As designers, sometimes we forget about our audience. We set out to build things that are trendy or technically interesting instead of powerful and meaningful. We can spend hours tweaking the aesthetic only to populate our work with meaningless placeholder content.
Brutalism has set out to challenge what’s trendy. It ignores conventional grids, opting instead for an ugly mess of layered content. It denies users of common patterns for navigation and leaves them on their own to discover how to access other pages (or not). We find these designs shocking and obscure because they challenge the part of our craft that we seem to identify most with: our trends and conventions.
Ironically, brutalist design has itself become a trend and it won’t be long before it can’t support its own satirical weight. Until then we should learn what we can from it.
Here’s what brutalism gets right: