Artist Pierre Buttin has taken brutalist design to a new extreme with a series of redesigned mobile apps. In his latest project, titled Brutalist redesigns, Buttin renders Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other popular apps in a brutalist style, with text-heavy layouts and flattened designs.
Buttin says he incorporated elements from Brutalist Websites, a site that highlights rugged — or “ugly” — web design. The site’s founder, Pascal Deville, defines brutalist web design by “its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy,” characterizing it as “a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of today’s web design.” The aesthetic has seen a resurgence online in recent years, leading Buttin to wonder what it may look like in the mobile sphere.
“The aim of this project is to start a conversation about what’s coming UI-wise, and how it should be done,” Buttin writes on his website. “Indeed, it seems that brutalism is still loosely defined: is it more about Swiss minimalism or just raw coding?”
Buttin, whose previous digital projects have explored online multitasking and abstracted Tinder profiles, says Instagram “paved the way” for brutalist app design with the “bold” update it released last year. His rendering of the photo sharing app is identical to the current version, and others, such as WhatsApp and Amazon, don’t look drastically different. Other redesigns, such as Twitter and Candy Crush, are far more extreme.
In an email to The Verge, he points to mobile sites like Bloomberg, The Outline, and Balenciaga as a sign that brutalism is moving “from avant garde to mainstream,” and he speculates that more may follow the trend as “the public taste will evolve.” There may be other incentives for app designers, as well; as Buttin notes, some experts have suggested that text-heavy designs drive higher user engagement.
“We have seen the rise of flat design, and it seems that designers now look at pushing it to the extremes,” the Lyon-based artist tells The Verge. And although he isn’t sure whether brutalism is the future of UI design, Button hopes “that this project will keep the conversation going in the tech industry.”
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