The conflicting opinions on Corporate Memphis

The original intent of Alegria, or “Corporate Memphis” was to be universally accessible, visually appealing, and relatable. (Photos: Shutterstock)
The original intent of Alegria, or “Corporate Memphis” was to be universally accessible, visually appealing, and relatable. (Photos: Shutterstock)
There has been an uprising in an art style that overtook various well-known popular websites like Google, Duolingo, and Facebook. The art style is called corporate art, also known as “Corporate Memphis”, and was developed for Facebook in 2017 by the design company Buck, created by artist Xoana Herrera. While the art style has an official name, Facebook adopted the name Alegria, as its alias, which means “joy” in Spanish.اضافة اعلان

The original intent of Alegria was to be universally accessible, visually appealing, and relatable. A variety of skin tones, a streamlined, simplified design, motion-filled animations, and occasionally exaggerated anatomical characteristics are used to show off people’s diversity.

The artwork in this vector-style art is characterized by flat colors, little to no shading, and an overabundance of geometric shapes. The purpose of Corporate Memphis is to “draw your attention as you scroll around the website’s user interface”, Mohammad Souqi, a senior UI/UX designer working for EON Dental, remarks.

“It triggers associations in your mind that will eventually cause you to think, ‘Oh! That must be Facebook,’ when you see this artwork utilized elsewhere.”

As a result, the revenue of the aforementioned website rises thanks to the deliberate yet subtle psychological games employed by numerous Big Tech corporations.

Yet, the attempt somewhat failed, as viewers began to complain that the unlikeable characters were becoming more grating to watch than entertaining. In recent years, criticism has gained even more traction.

“I have hated this style for as long as I can remember,” a commentator said under the YouTube video “Why do ‘Corporate Art Styles’ feel fake?” by Solar Sands, which garnered over 4 million views.

“This art style has to be the most off-putting, malign style ever invented,” chimed another, “it feels like it drains the soul out of everything it depicts.”

To be inclusive, the characters created have blue skin and beady eyes that no one can identify with, leaving onlookers feeling uneasy. This led to many individuals feeling that this artistic movement was inauthentic, which ironically mirrors what people complained about the original Memphis Group in the 1980s.

Similar to the present backlash against Alegria, this group’s post-modern work was derided and despised by many for having dystopian elements.

‘Too colorful, it hurts the eyes and spirit.’
What sets the characters in this art style apart is the use of gangly arms and noodle-like legs, all of which give off an unearthly charm that confuses and puts off the viewer. Its minimalism was criticized by many parents as well, who proclaimed that “their kid can draw better than whatever those things are”.

In keeping with its name, Alegria, many individuals believe the art form to be somewhat “obnoxiously joyful”, relating to its supposed childish nature. The sum of all of this has been described as “insulting” to adults, who feel like they have been infantilized by the use of this style.

“The animations have even previously caused visual fatigue to many of its viewers, which was interesting to learn about,” says Gregor, a user in a graphic-design discussion forum.

“Our company, of course, has worked to reduce the motion in which these animations move, after receiving these complaints. But not many companies are willing to change or adapt like that.”

Despite the large amount of criticism, there are still people who like it, and are in favor of it being used.

Big Tech companies have been known to severely underpay their workers, according to research done by Paysa on salary databases. Especially when it comes to art, many of these companies may undervalue their artists and illustrators despite their great efforts to produce high-quality images.

In contrast, Corporate Memphis has art that is easily editable, detachable, removable, and changeable with a click of a button. Considering that most of those images do not overlap, it is easier to rearrange them to represent a specific message.

“Not only is it easier to fumble with, but it is easily reproducible by different artists as it does not require a personal art style or quirk,” said Al-Wadeya Jasmin, a Belarusian Printing Centre graphic designer.

“It is hard to maintain a specific brand when the illustrators all have different styles. This makes everyone’s job easier. This style is based on simple, geometric shapes, anyone is capable of editing those.”

While many people may dislike Corporate Memphis, or heavily criticize its existence, it serves a purpose in the Big Tech world, whether because of its lower costs or the easiness with which it can be used.

Souqi said: “These illustrations can make the app or website more user-friendly by explaining complex ideas in simple visuals,” which is what tech companies have been on the lookout for in the past decade.

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