Classic Trends & Mid-Century Typography
Fashions and trends seem to cycle round, looping across various timeframes. Over the past two years we saw a short but pronounced resurgence in reverse-contrast typefaces, first referred to as “Italian” in 1821. Influential in this recent trend was Pentagram’s poster for the fall 2014 series of lectures and exhibitions at the Yale School of Architecture. (by Michael Bierut and Jessica Svendsento). The fad seems to have died off just as quickly as it appeared but I’ve been wondering for a while what the next big influence on type and lettering will be.
I’m not sure if predicting these trends is possible but a model for how the are generated is described in a 2012 paper, The Logic of Fashion Cycles (Alberto Acerbi ,Stefano Ghirlanda,Magnus Enquist). The results state:
“The reason [that traits eventually disappear] is that as soon as a trait becomes common, high-status individuals abandon it, which in turns triggers abandonment from low-status individuals.”
The paper distinguishes between two types of cultural fashions: brief fads and “classic” styles.
“…the status model may account for brief fads, but not for “classic” styles such as the four-in-hand tie knot popular since the early 20th century, or English names such as Mary and John.”
With all this in mind, I’ve been thinking about which are the classic trends in type and lettering. One examples is the graphic style which solidified during the mid 20th century and seems to be constantly in vogue and influential. I’m not talking about the good design principles set out after WWII by the likes of Paul Rand, but more the styles this period evokes.
Above, I’ve collected a few examples from the excellent collection, Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design, which represent a few themes I see as prevalent in graphic design today.