As a graphic designer I have found it always very interesting that how designs made in past look very outdated, unfit, out of place, underwhelming and just wrong. Even though i know it's true designs/trends of today WILL become the old ones in near future. But why...what is it about us or designs that makes them like that to us.

So far I have thought of several things maybe it's one of these or mixture....

  • Newer designs/trends are in fact an Improvement? or ..
  • Novelty of newer designs hasn't just worn off? So in comparison they look better.
  • Old designs are beautiful it's just they functionally hard for us as we are accustomed to other forms of retrieving message.

But the thing that bothers me is that if most/some designs' newer version looks better just because it's better related to current era, achievements, and technical capabilities, then why does it appear that designs have improved in all last 10 iterations per decade. If my view is subjective to previous and newer design..then why do designs of era in which i don't live in or lived in appear progressively getting better.

For that i have also happen to have some things in my mind...

  • I am shortsighted in a way that most designs i get to see today are on digital media and digital media has been technologically challenged in its abilities so That means there is "Good Design" for the most part.
  • There is Good Design and recently good UI, public representation, marketing is becoming a more of a priority...seriously most sites in past looked liked they were meant to be used by desperate people.
  • They were just designed bad without consideration of aesthetics..I say that because some art looks just amazing even if it was made 2000 years ago..some things just do look beautiful.

So do old art/designs/logo/typography look repulsive subjectively or they objectively are inferior?

  • Why should this be re-opened? Was there anything not answered in the other question?
    – JohnB
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 16:48
  • i think maybe because other answer reasoning is that "it goes out of fashion" and it goes more over case by case that how this is irrelevant or relevant to current era..but it dosen't explain points that i've listed like 1) Some designs look good even if they are old whereas most look progressively bad as they get older. 2) the eras we have no connection with still seem to show this trend, newer is better. In a way this questions builds on conversation of the other question.
    – user8795
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


I would say old design methods/traits/trends/art are objectively inclusive and we cannot easily distinguish the good and bad between time periods. I suspect design is evolutionary and what takes place and drives the evolution is largely based on the human psyche and socioeconomic norms of that time. By this I mean, we as designers market conceptual idea's (be it for a website or brochure or tv ad) and we have slowly over time discovered what drives the human psyche into accepting one thing over the other. We have become very very good at it and this is represented in how large the industry has become. As you mentioned, we are examining every emotive action a clients customer has with a particular design; case in point the emphasis on UI and UX today is huge.

We (the public) in today's society are keen to processing information incredibly quick. Not that we (the public) are any more or less capable than our predecessors, we simply expect more information in the same amount of time. And as designers we give them what they want because capitalism dictates.

In conclusion, I think consumerism (of informative information) is the reason why you have an idea that old things could be subjectively repulsive. It's your appetite or consumption of information that places you at odds. I'd also suspect because some of the technologies "back then" are inferior today, we may interpret them as abnormal and may be another rejection.

  • I did say that art that is often outside the realm of digital world looks beautiful and well done even though it's ancient. not all things old are repulsive.
    – user8795
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 6:55