Outstreched arm

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kitsch of the '00s

We are seeing the development of a new kitsch - just like the 70s gave us the disco eye-fucks and the 80s grossed us out with Miami Vice pinks and lipstick strokes over idiotic geometry, the '00s have started producing soon-to-be-regrettable kitsch. I present to you, in the form of logo redesign comparisons, a quick breakdown of this gradient-and-transparency-happy, idea-free visual haggis lacking concept, communicative power, and expressivity:

00 Logo redesigns

These are ugly, overtrendy, instantly passé designs; what's more pathetic is how lost they seem. Why is the AT&T logo keeping Saul Bass' beautiful shadelines if they are going to just render the sphere? Where did the chevrons in Chevron's logo go? Is UPS a football team? Did Sears really need a swoosh so badly?

AT&T and UPS are "remixes" of the originals... Why? They just do away with the very concepts of the originals. What was the Fiat redesign brief like - "Don't convey anything. Nothing. Stay away from communicating any thought. Blank out your mind and be one with nothingness."

If these were entirely new logos, the drunk-on-Illustrator-CS shininess would be distracting, but at least we could see what, if anything, the designer was trying to communicate. With these, however, the creative process seems to have gone something like,

"Ok, we need to keep the basic shape of the logo. But we can't just move things a little, MoMA-style, or the client will think we're slacking. So, let's see - take out all these bits that mean something, and add generic new ones to represent... uh... change, right... a "modern attitude," we'll call it. And add a gradient. And make something transparent, ferchrissake. Pick a new typeface - nah, I don't care, just something new."

You can tell kitsch by the defense that's always presented for it: "most people will like it better." Sure, sure. And Kinkade is the true voice of our times.