As Digital Media Goes Two-Dimensional, the Flat Versus Real Debate Wages On

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As Digital Media Goes Two-Dimensional, the Flat Versus Real Debate Wages On

If you have a smart phone, the Internet, or the gift of vision, you’ve noticed the latest trend in graphic design. Even if you don’t know it by name, it would be hard not to see that digital media has gone flat.

Flat design isn’t particularly new, but it’s reemerging with a whole new fervor. Gaining prominence in 2012 with the release of Windows 8 and then gaining buzz-worthy status with Apple’s redesign and release of iOS7 in 2013, flat design has taken over the look and feel of everything from company logos to smart phone apps.

Image ByArhelix;

What largely existed before was a form of design rooted in what’s known as skeuomorphism, or simply realism. It aims to represent objects as they are.

Image ByDmitri Litvinov;

Image ByBjorn Endre Langeland

If you haven’t been paying attention, here is how the two design styles vary. Common elements of skeuomorphism include textures, bevels, drop shadows and reflective effects. Flat design trades most, if not all of those ornamental elements for a minimalist approach full of bold colors, defined lines and very little shadowing.

Image ByRovane Durso

Image ByKonstantin Datz

With the digital world going two-dimensional, flat versus real has become the go-to debate of designers and users of digital media.

Phot0 ViaInTacto Digital Agency

Phot0 ViaInTacto Digital Agency

Perhaps the best all-in-one example of flat versus real design, and the debate that surrounds it, is a website by InTacto Digital Agency. The interactive agency’s award-winning website is equal parts infographic and game. Flat vs. Realism lets visitors participate literally in the battle between the two styles of design. Through two characters, King Realism and a rationalist leader named Flat, you follow a storyline of one design empire falling to the other. By scrolling, the website takes you through the movie-like storyline that comes to a head by asking you to choose a side and battle it out through a series of keyboard shortcuts. No matter what side you choose, we can all agree that InTacto Digital Agency is the real winner for conveying the debate so creatively.

Flat design, many have argued, is about functionality. It’s reemerging as we view so much of the world on a flat phone, computer or tablet screen. Skeuomorphism on the other hand is about aesthetic. In the end, it’s really just subjective. Regardless of what side you’re one, flat design is winning the war and waving its victory flag at you every time you answer you go to iPhone, open a new website or download a new app.