Stay Current with These 2022 Design Trends that Dazzle

Published: January 14, 2022

Hey friends! We’re back again like—well, like clockwork, actually—to share with you the latest and greatest design trends, typography trends, and web design trends for 2022. We’ve done this enough years in a row to know that there’s a good chance these things will become prevalent in some capacity in the new year. We’ve also done this enough times to know that some might fizzle out or be replaced mid-year by something that reacts to these trends. Whatever the case, we’re not psychics (probably), but reading the creative atmosphere doesn’t require any special powers outside of observation and critical thinking.

First we’re going to show you what’s coming this year in the world of graphic design. In the next two entries we’ll cover typography trends and web design trends.

Without further ado, here’s 2022.

90s CDs on a wall

1. Back to the ‘90s

What better way to head into a new year than by jumping way back to the ‘90s (we know, writing “way back” about the ‘90s made me feel old, too)? Well, apparently some people think so, since it has been trending since 2020. This is the third year of the retro craze, and it’s not slowing. This year, though, we’re incorporating grunge more than in previous years. Dingier tones, less perfect surfaces, and a loudness in graphical representation are on the rise once again. It’s time to embrace the pastel palette and the grunge factor, and maybe play with the dichotomy of those things.

classic Ukiyo-e print

2. Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print

This famous Japanese woodblock printing method may look familiar to anyone who has spent any time at all with Japanese culture. It was fairly ubiquitous as a historical art style, and it has made the jump to all kinds of other media. Here, it serves as a shorthand for a return to flat forms and a feeling of printed textiles that could be made with color blocking and line work. Look for this influence with or without the Japanese flair in the coming year.

colorful, organic doodles

3. Organic, Meandering Doodle

Here’s another trend that’s been rising for years. Organic shapes have really made a comeback in the ‘20s, and we continue this trend in 2022, accompanying curvy logos and natural shapes for natural products with some backgrounds and design features in the same style. Start with some curvy lines, add some wavy detailing, and keep that free form flowing to compose relaxing elements wherever you look. It’s a style that’s sure to make people say, “Ahhhhh.” No, not like a scream. Like a sigh.

weird escapism doodle

4. Escapism

Somewhat tied to the aforementioned meandering doodles, our desire for escaping the everyday grind is seeping into design. Look for intricately illustrated fantasy worlds, the weird and the quirky, and the rising jelly cityscapes, winding roads, forests full of bizarre creatures, and the kinds of things you might otherwise only see in your dreams. Anything goes when all you want to do is take a little break from the ordinary, and in today’s doom-scrolling world, people will follow you down the rabbit hole as far as you want to take them. Just be sure to not lose the message in all the wonder.

anti-design text layout

5. Anti-design

This one sort of explains itself. You know the conventions of design that are established, usable, and easy to look at? Throw all of that away. The anti-design trend is breaking all the rules, prioritizing how something looks over how usable it is, making things that are not immediately intuitive, and pushing statements over comfort. We’re not sure how this pushback against established guidelines is going to last, but often when something like this happens, new conventions and interesting ideas come from it.

neon sign say it louder

6. Intricate Maximalism

Think big! But it’s not just about being the opposite of minimalism. It’s loud colors, big text and images, and lots and lots of everything. That’s where the intricacy comes in. Things are going to get a little crowded. If you’re seeing lots of little details writ large, primary colors, and huge statement pieces that don’t apologize for shouting, you’re seeing intricate maximalism at work.

2D 3D mashup

7. 2D and 3D Mashup

The last several years have been heavy on 3D elements in design. Think accurately rendered cubes, floating elements that look real, and characters with depth. Also on the rise in the last several years is strong line work, seen in doodles, borders, and giving emphasis to elements in a design. It’s only natural that these things are mashing together in 2022 to make something new. This also includes the recent trend toward papercraft looks, giving a 2D medium a 3D treatment. Mash them up, everyone! It’s the way of the future.

dish of candy in pastel colors

8. Candy Colors

Remember the pastels and soft colors of the Y2K era? Well, looks like the late ‘90s and early ‘00s are coming back, hopefully without the world-frightening computer bug that turned out to be almost nothing at all. Your sweet tooth is your guide when it comes to picking colors in your designs now. Embrace the chewy, sour, crunchy, dusty, and sweet (good thing we have a candy machine at the office, since this is making us seriously snacky). Yes, all of these tasty tones are included in the moment, and if you embrace them (just don’t lick the screen or page), your designs will be all the sweeter for it.

art deco theater

9. Art Deco

Dark colors. Bold lines. Angles. It’s so fancy, it’s a wonder it has taken this long to come back. That’s right, designers, we’re taking the wayback machine to the 1930s, the decade of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, the repeal of prohibition, and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” So pour yourself a Manhattan or a Shirley Temple (since she was voted the most popular movie star during the decade) and get fancy, because, at least for now, Art Deco is back!

welcome door mat

10. Inclusion

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, there’s a rising emphasis on inclusion. Successful brands let consumers know that they’re for everyone. No matter their race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or religion, everyone should be welcomed. We’re in the age of designs with flawless accessibility, alt text on images, pronouns in bios, and a message that uplifts and welcomes rather than excludes. Make sure your designs and messaging are taking those things into account before they are released into the world, which will be quick to call you out on your failings in this regard. It only takes one big whoops that could have been nipped in the bud with a short consultation to sink years of brand trust. Be smart. Be thorough. And most importantly, be inclusive.

Trends on Trends on Trends

We’ve thrown a lot at you here, and no brand or designer can do it all. Nor should they. In fact, it might be impossible to embrace all of these things. We’re just here to tell you what’s likely coming, so you can spot it when you see it, and if one of these trends makes sense for you, don’t be afraid to get on board! Just don’t ride it til the wheels fall off. We can guess that in four or five years, some of these things will be lame again. But that’s the nature of trends! And if you’re not reassessing and refreshing your brand every few years, maybe now is the time to send us a message. We wish you health and happiness in 2022! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for our entries on typography trends of 2022 and web design trends of 2022. Happy new year!