by Justin Difazzio
Every new year brings a new energy, especially in the world of design. This year we’re seeing a lot of deeper dives into trends that have been emerging in the past few years, but there are still some surprises in the mix. It will be interesting to see how long the influence of pop culture and AI last this year, considering the deluge of influences and new discoveries that are bound to take form over the next 12 months. Despite the volatile nature of trends, here are our predictions for what will stick around in 2024.
This is no shocker if you’ve been looking at design in the last three years. This iteration of less-is-more-but-make-it-shout will feature an emphasis on typography. Look for bold printing, statements that stand out, and little else to distract from what’s important. Limited color palettes are the way to do this effectively, and gradients are in, in, IN!
On a similar wavelength, we’re going to see more design that shows its underpinnings. Think styles like hard cyberpunk, utilitarianism, and anti-design. We’re getting grids and visible borders, an abandoning of illusion and formality over a sort of this-object-is-exactly-what-it-looks-like vibe. This has been on the rise in design, and we’re curious where the limits of this style lie.
At the complete other end of the spectrum as minimalism and raw design, we have the more-is-obviously-more energy of maximalism. Does it fit into the design? Cram it in there. More colors. More patterns. More impactful text. It’s a lot to look at, but, done creatively, it can be a joy that rewards people more and more the longer they look. So go wild on this one. Maybe incorporate a few other trends in your maximalism, too!
Past years have seen handwriting and personal touches take center stage, and the natural extension of that is doodles. Boy howdy, you’re going to see doodles in the new year. They’re a great way to add some playfulness to your brand and some organic whimsy to your designs. Whether full on illustrations in a doodle style or just a cute little graphic or sticker added as flourish to a photo, that personal touch will carry some weight this year.
Diversity and Inclusion
Another way brands are reaching out in their designs to try to make people feel comfortable with them is by doubling down on diversity and inclusion. It’s amazing to see how many brands are changing their messaging to show people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and identities, even in the last three years. Expect more of that, since the brands standing out now in the field of diversity are standing out for the wrong reasons: a lack of diversity.
We’ve seen some of this lately, but with the rise of diversity and inclusion, some brands are making photography their focus. A shorthand way to tell people they belong is to feature photos of people who look like them, and that’s just what’s happening. Also, companies that want to make an impact are playing with their photos, doodling on them, enhancing them with stickers, and making them the focus of some truly expressive collages, as we’ve mentioned before. And with the advent of AI making its impact (don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon), real photography can send a message about where your company stands on the matter.
We thought the 3D fad was going away, and to be honest, it largely has, but not in the world of design! This year brands are leaning even harder into the world of puffy, chunky, and deep. What’s new on this front? The biggest thing we’re seeing consistently is a reeded glass effect that gives depth to anything put behind it. And alongside that sort of altering of reality, look for product shots where the real meets the surreal. Think lipstick floating in a jungle or a computer monitor showing Y2K era graphics exploding from a cityscape. Just be sure if you’re using this that you’re not losing the message in the medium.
Speaking of Y2K era graphics, here’s where they come in. The last couple years were all about 90s retro. Well, if that made you feel old, buckle up. Because the newest retro wave is Y2K. Look for turn-of-the-century (I know, it sounds weird to us, too) elements, pixels, and dot display graphics to dominate. Of course,not to be overshadowed, the classic colors and curves of the ‘70s and the fluorescents of the ‘80s are along for the ride, too.
Generative Art and Anti-AI Backlash
It can’t be overstated how much AI is going to influence design in the coming year, and, if we’re honest, probably into the far-flung future. Whether you’re into generative AI getting involved in the world of design or you think computers should buzz off and let real designers do the creative work, the fact that AI will bring huge changes to the design world can’t be ignored. You’re already seeing a lot of trial and error with this relatively new tech, and there’s so much more where that came from. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the next year, as the capabilities of AI are changing every day.
Finally, a trend worth playing with! Riding on the success of Barbie, the Greta Gerwig flick from 2023, brands are unboxing their childhood dreams and letting their pink flag fly! We may not all be enrobing ourselves in her signature hue, but pink is not going out of fashion any time soon. See how you can incorporate it in subtle ways, or embrace your inner arch-footed feminine icon and cover your whole mojo-dojo-casa-house (just see the movie) in it. Either way, expect to see pink, pink, and more pink this year.
Phew! What a ride. There are more trends rising and falling than we could ever cover here, but we think these are the big ones to consider using in your designs in 2024. Stay tuned for the second installment in our annual trend coverage: Typographical Trends of 2024. See you there!