, basic fonts, and no genuine concern about where the user should look first, along with dated checkboxes.

With the kitsch design, we're entering a less structured process. There are no significant rules, and as for grids -potential blasphemy! Some are even calling it the anti-designer trend. Think less polished and more garish? Whilst I think a lot of the sites are fun, a part of me is concerned about usability and accessibility and not pissing users off because we want to appear 'cool'. So I think Kitsch has its place, but if used in the wrong environment, it could be a disaster. For instance - in e-commerce, keep it simple, I wanna buy something, I wanna add it to my basket, I wanna pay for it, and it's likely I don't want to be distracted by 'an experience' and leave without purchasing something. But there are undoubtedly other places I think it works, and it's fun, and it's nice not to always play by the rules and have a more creative licence.

For example, this portfolio site by Ryan Haskins is undoubtedly attention-grabbing. Still, to its credit, it makes me want to click around and explore, and as a potential client, it gives me some insight into what Ryan might be like to work with - I’m thinking fun. There’s no specific font selected, and as for H1 and H2? Non-existent. Colour pallet? Forget it, pal. Straightforward navigational journey? Nope. But I love it, and I think this is a perfect example of Kitsch. Whilst someone might look at this site and think it’s not very good, I guarantee it’s not as easy to create something like this as you might think: Ryan Haskins

As a designer of my coughs age, we have had grids, pixels, spacing, complimentary colours, and gorgeous fonts drilled into us. We have likely spent far too long painstakingly questioning a correct border radius and then the padding to coincide with that, but none of that matters anymore. Whilst it might seem an easy task to design something that appears fun and easy, it's hard to ignore everything I have learnt over the last 15 years. So hats off to the sites that achieve this.

Fancy trying to create your own kitsch look? Why not take a go with our tutorial: Kitsch Design Tutorial

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