Last updated on September 26, 2023
What Brutalism is and why it’s here to stay
The term “brutalism” was firstly used by the architecture historian Reyner Banham and origins from the french “béton brut”, which means “exposed concrete” and highlights how brutalist buildings exposed their structural elements such as pillars and pipes which therefore also become decorative features. It was particularly popular starting from the mid 50s and and believe it or not we are going back to the post world war era when designers like Bob Noorda and Massimo Vignelli applied it to industrial and graphic design. We surely have already had some excellent examples of how this architectural trend found application also in web design in the past few years but in 2023 it will become increasingly popular, mostly thanks to the trailblazers who brought it back.
It is the case of those who designed the website and image book for the Mercato Centrale an extremely popular food court in the heart of Milano.
What we experience while navigating the website (and also while visiting the store) is a miscellaneous mix of fonts and handwritten words, images and drawings. The purpose of such a choice is to somehow confuse the users, make them wonder about its usability, create a state of astonishment whilst appearing kind of messy.
Another example of how brutalism finds application in web design and why it will become even more popular in the upcoming months is the website of the Fondazione Prada.
The site has two main characteristics: on the one hand, it makes use of a typical brutalism technique, i.e. using very large characters in contrast to the rest of the text used on the site. Secondly, the brutalist choice reflects the architecture of the fondazione. The renovation project of the buildings that house the collections of the foundation commissioned by Miuccia Prada was entrusted to Rem Koolhaas who enhanced the brutalist aspects of the buildings that previously housed a distillery.
One last example of how brutalism became such a powerful way to communicate especially in web design is the website of the Marcelo Buron’s fashion house. An extremely easy and user friendly experience that makes a strong use of lines and tables.
The demonstration of why brutalism will be widely used in 2023 are the websites of events which just took place or will be happening next year.
The role played by this specific tecnique has been widely studied by graphic designers the world over. It is so interesting that in 2014 creative director Pascal Deville launched a website to collect “under one roof” the websites which applied brutalism as their main technique.
Brutalist Websites becomes then an inspiring tool for those who wish to create something able to get out from the crowd and be remembered. Isn’t this the purpose of design after all?
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