Melanie Evert, Art Director at The Blue Room shares insights into what graphic design trends we can expect this year.
We live in extraordinary times. With the growing accessibility of smart phones and internet availability, visual literacy among consumers is on the rise. This poses an exciting challenge for branding specialists. Consumers are becoming fluent in visual communication, with discerning tastes in design. The onus rests on designers to stay ahead of the branding curve, and this includes design trend forecasts.
Artwork will feature strong typographical focal points, with type even replacing images. Extra bold typefaces take minimalism, now considered more of a genre than a trend, to the next level. Serifs are back in a big way, featuring high contrast serif typefaces with extremely varying weights. This is seen as a backlash against the overuse of sans serif typefaces, to the point where typography became too clinical.
Other typography trends that will continue, are handcrafted, quirky or messy typefaces. For brands that require a crafted, personalised style, scripts will still be very popular, as well as vintage handcrafted typefaces. Very minimalistic sans serif typefaces will also still feature. These typography trends are ongoing, but will evolve in new directions. Be on the lookout for the rise of outlined typefaces as well.
Welcome to the dawn of colourful minimalism – with vivid colours, high contrasts and large spectrums of colour, anything is possible. Vibrant colour gradients are set to become even more popular, indicating a move towards colours that are engaging and dynamic.
For the low-key brands, neutral whites and earthy tones are pushed even further. The tendency towards motion in colour appears in subdued brands as well – iridescent colours and dreamy colour transitions will offer the fluency of gradients, while using softer elegant colours.
The Pantone Colour of the Year for 2019, Living Coral, is sure to appear in all forms of design as well.
Photography continues to move away from traditional stock imagery, to natural photographs that are authentic, warm and genuine. While photography remains professional, the tone of a photograph could seem as though it was taken by an individual on a phone. It should retain creative and technical quality, while becoming personalised and non-commercial. This ties in with the rise of visual literacy and discernment in consumers – informed consumers want an influence in what they see and do not want to feel as though they are being marketed to.
Personalised and custom artwork is seen on other platforms as well, with the enormous boom in custom made illustrations. Recent research claims that custom made illustrations convert as much as seven times higher than stock photography. An interesting subsection of illustration to look out for is isometric illustrations, in which dimension plays a key role. This dimensional appeal is visible in the 3D typography and design trends as well.
Traditional design balance and hierarchies are eschewed in favour of energy and tension. This leads to asymmetrical and eclectic layouts. These designs are effective, as they are unexpected – viewers anticipate grids in artwork, so designs that break away from convention warrant a second look and increased attention. This could mean compositions that are cut up, broken, or seemingly chaotic. However, the placement of objects would be anything but random to achieve this style. This is also seen in open layout styles, where minimal structure, unique alignment and plenty of white space is used, and objects are free to flow off the page.
Composition In Motion
From responsive logos to GIFs to animations to 3D typography, motion in design is becoming progressively popular and achievable. Logos are created to be flexible and adaptable in terms of varying colours and layouts. Responsive logos for digital platforms are becoming a must. The use of sophisticated GIFS, animations and videos are on the increase, especially as internet availability rises. Not to be left behind, print design aims to create the appearance of motion, with eclectic and asymmetrical designs and fluid colours. On a digital scale, augmented reality quite literally brings a new dimension to design, and this exciting platform is becoming more accessible.
Ahead of the Curb
These trends could leave one itching to create fresh artwork in the newest of styles. However, the main consideration should always be whether a trend is relevant to a brand. Does it convey the tone and message that the brand wants to reflect? Would the style appeal to the target group and what they expect to see from the brand? The trend should serve the brand communication; not the other way around. Another consideration is also the possible longevity of a trend. Trends should be applied when it will revitalise a brand, not when it will date the brand too quickly.
Another point to consider, is that when a brand is not in line with a particular trend or seems to conflict with it, it does not necessarily mean that the brand is wrong or outdated. The design style in general could still be contemporary and relevant, without incorporating specific current trends.
Studying the different movements within design offers exciting possibilities, but it is important to find an underlying drive for these different trends. Before aiming to stay on top of trends, it is imperative to analyse the consumer behaviour that has led to the popularity of these trends.
Looking at these trends, one could argue that design seems to become increasingly engaging and interactive, and that graphic design has become more sensory than ever before. Design is no longer a flat, two-dimensional space; sensory experiences, interaction and movement is echoed in all aspects of graphic design. Branding is a two-way street, and rather than trends, consumer engagement is what will set brands apart. We look forward to seeing how these trends play out in the year to come.
Written by Melanie Evert: Art Director, The Blue Room
Click here to view our Graphic Design and Branding services.