The Secrets Of Grunge Design

Advertisement

Shiny and glossy design elements are now officially outdated. Just like retro is becoming trendy again, grungy look appears to rapidly gain on popularity. And there is a damn good reason behind it. In our everyday environment we’re unlikely to find ideal geometric forms or pretty shadow effects as they are manifested by glorious Web 2.0-designs. The reality is different, and Web is definitely not an exception here.

Therefore designers often tend to explore the less ideal and more realistic design solutions which reflect the world we’re living in more accurately and precisely. Result: such elements give the design a more realistic, genuine look, a look one would actually expect in real life.

In such grunge designs dirty stains, torn images, “broken” icons and creased pieces of paper are as popular as hand-drawn elements1 and dirty textures. The main purpose of hand-drawn elements lies in their ability to convey a personality and an individual note. And dirty textures are often used as background images for navigation menus, photos and overall layouts. Usually these elements are regular objects from our daily life, replicated in their real form without any glossy effects.

Grunge Style ≠ Dirty Look

Few weeks ago we’ve already provided you with grungy fonts, textures, icons and brushes2. Since most designers were confused about the purpose of these “dirty”, “graffiti-like”, “urban” elements, it’s important to understand that grunge designs don’t necessarily have a dirty look.

In fact, grungy layouts don’t necessarily consist only of grungy design elements. The latter can as well support the design, giving it a more realistic look without making it look overcrowded or dirty. Take a look at Bart-Jan Verhoef’s blog3 presented below. Although the design has a number of irregular elements such hand-drawn doodles and dirty background image, it doesn’t feel dirty at all — in fact, the design is rather subtle, clean, elegant and in any case unique.

Screenshot4
Although the design has a number of irregular elements such hand-drawn doodles and dirty background image, it doesn’t feel dirty.

Sometimes it’s enough to add just few irregular (or dirty) elements to achieve a more realistic look. In online-shops and corporate projects it simply doesn’t work otherwise. In such cases small details influence the mood and define the perception of the users. Sometimes it’s enough to simply replace the background image of the layout with a dirty texture. This is exactly what Jeremy Zevin5 has done. Without a dirty texture his weblog would have a typical Web 2.0-design.

Screenshot6
Without a dirty texture used as a background image this weblog would have a typical Web 2.0-design.

Grunge Color Palette

In most cases grunge designs use subdued, dirty and dull colors. Brown, beige, grey and black are dominating colors. Vibrant shades of vivid colors are being replaced with more natural and subtle colors. The color palette below presents colors which are often used when it comes to grunge designs. The colors have been extracted from the screenshots listed below.

       
       
       
       

For instance, Satsu7 uses rather subtle colors; the design, however, doesn’t look boring. Hand-drawn elements support the overall design and give it an artistic touch.

Screenshot8

However, grunge designs can as well contain more vivid colors; however, in order to fit to the design, they are less striking and more realistic. Dark shades of green, blue and read are usual. Shop Moss9 and David Hellmann’s blog10 are examples of a vivid grunge design.

Screenshot11

Screenshot12

Trends In Grunge Design

  • Dirty textures and background images are almost essential in every grunge design.

    Screenshot

  • irregular lines and frames

    Screenshot

  • yellowed scotch tape

    Screenshot

  • paper- and photo clips, needles and various pins

    Screenshot

  • coffee rings, spilled out liquids and dirty stains

    Screenshot

  • torn paper and dirty edges

    Screenshot

  • dog-ears

    Screenshot

  • hand-written elements

    Screenshot

Joe Grisham’s site13 is exemplary for the elements listed above. Multiple grunge elements in use…

Screenshot14

…and EXP.TYPO15 is rather a collage than web design.

Screenshot16

The Grunge Gallery

red9ine

Screenshot17

Mindtwitch

Screenshot18

Pain is Good – don’t take it seriously, please.

Screenshot19

Olly Hite

Screenshot20

Webdesigner Ro

Screenshot21

Burn the Fields – for music-related web-sites grunge look fits almost perfectly.

Screenshot22

Team Green

Screenshot23

Scouting for Girls

Screenshot24

Adventure Trekking

Screenshot25

dtamas

Screenshot26

grantmx/designs

Screenshot27

Shaker Designs

Screenshot28

Lake Crackenback

Screenshot29

Moustache Me

Screenshot30

Lataka

Screenshot31

Design Sponge

Screenshot32

Extreme-Designer Thomas Schostok from Germany

Screenshot33

Darklight

Screenshot34

nYq

Screenshot35

CSS Addict

Screenshot36

Trozo Gallery

Screenshot37

Liquidesign

Screenshot38

loworks. Flash in use.

Screenshot39

Dot Comedy

Screenshot40

DesignBStudios

Screenshot41

CSS Rockstars

Screenshot42

a j miles

Screenshot43

Further Resources

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/03/hand-drawing-style-in-modern-web-design/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/29/grunge-style-in-modern-web-design/
  3. 3 http://www.subdued.net/
  4. 4 http://www.subdued.net/
  5. 5 http://www.jeremyzevin.com/
  6. 6 http://www.jeremyzevin.com/
  7. 7 http://www.satsu.co.uk/
  8. 8 http://www.satsu.co.uk/
  9. 9 http://www.shopmoss.com/
  10. 10 http://www.davidhellmann.com/
  11. 11 http://www.shopmoss.com/
  12. 12 http://www.davidhellmann.com/
  13. 13 http://www.notyouraveragejoe.com/
  14. 14 http://www.notyouraveragejoe.com/
  15. 15 http://www.exptypo.com/
  16. 16 http://www.exptypo.com/
  17. 17 http://www.red9ine.com/
  18. 18 http://www.mindtwitch.com/
  19. 19 http://www.painisgood.com/
  20. 20 http://www.ollyhite.com/
  21. 21 http://www.webdesigner.ro/
  22. 22 http://www.burnthefields.com/
  23. 23 http://www.teamgreenonline.com
  24. 24 http://www.scoutingforgirls.co.uk/
  25. 25 http://www.adventuretrekking.com/
  26. 26 http://www.dtamas.dynamo.hu/
  27. 27 http://www.grantmx.com/
  28. 28 http://www.shakerdesigns.com/
  29. 29 http://www.lakecrackenback.com.au/
  30. 30 http://moustacheme.com/
  31. 31 http://www.lataka.com/
  32. 32 http://www.designspongeonline.com/
  33. 33 http://ths.nu
  34. 34 http://www.darklightart.com/
  35. 35 http://nyqdesign.com/
  36. 36 http://www.cssaddict.com/
  37. 37 http://www.introzo.com/
  38. 38 http://www.gotaqua.com/
  39. 39 https://www.loworks-store.org/
  40. 40 http://www.dotcomedy.com/
  41. 41 http://www.designbstudios.com/
  42. 42 http://cssrockstars.com/
  43. 43 http://www.ajmiles.net/
  44. 44 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/29/grunge-style-in-modern-web-design/
  45. 45 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/01/02/where-can-i-find-textures-and-background-images/
  46. 46 http://designmeltdown.com/chapters/DripsSpraySplater/Part4.aspx
  47. 47 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/03/hand-drawing-style-in-modern-web-design
  48. 48 http://luxa.org/tutorial_making_a_grungy_business_card.php

↑ Back to topShare on Twitter

Co-Founder of Smashing Magazine. Former writer, web designer, freelancer and webworker. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories.

Advertising
  1. 1

    I still like it clean :)
    Grunge feels like going back in time, like 2002 or 2003

    0
  2. 2

    I agree. I think grunge should stay on the band websites, cleaner is modern, give it time and grunge will be back in, it always comes crawling back.

    0
  3. 3

    Thomas van Zuijlen

    March 11, 2008 5:26 am

    Hmmm… I noticed before that you seem to be perceiving a trend towards grunge-ish design, but as to the commenters above, to me the grunge style seems like much more of a throwback than a step forward. I doubt the grunge style is as viable a design option as the clean 2.0-style simply because of the lack of site types it might be applied to. The strength of the 2.0-style (most definitely in its more nuanced, sophisticated incarnations) is that it can be applied successfully to smaller and larger (e.g. corporate) cases alike. To me, the examples from the collection in this article actually reflect the relatively narrow focus of grunge.

    0
  4. 4

    Good article, plenty of information here, and eye-candy of course! I myself am a designer, trying to get used to the new styles now.

    0
  5. 5

    Great round up! Love a bit o’ grunge me… Although, rather like some nice class C drugs out there I reserve this style for my own personal use and try not to push it on my usual clients.

    A single tiny element of grunge can spice up a plain, clean corporate site no end. Add too much though and your heading for trouble. Those corporate types will even warn you that a bit of the auld grunge design can lead to harder stuff!!!

    0
  6. 6

    Use whatever style fits the site you are working on. Using a style simply because it is trendy won’t produce a good looking website.

    Just imagine corporate sites such as apple or adobe in grunge … horrible, right?

    0
  7. 7

    Mhm I think too, that the grunge style isn’t that new. I like it but normally I wouldn’t use it for companies, they like it as clean as possible.

    0
  8. 8

    Surprised not to see Elliot Jay Stocks’ website in the list.

    0
  9. 9

    The only reason a style looks like it’s part of an age to you is because you are too deeply entrenched into a piece of that age to see what’s happening in the design world clearly. Step out. Stop being a tool of the times and recognize that style is relative to the mood you’re trying to convey, as Arnar has pointed out.

    Kids these days. Sigh. No sense of the conceptual.

    0
  10. 10

    I came across Bart-Jan Verhoef’s site the other day, very nice. It struck me that I’ve never seen a font as clean as Din used in a grungy/distressed context before. I think it works really well in this instance

    0
  11. 11

    I also have same opinion as zombiebr, Grunge style is out dated. In the present condition we can see people are giving more importance to simple, Smooth color schemes with some vector arts or nature illustrations..

    0
  12. 12

    I still like clean designs – I also wasn’t such s fan of pure 2.0-Designs. I think there is a special solution for every client. Of course there are new trends every year but good design will be long-lasting and memorable.

    But anyway this article comes very handy for an actual project .. :)
    Thanks for the good quality of content!

    0
  13. 13

    Great collection… beautiful… how to define my style? imaginepaolo

    0
  14. 14

    Thank you for quantifying “grunge”, it really cleared things up for me. I had been subconsciously equating it to dirty, but, like you say, it’s really not. With regards to “grunge” being outdated, it seems to be the word is outdated, not the styles of the samples shown here. The samples shown are very modern, they combine “clean” elements with grungy elements. Granted, it wouldn’t make sense for many sites to have any grungy elements (gotta keep the audience in mind, right?), but in some instances this style poignantly expresses the overall tone/mood/feeling of a site and its “brand”. It’s great to see the backlash against the shiny look of a few years ago, but these designs borrowed some of the other “2.0” elements that made sense (clean layout, whitespace, big type.)

    0
  15. 15

    It’s interesting to think that web design may have already reached the end of its history. I’ve spent a couple of years wondering, “where do we go next”, and if the answer is “back to where we’ve been”, that leaves us in a unique place in the history of design; we’re the first design discipline to reach a creative plateau after just 14 years.

    The reason for this is obvious, though. Past advertising mediums — print and video, for instance — had prohibitively expensive cost-of-admission, and were used chiefly for commercial interests. A corporation would spend a mint of a print campaign back in the day, and they wanted their money’s worth. Convention and proven techniques ruled the day, leading to very slow stylistic evolution. But with the web, you had tens of thousands of people with no startup costs and no accountability doing everything at once.

    Has it all been done? It’s looking that way right now.

    In a way, it’s a good thing (for designers working commercially, at least), because we have a finished “toolkit”, so to speak. There’s an established style that will suit any client, which lets us do our jobs much more effectively. But it makes you wonder what the future of web design as an art form will look like.

    Maybe increasingly cheap bandwidth and increasingly higher resolutions will give us something new — I hope so, anyway. But right now, I really don’t know where we go from here.

    0
  16. 16

    Grunge is a nice form of design, but it inreases the loading time of a site enormously ~> much pictures instead of web 2.0-gradients (1px * 150px for example)

    >> Just imagine corporate sites such as apple or adobe in grunge … horrible, right?
    Yeah.. that would be horrible :)

    0
  17. 17

    I tend to agree with the other commenters. Grunge style is played out. There’s not much there left to explore. In my opinion, I feel that the trend in web design will shift more towards warm, humanist design and incorporate natural textures (paper, wood, cork, etc.) into a cleaner and more elegant look than is capable with grunge style. There certainly is a place for grunge design; it just won’t be as ubiquitous as the whole glossy “web 2.0″ thing was.
    There are a lot of exciting things happening with typography and print design now. I’m almost bold enough to say that the whole 20th Century modernism / postmodernism pendulum swing is coming to a halt, to allow a new style to emerge. There’s certainly an Arts & Crafts revival happening in the art world now, and it’s bound to have implications on other disciplines as well.

    0
  18. 18

    Bart-Jan Verhoef

    March 11, 2008 7:25 am

    Obviously, the grunge look is not always a solution, just as the ‘web 2.0′ (or any other visual style) isn’t. It all depends on the specific project.

    Personally, I love the grunge style. Not just to look at, but also to create. It’s so much fun to create half a design (or just some details) with your bare hands, instead of doing everyting digitally!

    0
  19. 19

    Great List. Tend to design more on the clean side, but just been inspired to get a little dirty.

    0
  20. 20

    You’ve missed http://www.e-knjige.net/ :-)

    0
  21. 21

    I’m glad that everyone else agrees. I really dislike Grunge websites, some of them pull it off but for the most part, they are harder to navigate and put design before content.

    0
  22. 22

    Hey, great article! Thanks for the mention.

    I agree that the recent grunge resurgence is due in part to a backlash against the web2.0 style. Will it become as pervasive as 2.0 seems to be? Most likely not as it does have a narrower scope of sites that can utilize it effectively.

    To me, grungy and realistic details are classic design elements. A classic never goes out of style if used appropriately!

    0
  23. 23

    wow i like it, grunge! more stylish and unique.

    0
  24. 24

    The next time I hear web 2.0 I am going to jump off a bridge.

    0
  25. 25

    It’s funny to see posts with a certain type of design, draw such negative criticisms.
    I’ll have to agree with Ryan, grungy equates realism much of the time.
    If you don’t like realism, you must suck at Photoshop, sorry about your luck.
    Some of the detailed textures in these designs do create larger file sizes, that’s to be expected.
    Great artists don’t paint with the cost of the paint in mind.

    thanks for another inspiring list!
    Rock On!

    0
  26. 26

    WEB 2.0!!!

    0
  27. 27

    Amazing!
    Is this web 2.1?

    Guys you rock!

    0
  28. 28

    The grunge typeface used in the “Burn The Fields” band website is WAY WAY WAY TOO OVERUSED. It needs to never see the light of day again. It has been abused and misused to the point that it needs retiring. I believe it is either “Downcome” or “Dirty Ego” from misprintedtype. No offense to misprintedtype. The typeface could be used correctly, but I have not seen yet a good application of the font, other than the way it is shown on misprintedtype’s website.

    0
  29. 29

    Also, adding to my previous comment, in regards to the “Web 2.0″ misnomer and other styles…
    There is no design trend or style that anyone needs to follow, even though this article seems to hint at that.

    Design is not about trends although they do occur. Design is about using the resources that work best for the project at hand. Do not use glossy shiny orbs if your project does not dictate their use. The same goes for “grunge” designs.

    Sticking to trends is the mark of a lazy designer. Don’t settle for less just because its easier to use grunge for everything. Please only use styles where they are needed. It is crazy to see the design world change. Now with automated styles and horrible typefaces that clients have somehow been convinced to let designers use, nearly anyone thinks they are a designer.

    Just because you choose a different typeface than Times New Roman for your Word document, does not make you a designer.
    The current state of design needs a huge overhaul.

    0
  30. 30

    web 2.0 web 2.0 web 2.0!!
    ! Woot! Go ajax!

    nOOOOO

    Well it seems that the Radial is now overused. Great, thanx, I loved that shape. Oh look at me I’m a logo that needs a radial to focus on my icon. Wooooo

    What’s next. The fashion design theme, or is it the jittery coffee tea filled designer? And how do Coders promote themselves on the web?

    0
  31. 31

    I have to disagree … i don’t see the large businesses going grunge outside of companies selling fashion. the web 2.0 look is not so much a style trned to me as it is being smarter about communication.

    but i’ve been wrong before.

    0
  32. 32

    I agree, grunge is for bands, although I would use it for an old fashion car repair place (dunno the exact word in english, bear with me!), I think one of the sites was for that.

    0
  33. 33

    The “grunge” design treatment has been a small part of the web since the mid 90’s. It always “appears to be gaining popularity,” but it never really does. lol!

    Nice collection of sites though!!

    0
  34. 34

    Congrats, you’ve started a nice discussion here. Seems to be an emotional topic. Interesting…
    Thanks, Christine

    0
  35. 35

    While there are some interesting design elements in some of the examples, I find that most of it adds up to a lot of eye clutter. But then again, it all depends on your target audience. I prefer a cleaner design.

    0
  36. 36

    tzGrungz ..eh a couple of dodgy, sweeping statements there Picasso!

    0
  37. 37

    It’s a good idea to ask yourself what you want to express rather than what is “in” or “out.”

    What is web design turning into a Fashion statement? I don’t want to think of myself as following trends, I would like to think of my profession as making the right decisions. Trends are good to watch, but not to live by.

    Also, If it works for the right client then use it.

    Their will always be someone saying “Oh that’s so out” If it works for what I’m trying to say, conveys a message that needs to be conveyed then it’s a good choice.

    Every style has it’s place in this world.

    0
  38. 38

    It may be hip.. it may be coool.. but I don’t want to look down a toilet bowl when I’m trying to book a flight online. Each design to it’s own place – Some places may be more ‘trendy’ than others but gritty realism will never sell that much stuff!

    0
  39. 39

    Hi there!, nice work, i have the link of a “grungie” website from a band,

    http://ort.laurentlazard.com/andru/flia_gomez (spanish link)

    0
  40. 40

    Personally i dont like the grunge style, or the way that other designers treat it.

    Grunge is good for the print but for the web it suck. Users need information, not the beauty (or the dirt in this style).

    Grunge is based on to much grafic and a lack of white space. On all the example sites above the text is hard to read and to interpret. And also i dont think that Grunge style is gaining popularity

    0
  41. 41

    You guys should consider using sites that combine minimalism and the grunge style like http://www.ziked.com

    0
  42. 42

    grunge? new trend? haha! please, wake up people!

    0
  43. 43

    I actually found the few samples of the grunge design visually stimulating.

    I admit that I found them really refreshing.

    Thanks for the information.

    0
  44. 44

    Great article, grunge works for blogs, arty sites.

    0
  45. 45

    this site has interesting header too http://stylizedweb.com/

    0
  46. 46

    Love this stuff.

    Blasphemy: I’m doing my own design just because I like to tinker. I’m striving for a Steampunk design, but see a lot of grunge ideas that I would like to incorporate.
    (If you look, do it in FF, IE is borked.)

    Fun to see what real designers are doing!

    0
  47. 47

    Bryan D. Hughes

    March 11, 2008 1:11 pm

    Great article.

    I see a lot of comments condemning designing with the trends, but I would advise that it is important to understand them even if you don’t use them. Deconstruction of trendy design can reveal clues for low-latency communication by understanding what is instantly understood.

    0
  48. 48

    Grunge is, I think, more an way to make the web look a bit more humanistic, to give it some texture and depth. Not that this can’t be accomplished in other ways. Sometimes that little big of dirtiness makes a website feel more like a real thing, rather than a bunch of boxes rendered out in different colors.

    Then again, maybe it’s because my own desk is a mess.

    0
  49. 49

    to me this whole ‘grunge’ design trend really just seems like another flavor of the overall ‘web 2.0′ one.. i mean, in terms of underlying structure, most of the designs above have the same basic breaks from old-school web design that made web 2.0 appealing in the first place: larger fonts, big bold graphics and section divisions, and simplicity in terms of informational conent.. the main difference is only when it comes to specific graphics, which end up with a more organic, distressed style. These elements, despite their ‘grunge’ label, are still VERY clean as is the end-user experience. I’m rambling, but what i guess i’m trying to say is that i really don’t feel that there is enough of a difference between ‘web 2.0′ and ‘grunge’ to start drawing lines in the sand between design trends.. they’re both part of the same trend.

    0
  50. 50

    Grunge design is great and necessary to help keep “clean” design honest. But I think it’s even more fun when the lines blur.

    0
  51. 51

    thanks soooo much!

    0
  52. 52

    Grunge is synonymous with Pearl Jam, the mid-90s and teenage angst and is therefore giving commenters angst.

    Design has definitely become more hand-tooled, tactile, and organic. Classic and formal typography, authentic textures, old-world newspaper layouts seem to be coming back in.

    Computer graphics (and all computer-based expression) has consistently moved from cold/mechanical to warm/human since the early 90s. Graphic design then was dominated by the constraints of new technology: colors, textures, and type were all simpler — constrained by slow processors, complicated color correction and printing processes, and analog camera.

    oh, and a severe lack of alpha channels.

    Early online graphics had to be simple — mostly due to poor markup and low bandwidth. Flash, rigid grids, solid colors, and a more Modern design sense became prevalent.

    Since the early 2000s, however, constraints have be lifted by better software, faster hardware, cheap bandwidth, CSS, digital cameras, etc. Designers also seem better read and are (re)exploring the trade’s roots — especially in typography. The result is that more artists are better able to recreate the complexity and authenticity of the real world — carving out a visual space that feels (sur)real.

    0
  53. 53

    Even though you posted:

    I don’t think most readers get it. What you guys are calling grunge just means adding tactile depth to a page through texture… NOT just making something dirty. This could be as simple as making the site background feel like paper, or making a font feel screen printed. I work exclusively with corporate clients, and I think a subtle texture like Design Sponge (minus the lace?) or Adventure Trekking could work for any type of company.

    Bring on the texture!

    0
  54. 54

    grunge is not back – do some homework.

    0
  55. 55

    Design is full of trends. No idea is original – it only evolves. A “grunge” site will fit a “grunge” client/company. Same goes for a clean, “Web 2.0 glossy” style towards a clean, professional company. As long as it fits within the context of what you’re trying to communicate, it’s hard to call something a “trend” or a fad.

    *Triple snap, Z-formation*

    0
  56. 56

    I love the grunge look, but I’ve never like the yellowed tape effect–always looks way to forced.

    0
  57. 57

    i lov grunge! good stuff!

    0
  58. 58

    I think grunge is good in a small site. But not in a long long page which is like Blog. I think it will also makes our eye very tired while readying on a complicated textured background.

    I still prefer simplicity.

    0
  59. 59

    not sure how you guys make it official that glossy sites are out of style….but if a client’s site doesnt fit the grunge look, it just wont work, no matter how cool it might look…

    0
  60. 60

    Accidentally I resently searched for grunge styles. So thanks to the collector!
    But in my humble opinion, isn’t it a little bit old-fashioned? Or is it retro?

    0
  61. 61

    This grunge style is one of those trends that only works if the content allows it.

    0
  62. 62

    hei, you forget to mention Matt Brett.

    0
  63. 63

    Mexico supports Smashing Magazine!

    0
  64. 64

    Great collection and article! Thanks! Very interesting!

    0
  65. 65

    Are Olly Hite’s photos for real? anyone know? If they are meant to be taken seriously then lol@Olly

    Scouting for girls site is pretty nice…

    A2daK

    0
  66. 66

    Allways using those stickers etc. is boring and cheap. It´s fantastic photoshop work, but the final result is low-effect. Sorry :) Vivat le SM

    0
  67. 67

    Great resource guys, but still Grunge designs are never used for corporate and real bushinesses.

    0
  68. 68

    I don’t like a single one of those designs… I think keeping it clean is still the way forward!

    Thanks for the article.

    0
  69. 69

    Grunge designs aren’t new or the future, but for certain sites they work. That said, as with all design, anything overused gets dated quickly, so it’s better to use specific visual styles for a given audience instead of just following fads. I’m a fan of all sorts of styles… I’d hate to box myself in.

    0
  70. 70

    While I personally tend to want to work with designs that are “clean”, there is definitely a place for grungy design, and for that matter all manner of designs. The great thing about web dev is that it is constantly in flux, what worked for everyone 6 months ago, may not work now. There are certain standards that make a site useful and useable, but whether clean or grungy, good design is good design (or conversely as I have been know to say before “Crappy knows crappy”)

    On another note, I just wanted to give a shout to Smashing for always providing amazing resources for developers.

    I have used the content here extensively to help “teach” some of the print designers I work with how to design for web. Great stuff, and because of it we just launched a new site focused on entrepreneurship and startups in New Orleans that I hope you will all check out and provide your feedback on.

    0
  71. 71

    I think Kurt Cobain would turn in his grave to hear how contrived you make grunge sound. Look, it has a cute fake paperclip – how grunge! The movement was about being raw and not conforming, and died when it became mainstream. Thanks for now providing us with the guidelines to be grunge!

    0
  72. 72

    Some very good examples of grungy design work there, but at the same time there are some examples which look like the designer is trying a little bit too hard and has given the site a grungy look and feel because someone told them or they read it was the in-thing to do.

    The grunge look and feel most certainly has it’s place and I am a fan, but at the same time I’m also a fan of very clean minimal sites, when reviewing these designs we should consider how the aesthetic of an individual piece compliments the brand and content its portraying and whether it is fitting or not, it’s this that makes a successful design rather than rather than a look and feel that fits with the current trend.

    0
  73. 73

    Grunge has it’s place, but it’s not appropriate for as many industries as clean minimalism. Having said that, I’m glad that my grungy website is considered in style again.

    0
  74. 74

    I think there’s a bit of lag occurring in regards to web design these days. A few years ago designers were going nuts over grunge but it wasn’t hitting home with certain businesses. Now I think a lot of these businesses are trying to capture a more youthful audience on the web and they’re requesting more grunge designs because of the impression that it resonates with youth.

    0
  75. 75

    grunge or clean? thats a choice, grunge style need more considerations else it will look messy , but above list are excellent insipired.

    0
  76. 76

    grunge is cool, but usage of grunge is definitely limited to non-company/organization websites.
    hope to see more entry related to clean design.

    0
  77. 77

    web design has trends, yes. but just like all art forms, some styles come ‘n go. a true timeless design will out live others… i’m still trying to find a design that’s as timeless as a black Tee ‘n a pair of jeans..

    0
  78. 78

    Leon Paternoster

    March 13, 2008 6:15 am

    The thought of geeky designers doing ‘grunge’ is amusing in itself. The idea that these are somehow more ‘naturalistic’ or ‘hand-crafted’ than, erm, other designs is equally absurd – have you tried CSSing graphics of this complexity? It’s a technical nightmare.

    Can’t we have a 1996 geocities revival? That would be more fun. And can’t graphic designers keep to print?

    0
  79. 79

    “grungy look appears to rapidly gain on popularity.”

    What are you like 60 years old? I suggest to stop looking around CSS galleries for research and explore the underground music scene if you’re looking for real grunge designs.

    0
  80. 80

    Well, “grunge-design”… Doesn’t it sound stupid? It’s nothing but kitschy artistic approach to creating visuals. What is web 2.0? Series of rules for those without any real design knowledge by which they can recycle one and the same page over and over again. Sorry, but I don’t see anything beauty full in it. People who call it grunge-design, web 2.0-design… Argh! You can only talk about style. Don’t mistake it with design because you obviously don’t know what the word means. Style and design don’t have and must not have anything in common because they are two totally opposite things. Word style can only be used in terms of art. Design isn’t art. People who put design in museums are idiots. Good design is something subtle and invisible to normal eye because it’s well made to be useful and without any ornament or style. The rest is nothing but kitsch. Kitsch!

    0
  81. 81

    And one more thing.
    “Form ever follows function.”
    “Less is more.”

    Put it in google if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

    0
  82. 82

    Is grunge simply a response to the growing interaction between web properties – where everyone seems to simply be regurgitating everything else? Is this just a visual design technique? As I look around our culture, I see amazing parallels to Dadaism. Peraps?

    0
  83. 83

    If you haven’t seen it already, the USPS has a temporary design up right now that fits perfectly in with this topic. It looks great.

    http://www.usps.com/

    0
  84. 84

    Disagree on the first paragraph. Grunge isn’t popular because the web is no exeption to the harsh reality we live in ( even though that’d be quite funny) but rather because it’s the good old vintage look (as mentioned), we keep coming back to. If it had anything to do with the “reality”-explanation this would be the last trend in webdesign history… but it isn’t… it’s just ppl coming back to something old coz they can’t make up new stuff!!!
    Well do i need to mention i prefer the clean designs???

    0
  85. 85

    I Disagree with the first sentence too, I think the glossy and shiny style still have more room to be explored. Grunge style arising again so fast, to me, appears more like just a breath / pause, because since web 2.0 style starts, everybody thrown in, deep and fast. Perhaps it`s a sign showing that this main style (glossy-shiny w2.0) starts to be revised and, maybe, go in another way / improvement.

    I like grunge style, but I think that if the designer work rules, every style can have pretty good highlights to be showed.

    0
  86. 86

    You’re sadly mistaken. There is NO Web 2.0 design.

    We might as well call these Grunge 2.0

    These looks great depending on who is beholding.

    0
  87. 87

    Grunge is simply too slow. I know every designer want to show of sometimes but as webapps developer i suggest to get a grip with reality. try to optimise grungy layout for bandwidth efficiency. You have to remember that when site loads >10-20s you are loosing visitors and thats the way it is…

    0
  88. 88

    So, most the kids who were into grunge are in their peek earning years, and suddenly we’re seeing a re-emergence of that style in view-seeking web pages. I don’t think this should be seen as an indicator of web design’s future other than its tendency to follow demands of the market.

    0
  89. 89

    We have always been a fan. I love greasy, filthy web sites.

    0
  90. 90

    grunge is cool, but usage of grunge is definitely limited to non-company/organization websites.
    hope to see more entry related to clean design.

    0
  91. 91

    I love grunge design, but I do not agree that cleaner, slicker design is dead. Why limit art/visual expression in such a way??? One of the defining characteristics of a truly good artist is his/her ability to create in different styles. Especially in graphic design, the ability to respond to the needs and tastes of a client is paramount, but does not mean we can’t end with a great design regardless of style!

    0
  92. 92

    You know what? this article is absolutely a more comprehensive writings from what I’ve done in my blog :p
    Good job!

    0
  93. 93

    I loved each and every of these designs… I think its good when its tough, even better when its toughest

    Thanks for the article.

    0
  94. 94

    Wow. I’m surprised to see so many of you with reservations. I found these designs really fresh and exciting. Not for Microsoft or IBM, of course – but perfect for me or the corner coffee shop.

    0
  95. 95

    grunge is cool, but usage of grunge is definitely limited to non-company/organization websites.

    0
  96. 96

    WOW, those grunge sites are tight tho – when done well it’s a bonus!

    That said, grunge is definitely not rated E for everyone like web 2.0’s mom. It’s definitely a horses for courses world out there and if built properly they load as quickly and perform as well as any other design.

    I think the upside is that they really do have a lot of character and a very strong sense of identity and are a great fusion of art + programming.

    0
  97. 97

    Grunge is cool but not proffesional. If you have a big company website you can`t use this style.

    0
  98. 98
  99. 99

    I thought that most of the sites showcased here were very pleasant looking and well thought out and well put together except for one. I had the unfortunate situation of coming upon the “Extreme-Designer Thomas Schostok from Germany” page through StumbleUpon (just as I got to this page) and I felt disgusted. I think the page is just ugly. Some of the elements are very artistic, but it is just put together very slapdash, unorganized and I feel like my eyes were burning when I was forced to look at it until StumbleUpon was kind enough to show me another page.

    0
  100. 100

    Grunge design is great and necessary to help keep “clean” design honest. But I think it’s even more fun when the lines blur.

    0
  101. 101

    I’ve used what I suppose you would call a sort of grungy style on my latest portfolio site, its more based around my interest in Graffiti culture and street art though olliekav.com

    -1
  102. 102

    Ollie, love that look mate

    0
  103. 103

    Apple did use grunge in a few of its iPod commercials, which I thought personally were beautiful, and professionally didn’t break any sort of visual indicator that it was Apple. I think that grunge as a design “element” is very powerful. especially when people are usually beat over the head with HORRIBLE websites. To see such flourishes in grunge style is oddly refreshing, which is why I think it is coming back.

    0
  104. 104

    “Grunge is cool but not proffesional. If you have a big company website you can`t use this style.”

    OH MAN… -_- u are absolutely wrong… DESIGN=OPEN MIND, THE DESIGN works or NOT works man… regardless of what is…

    0
  105. 105

    i love the texture and dirty wrongness of grungey design. i understand that it should be used in varying degrees for different things, because just a touch can go a long way.

    i think if you won’t even consider any grunge elements in your design, than you’re limiting yourself.

    0
  106. 106

    Grunge has never been out, it’s the most creative style out there! Making an appealing grunge site is more difficult than a clean site, from a designer point of view! The web 2.0 style makes me sick, it will evolve to web 3.0, web 4.0,… How square can you be?
    I like clean designs, I’m working on one right now, but next month I will be working on a grungy site, just be creative and don’t follow the masses!

    -1
  107. 107

    I agree with Hori. It just depends on the project which style to use.

    -1
  108. 108

    thank you

    -2
  109. 109

    thank you

    -2
  110. 110

    Racunovodski servis

    October 1, 2008 3:18 am

    Nice collection!

    -2
  111. 111

    For the record photocomma.com

    -2
  112. 112

    Just like Hori said its about being creative. Its also about having flexible design skills and being open to ideas. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to design every project with grunge. There’s a style for every design at the right place and at the right time.

    -2
  113. 113

    Boğaz Tekne Turu

    October 14, 2008 4:44 am

    wery nice

    -1
  114. 114

    god these are fucking rubbish

    -1
  115. 115

    …much pictures instead of web 2.0-gradients (1px * 150px for example)

    Argh!! Never use an image that’s only 1px wide – it’s a huge performance hit for browsers*. You know when sometimes you come across a page that won’t scroll properly (really jerky/low refresh rate)? If it’s not ‘too many’ instances of Flash, check the background image – more than likely it’s a tiled 1×1 image.

    If you’re using a GIF, you can go up to about 200px wide with a negligible increase in filesize due to the type of compression GIF uses. That’ll be 200 times fewer repetitions for the browser to deal with – more than 2 orders of magnitude.

    (*IIRC because of the way they store repeated images in memory – each repeat consumes more memory than just the pixels it represents.)

    PS for SM: Are threaded comments on the agenda at all? ;)

    0
  116. 116

    Keyer Çelik A.Ş.

    1993’den beri Çıpa Marka Şerit Testere Üretici Firma Tel:0212 664 22 00

    -1
  117. 117

    Most of you would like to design web 2.0 because it loads faster than grungish website, flash websites. Well web designing hasn’t reached its history yet, who knows after several years who would have to consider internet speed?

    Technology improves every year or maybe every second. When the time comes that internet connection is as fast as browsing your local folders would you think large scale companies would want to have those “1px x 150px repeating images” over a full flash website? I guess not.

    -1
  118. 118

    I can’t help it, I just love grunge

    -1
  119. 119

    Grunge is a great design, although it should probably not be used in corporate websites, as it gives a more casual feel to the whole site. So, yes, probably better for personal websites. Unless of course, you design grunge artwork, and your site promotes it. Then, I think, grunge is a great design and it should be used. I prefer working with cleaner cut designs myself, but adding a bit of grunge does sometimes, if used right, break the monotony.

    -1
  120. 120
    -2
  121. 121

    I like dirty textures and playing with background images.

    -1
  122. 122

    If great design has ever touched upon trend, it is that it unintentionally sets trends for those designers who are yet to learn what great design is. A great designer designs for the product (or whatever you’re designing for), understands the project, the message that is to be communicated and if he or she adopts a style it is because that style is appropriate to the concept.

    You’ll fancy a trend today and switch your preference to another tomorrow. Don’t follow what you think are trends, let the messages come to life and be what they are, not what you want them to be.

    -1
  123. 123

    Karl Francisco Fernandes

    February 22, 2009 11:06 pm

    Another great post… I especially liked nyq and Darklight… Smashing stuff this…

    -2
  124. 124

    The best is Trozo Gallery. Good color and style.

    -2
  125. 125

    Aj miles is a good design. It can be applied to both sides as well as business cards. Thanks for the idea.

    -2
  126. 126

    Hm.. I see one like website in grunge style. But it was not personal page or club/music site. It is was social network in Russia. You can see, it is interesting. Russian social network

    -1
  127. 127

    A very nice and useful article. I like new textures – Grunge Is Cool !!!

    -1
  128. 128

    Great article, gave me lots of inspiration for my own web designs. I think grunge is something that works with some content and not with others. Defiantly a step forward in web design though; I love seeing sites with interesting illustrations and textures not just a whole lot of cast-from-the-same-mould, über white and shinny stuff.

    -1
  129. 129

    is make you crazy but great

    -1
  130. 130

    Great overview! See the following site for a mega-drop-down navigation in grunge-design. Looks nice at the cost of big images with png-opacity.

    -1
  131. 131

    Grunge is a really nice styling to go with. But in the new avatar of advertising where design styling of marketing collateral’s are dictated by brand positioning and character I doubt it will work.

    -1
  132. 132

    Bethany Vanderputten

    December 18, 2009 9:05 am

    I agree with your article… I get tired of seeing slick designs with no ‘weight’ or basis in the real world. The internet should have the same visual noise as the real world. Grunge also is a great way to express emotion or mood, if used right. I enjoy using textural effects in my art for this same effect.

    -1
  133. 133

    Virtually every site featured on this page is either down for “redesign” or defunct or a spam site. Says a lot for this design style, does it not?

    -1
  134. 135

    I myself enjoy Grunge!, it depends what you call grunge, as the article says not any dirty look website is grunge, the true grunge style which is the point of the writer is actually the ART. sometimes somewhere it needs vivid colors somewhere subdued colors. by grunge style one can express himself. I dont say the future of webdesign is grunge or not, but artistic and subtle creativity is always refreshing.

    -1
  135. 136

    my first site (stranichko.org.ua) in grunge style. I’m from Ukraine

    -1
  136. 137

    Do you consider green-lotus-trekking site as grunge design design?

    -1
  137. 138

    I’m planning to creat another wordpress theme in the grunge style. This gives me many inspration. Awesome!

    -1
  138. 139

    I like Grunge Design specially if we keep it balanced and know how and how much to use it. thank you for this great article.

    -1

↑ Back to top