A Designer’s Pet Peeve

Question: Is there any trend in contemporary design that you wish would just go away?

Khoi Vinh: I think there's a really selfish part of me that wishes I had the tools that I had today in the context of a designer practicing in the middle part of the 20th century when creating a single expression of an idea was the norm.  If you had the power of today's hardware and software and the networks available, you could create some really amazing, amazing sort of declarative examples of designs.  Some really terrific design solutions that had at the same time the privilege of not being questioned the way they were in the 20th century.  So, in a really selfish way, I wish I had that, but at the same time, what -- I know that what keeps me interested in my job and in the medium in general that what makes every few months more interesting, or newly interesting every few weeks, is the idea that everything is changing, that the ideas that you think are sacrosanct and unimpeachable suddenly are up for grabs again.  And I think that's turbulent, but I think there's a really refreshing sense of renewal there that always keeps me interested anyway.

Question: What specific design clichés or faux pas do you see other Web designers falling into?

Khoi Vinh: Yeah.  I think we are in this era right now where every element in a webpage is rendered to within an inch of its life.  I think if it's a button, it looks like a physical button, you know, if it's a mailbox that's meant to signal a messaging functionality then the whole mailbox right down to the rivets on the hypothetical metallic housing is rendered.  And I think there's a certain beauty to that school of design and illustration.  I'm hoping that it's something that's going to expire soon.  I think it's rather a little bit on the immature side, and I think there's actually an interesting correlation with the airbrush art that was really popular in the 70's where suddenly you had a new tool or a new interest in a tool that could produce like a new level of fidelity.  And I think as technology and expertise makes possible these sort of amazing levels of fidelity to the real world, a lot of people sort of get sort of -- what's the word I'm looking for -- seduced into that.  And after a time, they get tired of it and they become a little bit more interested, I think at a certain level of subtraction and a new level of sophistication.  And that's kind of where I'm hoping design will move in the next few years.

Recorded on March 3, 2010
Interviewed by Austin \r\nAllen

\r\n

Khoi Vinh hates websites on which everything is "rendered to within an inch of its life." Do we really need to see the little rivets on the mailbox icon?

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

Videos
  • Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
  • Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
  • In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
Keep reading Show less

Discovery of two giant radio galaxies hints at more to come

The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.

I. Heywood, University of Oxford / Rhodes University / South African Radio Astronomy Observatory / CC BY 4.0.
Surprising Science
  • Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
  • The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
  • The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.
Keep reading Show less

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
  • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
  • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Keep reading Show less

The secret life of maladaptive daydreaming

Daydreaming can be a pleasant pastime, but people who suffer from maladaptive daydreamers are trapped by their fantasies.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Maladaptive daydreamers can experience intricate, vivid daydreams for hours a day.
  • This addiction can result in disassociation from vital life tasks and relationships.
  • Psychologists, online communities, and social pipelines are spreading awareness and hope for many.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast