In Response to Landmark Websites

Over at Speak Up Armin posed the following, i’m summarizing because you can get lost in all of the comments over there, and I wanted to solidify my point as a complete idea:

Milton Glaser’s Dylan poster. Paul Rand’s IBM logo. Paula Scher’s Public Theater posters. Massimo Vignelli’s New York subway map. Kyle Cooper’s Seven opening titles. These are only a few landmark projects of our profession… But when it comes to web sites, I can’t think of a single www that could be comparable — in gravitas, praise, or memorability — as any of the few projects I just mentioned. Could this be?

My Response:

While you talk about the IBM logo, and the Dylan poster, as landmark, they are landmark to designers. The average American doesn’t relate. Within the design field you are talking about what designers find influential to the future of that particular medium.

What we have in web-design is individual’s who inspire approaches. People like Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyer, Khoi Vinh, and Dave Shea, just to name a few. Champions of CSS, standards, and grids in web design. These guys may not all be designers but they give designers the inspiration to create future design just as Paul Rand inspired by his work.

Speaking of Dave Shea what about The CSS Zen Garden, arguably one of the most influential websites in modern web-design. While the website has over a hundred versions, (not all beautiful) the impact on showing the possibilities of CSS have made a definite impact on the medium.

Think about how design is evolving. Design is now created to change. Michael Bierut’s Saks Fifth Avenue Identity has hundreds of variations. The NYC logo (for good or for bad) was created as a container for future iterations, and so on…

(side note: while I am a big Kyle Cooper fan, when I think landmark and film titles I think Saul Bass.)

Follow Up 1:

>(Armin stated that:) This discussion is about designers, not the average American.

My Response:

Yes, I understand, I was just using this point to set up the rest of my statement, that the concept of landmark design in today’s design world is evolving, in print and on the web, we need to broaden the scope a bit.

Follow Up 2:

>Other member’s sited Threadless as a possible landmark website.
>Someone else posed the question, who are influential web designers?

My Response:

Threadless is a store and a very niche market. I don’t know how much impact it has on the design community at large.

The question is really what constitutes as landmark print design in the last 7 years?

As far as influential web designers. I already made a case for Khoi Vinh, although Armin discounted already. But what about his beautiful A Brief Message.

I think there is a strong case for the guys at Coudal, I mean Armin himself is taking part in their Layer Tennis tomorrow.

What about the guys at A List Apart. Who not only educate, but lead by beautiful simplistic example.

All of these guys are all stripping down the web to it’s essentials and working within the confines of the medium, using system fonts, CSS and images, all while teaching the community at large how to follow suit. Try that print designers.

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