- what is Flat Design?As the name indicates, flat design is defined by flatness of style: simplifying an interface by removing extra elements such as shadows, bevels, textures and gradients that create a 3D look.The idea is to create a finished design that lives in only two dimensions, without losing any of the functionality that a “regular” interface provides. This creates a new challenge for the designer, because by stripping an interface of its decorations and effects, it becomes harder to define the main actions and elements in a design.Flat design comes from the wish to create more digital interfaces, and an open canvas for interface innovation in digital devices. A good example of flat design is this icon design collection for Mac OSX, where some of the most famous Mac icons are re-imagined as flat versions of themselves. You can easily see how the icons maintain their style and form even though they’re stripped of details, shadows and textures.
- Evolution of Flat DesignHistorically, in design as in fashion, trends tend to shift continually between the complex and the simple. This is becoming more obvious in the visual design field, especially in web and multimedia, where designs are more ephemeral and don’t last as long as in traditional print supports.The term “Flat Design” was coined and popularised by Allan Grinshtein, from LayerVault,a Version Control for Designers. In his post “The Flat Design Era”, Allan explains that “elegant interfaces are ones that have the most impact with the fewest elements”. The idea is that a minimalistic interface can be better suited to its function when compared to a more embellished, complex one. The community took this on board, having being bombarded with skeuomorphic interfaces over the past year.
Since then, flat design has come on in leaps and bounds. Most flat design schemes have five characteristics – no added effects, simple design and UI elements, a focus on typography, a focus on color and an overall minimalist approach. You can find out more about these characteristics in Designmodo’s post on the Principles of Flat Design. You might also want to check out the Flat UI Free Interface Kit.
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