This article argues that from film to fashion and architecture to advertising, creative fields have become dominated and defined by convention and cliché. Distinctiveness has died. In every field we look at, we find that everything looks the same.
Welcome to the age of average.
Like so many body forms converge on the shape of the crab, under the selective pressures of capitalism and efficiency, so too do buildings become the same, cars become the same, movies become the same.
When independent actors are all operating under the same selective pressures — aerodynamics and regulations and manufacturing constraints for cars, zoning and building codes for architecture, attracting a certain demographic for AirBnBs — convergence seems nearly assured. When a formula works, whether that’s the design of a coffee shop or the makeup techniques for a particular look, there’s little incentive to expand beyond that assurance of at least mediocrity.
Familiarity is another selective pressure. It’s as if there are a handful of uber-“brand” aesthetics that companies merely need to hitch themselves to — mimicking existing successful design becomes a shortcut to tie that business into the entire ecosystem marketing to that demographic. From that perspective, standing out could be bad.