I recently posted a comment (which might very appropriately be termed my most recent rant) on Clifton Labrum's newly-and-beautifully-redesigned site, the premise of which has been irking me ever since. The conversation went something like this:
Mark 09/14/06 11:54 AM Hey Veerle called, she wants her site back.
SaraJoy 09/14/06 12:56 PM Mark-- I submit that any good design will--and should--present characteristics of the great designs that [should have] informed and inspired it. Any designer who hasn't taken a page from Polish posters, any architect who hasn't pulled lines from the great cathedrals, any musician who hasn't heard Bob Dylan is missing out--and is likely not half as good as they think they are.
We are influenced by everything we encounter...hopefully, as designers, we choose to be influenced by [and therefore, to some degree, imitate] greatness.
I will agree the new look bears similarities to Veerle's. But I think your comment was off the mark. I'll likely recieve death threats for suggesting this, but while there's much to love about Veerle's design; the typography, the illustrations, the content, I have always found the layout a bit jumbled and crowded...something you certainly don't find here.
If anything, Clifton pulled the best aspects of any number of sites (feel free to find other examples among the creme of web design that resemble this in some respect) and amalgamated them into a clean, intriguing look and feel uniquely his. I still say well done!
In the Renniassance (I hate spelling that word and don't have time to look it up--of course in the time it took to type this little tangent, I probably could have looked it up and you'd have no idea I can't spell Renniassance--oh well) Throughout history, great masters have taken apprentices for the express purpose of passing on the tricks and techniques they had developed over years of exploration and experience. They apparently believed in what my mother (nope, no hyperlink here, she's barely figured out email) calls "generational improvement"--the ability and duty of the rising generation to gather the best of what their forebears have to offer and improve upon it.
As designers today, most of us aren't apprenticed to Milton Glaser or Paula Sher or Cameron Moll. [feel free to speak up if you happen to have enjoyed their exclusive tutelage since before you could hold a mouse] However, the unprecedented accessibility we enjoy allows us, in a sense, to be "apprenticed" to all of them! We can read magazines, we can visit galleries, we can dissect websites, we can't help but see hundreds of advertisements a day.
Anyone who, in the name of originality or otherwise, refuses to acknowledge and profit by this influence...is a fool.