Standardized interfaces. In order to better adapt and evolve, companies standardize their interfaces, just like a hundred years ago designers began to use standardized parts to speed up the mass manufacture of goods. This is obvious in mobile app design, where the app’s interface components typically conform to a selection provided by the platform, allowing those components to be updated in step with operating system updates. This also happens on the Web, where components are modularized in order to make it easier to make site-wide updates. The result of this is that design itself is standardized and modularized, and in turn, simplified and stripped of style, because when the designer begins to think of their work not in terms of compositions but in terms of parts, they will always come up with simpler and simpler parts since each part is thought of as a brick in a larger whole, and thus must be simplified to make it usable in multiple contexts. And so, we arrive at the opposite of a painter or a sculptor who decorates a particular part of a building in the context that it will be seen to a maker of bricks whose products can be used in as many contexts as possible, and while the advantage of the latter is obvious, the aspect of the former is lost.

October 2015