The popular debate that made skeuomorphism a household word among a certain class of people started around the release of iOS 7, when the iPhone interface switched from a rich, metaphorical design with iconic references to analog objects to a flat design aesthetic.
The civilian dinner table conversation (as opposed to the desktop, video chat and office discourse — which, no doubt, raged for far longer and in more technical depth) centered around the difference between what was commonly viewed as Steve Jobs’ vision — user interfaces referencing familiar objects that people understand and that are drawn in a detailed, often realistic way, and the same objects rendered in a flat, minimalist, almost symbolic way.
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One example, widely considered as going too far with the theme, was Apple’s iCal app, with its faux stitched leather interface that many people deeply detested.
This clip is a segment from an upcoming documentary, App: The Human Story, due for release this year, which features a series of interviews from assorted app development luminaries and experts. In this video, designer Neven Mrgan compares skeuomorphism to a classic car — and strikes a fascinating chord.
Like skeuomorphism itself, much about the topic still appears open to interpretation, but this is a simple and friendly analysis of the concept.
It’s not that they look real, but they looked rich, like a lot of work had been put into them. That’s what people latch on to. [as opposed to] You end up with some designs that are stunning in their minimalism but not as friendly anymore. And when they age, they will age in a way that people say, “Oh, that’s when we went simple with things rather than, “isn’t this incredible.”
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