Will Skeuomorphism Really Ever Die?

Skeuomorphism is apparently out. Do you agree? Yeah, I didn’t know what skeuomorphism meant either. Just think of the pre-IOS7 user interfaces for the iphone; like the notes app. The notes app is designed to look like a real yellow-papered note pad with the lines and all. The font is even intended to look like you are writing your notes with a felt-tip marker. A subtle texture is included to mimic the tactile quality of paper. This design is not necessary for the function of taking notes on a digital interface, but is intended to resemble an older technique we would use to take notes. This is skeuomorphism.

Skeuomorphism isn’t limited to the realm of mobile interfaces. It can also include physical objects. Have you ever seen a push button phone that is designed to look like a rotary phone? Those of you 30 or older probably have. Vintage signs tend to have skeuomorphic elements. Textures are often added to a new sign to make it look rusted or aged, even though this does nothing to ad to the function the sign.

Skeuomorphism has taken a hit recently, but there are a couple of reasons why I think this aesthetic won’t be down for long. The first reason is we need more than function. Flat designs are clean, functional, and in vogue, but a world void of textures and physicality would become boring pretty quickly. I like a lot of “flat” designs, but I often want a design to go a bit beyond mere function. Flat designs can only go so far beyond practicality.

The second reason is we love to be reminded of elements of our past. We reminisce. There will be new things now that will be reminisced about in the future using skeuomorphism. It brings a comfort and familiarity to us. Things new now will become vintage. There is always an artsy group that loves vintage.