Graphic design trends give designers the chance to rest every year, and given the challenges last year, the trends in 2021 can offer everyone a much-needed breath of fresh air. While the past design trends were driven by the promise of a better year and start of a new decade, revolving around sci-fi and futuristic tech, 2021 is about putting people first. Based on customer surveys, graphic design in 2021 is all about turning the plain into something special.
Here are the top graphic design trends in 2021.
Culture and design are naturally connected as design creates culture while culture shapes values—determining the future. In essence, to strive for better days, visualizing it can massively help. Social unrest regarding racism has captured national or even global attention, where most brands and businesses need to take notice and reevaluate where they stand. These socially conscious designs gained traction throughout the past year, poising for even more significant impacts in 2021.
Diversity and Imperfection
Under the growing trend of socially-conscious designs aligning with broader cultural pushes to make all media types more diverse, inclusive, asserting everyone’s different identities and flaws. For instance, DesignStudio applies all these approaches in their intentionally ‘imperfect’ rebranding for Getsafe.
Authentic representation is all about promoting genuineness and authenticity. For instance, Nike’s iconic ad that featured Colin Kaepernick exemplified the push for ‘authentic designs,’ including diverse perspectives and voices. After the nationwide protests of George Floyd and Breonna Tayor’s killings last year, the brand unveiled the quote, ‘For once, don’t do it.’ This movement subverts the brand’s iconic tagline.
In 2021, you’ll likely see the same corporations pushing the boundaries, creating authentic and meaningful content over ‘superficial’ designs.
Even the tiniest things matter in graphic design, from the colored bars on a wavy banner for unifying a nation to a shape as simple as a bright red octagon saving lives at busy intersections. Traditionally, these symbols have been all about universality. Whether coming in the forms of conveying warnings or determining the cause under shared iconography, the power of these classic ‘symbols’ lies in their capability of transcending language.
Graphic designers are bringing this power at the start of a new decade, creating aspirational icons of growth and empowerment. They do these by implementing recognizable power symbols like Gods, the stars, and gorgeous stoic lions. Additionally, some are modernizing classic visual motifs like Eliza Osmo’s medieval crest.
People had a rough time in 2021, but the planet didn’t fare much better. With the sudden free time everyone had, where most spent time indoors, people had plenty of time to cultivate awareness about climate change and other environmental problems. Together with the nearly universal cabin fever experiences after almost a year filled with lockdowns and staying at home, these issues have made sustainability a massive trend in graphic design.
As more people are conscious about waste and their environmental footprint more than ever before, brands producing physical goods have become pressured about these demands. That’s why this 2021, you can expect to see more packaging designs emphasizing sustainability, whether via natural iconography, neutral hues, and eco-conscious goods.
In the past, people perceived the 21st century as the era of flying cars, robot maids, and ray guns. Although we don’t have those inventions just yet, retro-futurism as a visual style has prevailed due to its bold imagination and optimistic outlook. In the world of graphic design, this eagerness finds its expression through an emphasis on bright hues, computer-inspired typography, and curves.
Think of fishbowl space helmets to domes and arches. Rather than bringing people back to an ‘idealized past,’ this trend promises to bring individuals back to the days yet to come.
As more individuals found themselves spending more time at home facing unfamiliar stressors, color preferences have significantly shifted. Nowadays, more people are attracted to hues proven to reduce stress and anxiety while promoting a sense of calmness and ease. That’s why the most prominent color trend in the graphic design world in 2021 is organic and natural shades.
These hues provide a calming vibe, welcoming respite for individuals staring at walls and screens all day—every day. However, it’s best to move past typical browns and greens and understand the effects of oranges and teals, evoking warmth and comfort.
The latest graphic design trends give digital designers unique opportunities to create art that can improve any brand’s appeal, grab customers’ attention, and unlock more profitable results. Those mentioned are just some of the ones raking over the beginning of the new decade.