Back to Grunge?

For the sake of argument, let’s say that there are only three “styles” of design. I like to call them “Swiss-style,” “Grunge,” and “Book.” And from my perspective, they seem to follow each other cyclically like clockwork, every 6 years or so. Most of my childhood design was in Grunge, (graffiti, techno-fonts, broken letters, etc.) 

In my late teens it seemed like serif was “the bees knees.” Over the past 7 years we seemed to be in another “Swiss-style” period. Helvetica was so over used that it’s going to be hard to ever use it again. Some tried to save the sans serif era by cramming in Trade, Interstate, or Gotham in the dying years of Swiss but it was inevitable, we are now back at Grunge.

But this time it feels like it has returned in a more designer-friendly way; its purpose, thankfully, seems not to kill beautiful design and replace it with kitsch and extremism. After being tortured by Helvetica for so long, we missed the personal and unique touch, the look and feel of something genuine and true in comparison to big and corporate. Some recent examples of this more toned down approach include:

Lowe Steiner, a friend of a friend and a graphic designer who never departed from the hand drawn world for the strict typeface stuff. His work is beautiful, funny, and sweetly naive. Most important: every line is unique. Have a look.

Another designer, Mike Kus‘s work is a good example of web design also taking this step.

3 thoughts on “Back to Grunge?

  1. Gary J Moss

    If this is grunge, it has incorporated some of the essentials of Swiss-style. Swiss-style is much more than the choice of Helvetica. It’s how the information is organized and visually prioritized and recognizing that the form of the negative space is as important as that of the positive. And it’s readable!

  2. Jon Whitbeck

    Love this brief, insightful, provocative article. My favorite lines: “…replace it with kitsch and extremism” and “beautiful, sunny, and sweetly naive”. I shared this on Twitter, but wanted to give the author credit with his @username, but alas, I couldn’t find it.
    Thanks for this post! 🙂