2016 has been a strange old year, with major political upheavals, a slew of very sad losses (David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, the list goes on), and of course, the devastating news that Toblerone bars have lost about half of their chocolatey triangles. While it’s not our place to comment on these seismic shifts in current affairs, celebrity, and confectionary, what we can provide commentary on are the most read (and often most contentious) stories on Eye on Design this year—plus some of our favorite design projects of 2016.

At the beginning of 2016, we examined the key to predicting what the year would hold for design, and we went into way more depth than that hardy perennial of design chit-chat, Pantone’s color of the year (FYI, for 2017 it’s “Greenery”).

Michal Sloboda and Ondřej Zita, who run the Trend List blog, revealed that “trends in general seem to be based around ‘two main principles that constantly clash.’ On the one hand, there’s the very calculated and organized graphic design that’s often laid out on grid, and on the other hand there’s design that’s more expressive and anarchic. The last few years have been dominated by the grid, so we think 2016 will definitely be more punk.”

So was it? We’re not so sure. While London was certainly entrenched in celebrating 40 years of punk with numerous shows, events, and talks, the wider graphic design world seemed to shy away from the “traditional,” Jamie Reid-style cut ’n’ paste, monarchy-hating vibes. We’ve unpacked that in another piece over here.

The top 10 most read stories…

Lance Wyman, 1968 Mexico Olympics logo

1. On a Scale from 1-100, Milton Glaser Rates Every Single Olympic Logo Design in History
Ahead of the Rio Olympic Games this year, we asked veritable design legend Milton Glaser to rate every single Olympic logo design from the 1920s to the present day. Comments ranged from “
the typography is peculiar and unpleasant” to “the spirit of the Olympics is totally absent” to “perhaps more appropriate for a manufacturer of paper towels. Milton, you’re the best. Logo designers, look and learn.

Pentagram, Mastercard
Pentagram, Mastercard

2. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut Geeks Out Over the Color Theory Behind the New Mastercard Logo

In July, Pentagram rebranded Mastercard to a predictably mixed response. As for Bierut, he was “highly conscious that the thing we’re talking about is just two circles and two primary colors.” Oh Michael, isn’t it always though?

Mirko Ilic, Justice Liberty

3. This is What Happens When You Rip Off a Designer

Don’t go messing with intellectual property. Here’s why, from a few designers who’ve been ripped off: Anthony Burrill, Mirko Ilic, and Milton Glaser. 

UI sketches courtesy of Anton & Irene

4. What’s the Difference Between UX + UI Design?

Still puzzled? Don’t be! Simply revisit this post, where we explain what a UX designer does, what a UI designer does differently, and why we need both.

Type Quiz chalk ampersand

5. What’s the Difference Between a Font and a Typeface? Take AIGA’s Ultimate Typography Quiz

If you’re stuck for something to do over the holiday break, you could do worse than flexing your font knowhow with our big fat lettering quiz, which it seemed a lot of you were digging around the start of this year.

George Douglas, Creativity and Depression illustration

6. The Links Between Creativity and Depression

We spoke to designers at various stages in their careers about how mental health issues affect their work, and how the design industry can best approach the issues surrounding depression.

Penelope Gazin, enamel pin designs

7. Are Enamel Pins the New Business Cards for Emerging Designers?

A look at why the fun trend led by the likes of illustrators Penelope Gazin and Tuesday Bassen is actually a savvy business move.


8. What are “Flexible Visual Identities” + Will They Replace Logo-centric Design?

TwoPoints is a studio that specializes in something called Flexible Visual Identities (FVI) for both arts and corporate clients, and which boldly asserts that “the static logo… has proved insufficient in modern visual communication.”

Triboro, Cafe Standard

9. 3 Lessons in Branding Every Student of Design Should Know

Triboro design studio on why “the logo is not the identity” and why the best design teaching sets the right mix of restrictions and freedom.

Rave culture and graphic design

If “unbridled creativity is what brought out the energetic feeling of rave,” it’s little surprise that the movement left an indelible and very, very bright mark on graphic design style since.

The top 5 most read op-eds…

What Rave Culture is Teaching Modern Graphic Designers

Why You Should Judge a Design Studio by Its Logo

Finally, Sophisticated Tampon Packaging Design for Women Sick of Feminine Clichés

Do Templates Make Good Design Accessible to All or Diminish the Role of the Designer?

The New Wave of Anti-design Magazines Will Question Your Sense of Taste—and That’s a Good Thing

The top 5 most read illustration stories…

Marketing Melancholy: Sanrio’s Newest Character is a Sad Egg

5 Great Tarot Designs by Contemporary Creatives

What Does it Take to Run a Small Press Comics Empire?

Why Every Illustrator Should Form a Collective Right Now

Amazingly, There’s No Paper Involved in These Paper-cut Illustrations

The top 5 most read typography stories…

The World’s Most Expensive-looking Font Might Surprise You

A Typeface Designed to Revive the Endangered Cherokee Language

3 Typography Experts Weigh in on the Recent Hand-Lettering Boom

Why Default Fonts Lead to Default Work for Everyone

Can a Typeface be More Useful Than a Single Static Logo?

Editors’ picks: our top 10 favorite images from Eye on Design this year…

Dancing Type from Munich’s Exciting Young Design Studio, Moby Digg

Leta Sobierajski and Wade Jeffrees Trippy Graphics for Le Turtle Restaurant

A Fresh Lesson in Political Branding From Food Not Bombs Designer Jena Myung

Robert Beatty, Floodgate Companion spread

The Joy of Robert Beatty’s Pre-digital Graphic Art

Karl Nawrot, experimental typography

A Graphic Designer Who Thinks Like an Architect

Anna Haifischs Comics Show Artists as Shy + Lonely Beer Drinkers

Anna Haifisch, The Artist
Krysztof Iwanski, Kino

A New Poster Movement

Yann le Bec, Dog Days

Yann Le Becs Illustrations Spike the Ugly and Everyday with Film Noir Suspense

Jonny Negron, Terraformers Poster for Mould Map

When Mould Map Decided its Next Issue Should be an Exhibition Instead

Grilli Type, Eesti

A Colorful Cold War-era Kid’s Book Inspired a Grilli Type Typeface

Cheers! To plenty more in 2017, dear readers!