We'll have a closer look at what flat design is in this article. What's the common denominator of the latin name for Switzerland, the city of Berlin 1928 and Microsoft's universally mocked iPod copy Zune? It's flat design.

Skeumorphic design of the Safari-icon compared to a flat design from http://appicns.com/

With iOS 7 and Windows 8 the trend of flat design has become mainstream in digital design. This is probably not the first post you're reading about flat design. However it's always good to put things in perspective to better understand them by looking at the historical context and background. Best case scenario is that that this post will help you make better design decisions and worst case it scenario is that it'll give you 10 minutes of interesting reading on the topic of design.


Flat design UI Kit from http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2013/05/flat-ui-kit-free-download/

Flat design may seem like something new and exciting and it's undeniably a style that has propagated quickly. But, taking inventory of design history, flat design is nothing new. Flat design is strongly influenced both by what is know as Swiss Typography and minimalism and it's is basically a reincarnation of both these styles from the print design era.

What is the origin of flat design?

Almost every design language we encounter on the web or in other digital media platforms has it's origins in print media. It's not an easy task to determine in exactly what style movement flat design of today has it's origin, but there are a few time periods in design and art which are preeminent as role models and sources of inspiration.

Swiss style

Neue Grafik Magazine from july 1959. Source: http://www.studyblue.com/notes/note/n/the-swiss-style–international-style-in-europe/deck/6859781

Swiss Style is sometimes refered to as International Typographic Style and has it's origins in the Neue Typographie movement which was founded by Jan Tschichold: Jan Tschichold, Die neue Typographie, Ein Handbuch für zeitgemäss Schaffende, Berlin, Verlag des Bildungsverbandes der Deutschen Buchdrucker, 1928. The New Typography the Swiss Style was the dominating influence of design in the 1940's and 1950's.