Abstract versus Mimesis

Theoretical work about user interface design with abstract and mimetic approaches and their roots in modern art.

Abstract vs. Mimesis
Theoretical work

With the release of Windows Phone and it’s design language called Metro (now €œMicrosoft Design Language€) a slow but strong progesss startet in the design€“ more the interface design €“ discourse which widen to a more public discussion with the release of iOS 7. I am talking about abstract design. Better known as €flat design€.

In this theoretical work I mainly compare both user interfaces of the popular operating systems Apple iOS (excluding iOS 7) and Microsoft Windows Phone. Each of them represent a precedence for contrasting design approaches. While Windows Phone signyfies the abstract non presentational approach, iOS stands for a mimetic yet skeuomorphic design philosophy.
Before Windows Phone was rolled out the overall design tendency was an Apple inspired, photo realistic and skeumorphistic one. To see an example you just have to open your iCal Calendar on your Mac. Down to the present day this went through a severe change. When we have a look at current design networks like Dribbble or Behance we see almost entirely an abstract €flat€ €“aesthetics.

How does this paradigm change happen? To answer this we have to go nearly exact a hundred years back in time to the beginning of what we call the (artistic) modernism. At this time we see an almost similar debate between abstract and mimetic (depictive representation). In order to show that I chose the oeuvre of the contemprary artists Kasimir Malewitsch and Edward Hopper. When we have closer look on their intentions in painting we see that they resemble to to the arguments of the current discourse.

When I wrote this text in early 2013 I tried to give a outlook of the interface design of the future. I am very glad to see that it seems my assumptions came true with the latest trends in design. The redevelopement of iOSs design language can be considered as one of the most obvious examples.

The was compnent of an exam at university comparable to a bachelor thesis. Currently it is only availabe in German language.
Supervising lecturer: Bernd Draser M.A.
You can read and download the whole text here
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Happy reading!

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