The Progenitor of Postmodern Design

The term “postmodernism” was first coined to describe architectural designs that amplify and distort established code. It was originally a reaction to modernism – a cultural movement which had become increasingly rigid and inflexible, and irrelevant to the complexity and fluidity that characterizes contemporary society.

The visual qualities of postmodern design can, paradoxically, be defined by the fact that they cannot be defined; anything goes, everything is acceptable, and the only rule is that there are no rules. In general terms, postmodern graphics tends to be visually rich and complex, using space in a layered and 3-dimensional way and prioritizing aesthetics over any single meaning. For postmodern designers, readability tends to be more important than legibility and form more important than function.

At our Charlotte marketing agency, we are huge fans of postmodern print design (although our clients tend not to be), and when Raygun Magazine came out in the mid 90s (pre-birdsong gregory), we all found what David Carson was doing as creative director at this short-lived music/lifestyle magazine to be bold, brave, and breathtaking.

If you’re not familiar with David’s work, or you think he is just another grunge designer who hates legibility, then you need to read this insightful interview with one of the most influential and innovative designers alive today.

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