A DeSign of the Times

By   |  Stashed in Graphic Design

It’s a deSign of the times!

It’s in our nature, as we move through time to note the trends that shape said times. And furthermore, one might say, it’s in our nature to cycle through these timely trends from time to time. We see it in so many aspects of our culture. Fashion, entertainment, design. Each one sharing this retro-revisiting that brings back popular past elements to recapture something from our formers. Fashion is known for going retro, as it is common for tv shows and movies to re-make or re-imagine plots, series, or films from yesteryear, but you can really see the trend towards the dialing things back in design.


Now, we’re not saying that designers have no original concepts or personal styles, far from it. In fact, it’s these concepts and styles that are blended with elements from before that make the piece retro, and not a re-make or re-imagined copy of something from the past. It’s that borrowing of design details that you see rampantly recycling through the community, and it’s done with awesome effectiveness. And these throw-backs to an earlier time seem to be resonating with the masses.

Solid Gold Bomb

From tastes in typography that turn back time, to color schemes that scream out from yesterday, to textures and filters that take us all back, these elements are apparent throughout the design field. Just as they did in the past, they fluctuate and cycle, but always applying a touch of the familiar as we search the sea of cyberspace and beyond. Cropping up across all genres of design, restyling the old with nuances of the new to create beautiful blends that bridge the gap of the generations they’ve crossed. It seems a workable way to offer an homage to the designs and designers that have inspired and shaped you. And as we said, it’s in our nature, and we have to stay true to our nature.

The above images as well as those featured below are all designs by James White, an amazingly talented designer whose focus on retro design elements has given rise to some astounding work.

Smashing Magazine 2 Year Anniversary

The Looking Glass

Varo Manifesto 1956

Retro Website Designs

We thought we would finish off with some of our favorite retro website designs. Hope you enjoy them like we do, if not, just pretend, it’s the retro thing to do.

CSS Tinderbox
CSS Tinderbox

Adaptd Web Design & Developement
Adaptd Web Design & Developement



About the Author

Angie Bowen is a freelance web & graphic designer and co-founder of Arbenting and Dead Wings Designs.

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  • http://www.kylesteed.com kyle steed

    great round-up of vintage designs/web designs. I LOVE the art of James White.

    kyle steed´s last post was… let it be me

  • http://thebookdesigners.blogspot.com/ Ian Shimkoviak

    Great little write-up. Exploring vintage vernaculars in visual communication devices is imperative to a designers success. Knowing styles and their originators as well as making informed use of post-modern reference in ones design can raise the bar and really give your design an authentic voice—not a dated one.

    Great book designers like Milton Glacer and Carin Goldberg were masters of this ability to bring back retro forms in an original, modern context. This post-modern approach to work quickly beat down the rather boring grid-based modernism seen in the early masters.

    Love the posts. GREAT work.

    Ian Shimkoviak´s last post was… Can you hear me now? Are we relevant now?

  • http://www.zerroq.lv Marcuss Zilgalvis

    Those are neat ;)

  • http://www.mc2gd.com Tom McLean

    First of all, may I say thank you Angie for introducing me to James White, they are fantastic pieces.

    I agree with you that elements of the past can be combined with a modern twist to create extremely lively pieces of design. You only have to look at the recent trend of using the constructivist style to see this, the CSS Tinderbox website above is a good example.

    I do think it would benefit your article if you provided examples of the original pieces of design which have inspired those above. Some of us weren’t around for the first iteration. ;)
    Also it would strengthen the argument if you provided alternative examples of modern print design rather than a single designer as you have done with the websites.

    Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.csstinderbox.com Raymond

    thanks for including my site alongside some great designers. personally i don’t feel that i can hold a match to their work, so i really appreciate the props.

    Raymond´s last post was… Cross-Browser Testing In Real Time… Virtually

  • http://arbent.net Angie Bowen

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Sorry that we just focused on James, but his work embodied the concept so well. Not that others don’t, but we wanted to just stay on a singular focus. Mainly because, it’s kind of a think piece that’s intended to get you looking around at your favorite designs and designers to see if you catch any of these patterns in their work. (we just didn’t necessarily want to spell it out) ;)

    And Raymond, don’t sell yourself short. You’re site was an easy addition!

    Angie Bowen´s last post was… Getting Your Traffic ‘Right’!

  • AJ Troxell

    woo for bringing it back!

  • http://www.krisadams.co.za Kris

    Yay for vintage :)

    Nice round-up

  • http://www.1stwebdesigner.com Dainis Graveris

    Angie, I am amazed that You find so much time doing guest posts for everybody..this article is nice one too :)

    Dainis Graveris´s last post was… 40 Really Stunning HDR Car Photos, Resources And Tutorials