Material Design

Material Design is a set of guidelines from Google for forthcoming interfaces. It’s excellent work, beautiful and rigorously thought through. I especially love the solutions for animation, which feel fresh and a true enhancement to interactions rather than an effect. I do such design for work, and I aspire to this level of practice.

But calling it a design approach is confusing to me. Because networked applications and devices are such a prominent part of our culture, it seems that design work like this (or iOS 7, etc.) should be some sort of expression of the very best that design can offer, or some kind of philosophy. Certainly the language that the (extremely talented) designers use to describe Material Design (and giving it an ambitious title) seems to express that.

I think this work expresses a love of high-impact plastic, a feeling of safety, utility, and fun in the same vein as a set of Legos, but with a very finite set of possibilities. In other words, a great place to start, (fun and interesting, just like Skeuomophism or “flat design” used to be) but silly to think of as the goal for design in general.

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