Change in Design

By the time you finish reading this, everything will have changed and I’ll have to start again.

Technology has been an obvious catalyst for change in design, as we view design on screen more than ever before. This shift of format means we not only have to adapt mediums, but also the experiences we create with them. Interfaces and apps are developing quicker than we can learn the latest version of Creative Cloud and it’s often hard to cope with how fast pace the digital era has made our industry.


The new Macbook by Apple

It allows us to constantly revise, thus everything digital we design is simply a version of something better to come. Having the power to continually update, tweak and improve our work, challenges the idea that a design is ever truly ‘finished’, which is a fundamental stage of fulfilment. The internet has created a world where change is both ephemeral and permanent, so we must be agile with our processes.

In terms of print, I think too many people believe it’s some sort of endangered animal—destined for the same fate as the Tasmanian Tiger. In my humble opinion these people need to chill out. Print isn’t dying, it’s just different to how it previously existed and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For starters, print isn’t measurable therefore the return of investment is uncertain. This is a major contributing factor to the decline of print based campaigns and the uproar of digital marketing.

Now I’m not going to go ‘Greenpeace’ on you as I’m hardly a model citizen for the environmental, however it is better for the planet. Less paper means less waste of limited environmental resources, creating a more sustainable future for everyone—yes you all know, have been there and got the t-shirt.


Beautiful branding and letterpress printing by The Hungry Workshop

We easily forget that not all print design is a stunning uncoated paper brochure, printed offset with a gold foil cover. There is evil print design that lives in this world too, and I personally could do without the mountains of bullshit flyers and junk mail that gets shoved in my mailbox every week. If print was to die, at least that rubbish would burn with it. Things that do make it to press now are so much more valuable and considered. The Letterpress industry has boomed in the last 5 years as more and more people now appreciate the tactility and craft of specialty printing.

Additionally, social media has had an equally positive and negative impact on design. Today everyone is a photographer, everyone is a writer and certainly everyone is head of their own marketing department. With talent now being measured in ‘likes’ and credibility by the number of monthly page views, it’s hard to distinguish whether social media is doing more bad then good. Weighing it up objectively, is social media giving amateurs a run for their money or just running professionals out of it?

Apple iPhone 6 / Instragram @amerrymishap

This then leads into the idea of value, where design is changing in the same nature. Is everyone that has a computer now a designer? This seems to be the perception and yet not everyone with a scalpel is a surgeon. The role of a graphic designer has been redefined since it’s inception—we are expected to bring a lot more to the table than pretty pictures. Ultimately I see change in design as opportunity. To deal with something you simply have to accept it, grab hold of the reins and embrace it.

Originally written for the launch of the new Billy Blue College of Design campus, in response to the question ‘How do you see change in design, and how do you deal with it?’

Gabby Lord