Skeuo-morpha-huh? Yes, it’s a strange word but 2013 has certainly been the year that this lovable graphic style died (with Jony Ive delivering the official final nail in the coffin). If you’re not familiar with the trend, skeuomorphism is a style which attempts to replicate the look of real-world objects in user interfaces.
Here’s a great definition:
“From the calculator that apes its tangible counterpart to the virtual “paper” that comes replete with grain, staples, ruled lines and margins, many of the interfaces we use are digital ghosts of their real-world selves. Painstakingly rendered textures like paper, leather and wood have all, at one time, been all the rage to lend a familiar façade to unfamiliar technologies.” (source)
But slowly this graphic technique has started to fall out of style in favor of ‘flat’ design. Flat design throws away all of the trickery and fuss of skeuomorphism (gradients, dropshadows, reflections, beveled edges etc) and focuses on simple, clean, bright design that ‘flatvocates’ will say pushes functionality ahead of form.
I believe both styles are beautiful, and offer different functional advantages to the user. For example, a skeuomorphic paper fold in the corner of an ebook is an intuitive way to indicate where to turn the page, but is it more effective than a simple ‘flat’ arrow pointing right? The jury is still out. I believe there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to design something. It all depends on the job, the client and the intended purpose. That being said, it seems almost everybody in design is literally going ‘flat out’.
But it is a little sad to see beautiful skeuomorphism falling out of favor. It’s an incredibly difficult style to get right (perhaps the reason so many designers are fleeing from it?), and when done well, it can be truly breathtaking. So I wanted to put together a little collection of some sexy skeuomorphic design to remind us all of how wonderful it can be.