That bunny on the right sure looks like he is maxed out on his credit cards doesn’t he? He is one revved up rabbit? Lets talk about that.
At TheDieline.com earlier this week there was an interesting post, found here, mentioning the fact that General Mills is bringing back retro cereal boxes at some retailers. The contrast between the old and new Trix boxes struck a couple cords. One about design, one about life.
In January of 1984, on the Monday morning after the now famous Super Bowl commercial I went to the only Apple retailer in Manhattan and bought my first Macintosh. He had two in stock. One on the sales floor, the other he sold to me. I still have that crazy machine. Imagine the operating system, software, and files all on single sided 400k floppy disks, no internal hard drive, impossible!
I still vividly remember the first time I took a mouse in my hand and drew a simple oval in MacDraw, the world shook. I think I was New York Macintosh Users Group member number 34. So nobody can claim to be a bigger fan of technology and its influence on design. But I have watched, in the intervening 25 years, the work the design community has been creating, and have been increasingly concerned. We seem to be doing stuff, using the computer as the enabler, simply because we can.
Things have gotten extraordinarily complex. Look at that Trix logo, layers, outlines, blends, drop shadows, more blends, glows and all kinds of wacky photography manipulation for the cereal. Our friendly, care-free roller skating bunny has morphed into a maniacal character who certainly has had too many lattes with his Trix in the morning. There are beginning to be hints of a backlash. The renewed interest in design simplification, in packaging yes but also in many other venues, seems to be one manifestation of a larger trend towards simplifying one’s life.
Robert Plant won his recent Grammy not for the overpowering Led Zeppelin sound, but for a quiet bluegrass inspired album with Allison Krauss. People seem to be yearning for a simple fixed rate mortgage from a real hometown banker, not some online huckster of financial products, devising a no money down scheme packaged and sold to a foreign investor. February designer melons from Chile, shipped overnight on FedEx planes, are giving way to ownership of shares in a local vegetable farm.
The enabling tools for us as designers are Photoshop and Illustrator. The enabling tools of our lives have become the ATM, the credit card, and the second mortgage. We have created things simply because we could. Lets step back and see if we are really any better bringing this new level of complexity to our work and our lives. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the bunny on the left.
The image of the Trix boxes comes from TheDieline.com