If we could have your attention, just for one second, we’d like to ask you to take a breath, quiet your mind, and note what first pops into your head when you hear the word “distraction.”
Most of our initial reactions (unsurprisingly) involved technology: We’re distracted by screens, social media, and accidental internet rabbit holes. We’re interrupted by ads we don’t want to see, deluged by articles to read, and pulled away by the constant pinging of push notifications, status updates, and unread emails. This is where we started for the “Distraction” issue, but like the beginning of every time-swallowing, path-splintering rabbit hole, it’s not where we ended up.
Eye on Design issue #05 is now on sale. Grab your copy here.
One of the darker sides of distraction is undoubtedly how companies profit from it. When our attention is commodified, designing new ways to divert and capture it is lucrative business. No one does this better than porn sites, and in one of our main features we explore how they pioneered live chat, video streaming, credit card processing, pop-ups, web promos, and other UI elements we now consider commonplace on the G-rated web, too.
This frenzied, frenetic mode of absorbing information is also reflected in new styles of design. As one of the educators who participated in our roundtable discussion about Instagram and design school put it, “You see this collaging and appropriation of styles, and mashup of visual styles together, because that’s how we consume content now.” Add to that a dark sense of humor, a reverence for ’90s rave graphics, and an irreverent tendency toward “antidesign,” and you’ve got “acid graphics,” a contemporary design trend that we decided to take a long, fun, and heady look at in this issue.
But distraction isn’t all doom and gloom and data mining. In fact, a bit of escapism can be a very, very good thing. Lots of the designers you’ll meet in this issue have something they spend their time on—DJing, making jewelry—that pulls them away from design and brings them back to it more fulfilled and inspired. Two of our longform features center on women interaction designers in the 1980s and ’90s, who used nascent video games and experimental webzines in ways that would change their industries forever. And one writer’s ode to Flair, the beloved, opulent, short-lived magazine in the ’50s, celebrates the sumptuous, over-the-top pleasures of maximalism in print.
With so many things vying for your attention, we hope this issue will be the kind of distraction that inspires slow reads, a shift in perspective, and puts a beautiful, physical object in your hands, designed with wit, criticality, and immoderation by Ann Richter and Pia Christmann of Studio Pandan.
Love from around the world,