MIT recently launched a tech investment initiative called The Engine. I’m really digging this site, from the concept itself, to the URL, to the Swiss typography, to the subtle background animations, to the background graphics/illustrations when you hover over an investment area. Someone in a Designer News thread pointed out that the illustrator is Vasjen Katro whose Instagram account is wonderful.
In that same thread Mike Wilson replied to someone’s suggestion that The Engine website is part of the Brutalist trend:
The 'Brutalism' thing in a nutshell:
- Designers coming out of art schools like ECAL, Gerrit Reitveld, etc. in the mid-2000s start bringing some of their experimental work into the small print magazine movement (mostly in Europe at this point) after print starts getting less scrutinised in favor of digital. See: https://www.creativereview.co.uk/the-new-ugly/
- Hits NYC from Europe (to be fair people in scenes like RISD were always woke) when guys in publishing like Richard Turley bring the aesthetic into the mainstream on publications on Bloomberg Businessweek
- More traditional (not product focused) design agencies/studios bring the aesthetic to the web after the fall of skeumorphism and the rise of web type
- SF Tech bros who hang out on Dribbble finally take notice when these sites get posted on SiteInspire, steal the term "brutalism" to describe it since it doesn't look like a stripe landing page.
- ‘Brutalism' becomes a catch-all term for any website that contains an aesthetic nod to a design movement that didn't happen on Dribbble
- Myself and others find this amusing and post snarky/snob-ish finger-wagging comments on DN
While, yes, snarky, I do appreciate the brief history. The first I saw this style was in 2004 from David Reinfurt (whose work I mentioned in an earlier post.) of O-R-G and later Dexter Sinister. He designed the book for an exhibition within the Eero Saarinen-designed Terminal 5 at JFK. I designed and built the exhibition’s website, which is still online 13 years later, though it does require Flash. So it goes…
In 2004, I thought nothing of adding auto-playing audio to a website and so sprinkled sound snippets of airplanes idling and taking off, and a short tribute to Brian Eno at the end of the loop.