Bell-bottoms. Pet rocks. Oversized Glasses. It’s been said that “art imitates life, imitates art.” For me, the interesting thing about design trends is that they seem to cycle between clean, simple lines and a more layered appearance depending on changes in art, music and computer technology. It’s a constant cycle, but it never rotates back to where it was completely.
As computers came on the scene in the late 1980s, it became easier to achieve a very clean straight line in your illustration or design work. But in design, just as with science, when one trend becomes popular, the equal and opposite trend becomes the reaction. As the capabilities of photo manipulation programs such as Photoshop increased, the ability to easily produce multi-layered images became more popular. So, the trend moved away from simple to more complex, dynamic visuals that included the combination of multi-layer photos and illustrations, sometimes resulting in a “grungier” look.
As artists, we are constantly looking at that cycle to find the next trend, but more importantly, looking for ways to utilize all aspects of design to communicate to the audience for our clients. While I have noticed the contrast between simple and layered styles, I asked the other LF art directors to tell me what their current favorite design trend is.
Flat design is known for it’s simple, minimalistic style, which is devoid of glossy effects, gradients, and bevels. This trend relies on fundamental shapes and colors to convey dimension. I personally like this style because with the dot com boom and the advancement of Photoshop, it seemed as if there were heavily stylized graphics with bevels and glosses showing up everywhere. There is a time and place for such graphic considerations, but I’ve always believed in the mantra “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
I love the comeback of hand lettering and calligraphy. It brings me back to my childhood, playing with my mom’s calligraphy set. It’s fun, playful and gives each design a custom feel that can’t easily be replicated.
Illustration is making a popular return in advertising and design. Companies such as Bruegger’s Bagels, Oreo, McDonalds, and Whole Foods have all recently launched illustration-based campaigns. In my opinion, illustration conveys a sense of authenticity, creativity, and personality that other styles cannot achieve. What I find most intriguing about the return of this tactile style is how it can be translated onto digital platforms though video and websites to keep up with modern technology.
What trends are you seeing in design? Share with us in the comments!