2023 Design Trends
Yes, it’s that time again! Another new year is upon us and as retrospectives turn to future-tripping, we’re once again looking at what the collective design hive mind has in store for us for the next year. 2022 proved to be an exciting and turbulent year with many twists and turns; wars, groundbreaking scientific discoveries, the death of a monarch, billionaires’ billionaire-ing, a nationwide workers movement, and the highest inflation in over 40 years. And through all of it, artists still managed to find that ever-elusive creative spark and leave their mark on the world.
We looked at how all these factors have and will continue to affect the creative industry in this roundup of 10 of our favorite current and forecasted design trends (in no particular order).
Long has flat minimalist design reigned supreme in the world of design. The icons were linear, the colors clean and unobtrusive, and the shadows unspeakable. But with the new wave of readily accessible programs available, the barrier to entry for introducing 3D design into your designer toolkit is lower than ever. With software like Blender, Cinema 4D, and even Figma throwing their hats in the proverbial ring, we expect to see a lot more designers experimenting with bringing their work to the next dimension in the coming year.
Love it or hate it, TikTok has remained an ever-present force in most, if not all, of our lives. Whether you personally spend your lunch breaks scrolling through the endless reels of Wednesday dances, cooking hacks, and dance challenges; just have a partner who insists on texting you all their favorite bits; or are just forced to read about the many attempts to ban it in the US, TikTok is everywhere. Not only has it forced all its competitor to begin imitating the popular reels format, it has also made video an everyday part of the online experience for millions. For this reason, we look to see designers incorporating video and motion graphics everywhere from UI/UX (like Apple Music’s animated album covers) to social media.
Remember that nice, clean minimalist design that we talked about? Well get ready for another slap in the face for the Millennial designer’s favorite safety blanket. (What? Blankets can have faces!) Largely driven by the individualistic, experimental, punk-like aura of Generation Z, Maximalism hits the scene as a clear rejection of the standardization of design and intentionally throws out the rules in favor of bold expression. The relatively recent introduction of variable fonts has helped fuel this trend allowing designers to mix and match font weights more seamlessly to create these bold, “More is More” designs.
Maybe it’s the launch of the James Webb Telescope and the truly breathtaking photographs of our universe it’s already delivered, maybe it’s all of the incredible technology being developed all over the world, maybe it’s the ice shelf collapse in East Antarctica and the imminent threat of climate change that has us looking toward the future thinking more about the future and our place in the world. Whatever the case, the retrospective of the last few years is over and we’re now finding ourselves planted firmly in the future and we expect this to heavily influence, not only the look and feel, but the function in design going forward as the demand for innovative technology, AR/VR and the Metaverse continue to drive this trend.
Far from a new trend, gradients have been a persistent trend in design over the last few years and this year we expend to see them continue to evolve and find a new form of dominance. Moving away from the “barely there” gradients of today we look to see a much bolder implementation of gradients in the forefront as design elements with more prominent colors, harsher gradations, and abstract implementation.
I hesitate to even refer to this as a trend as I fear that minimizes such an important evolution of design and advertising; the last few years have seen a real focus on inclusion and diversity, and we expect this trend will only continue to become more dominant. Far from the lip service of the once a year ‘Pride Month’ post of old brands will be expected to walk the walk when it comes to diversity and inclusion of all spectrums whether considering sex, race, gender, neurodivergence, or accessibility for those with disabilities.
As we find ourselves finally beginning to fully emerge from the cocoon of horror that was the global pandemic, brands and consumers alike will be looking to regain a sense of human connection any way they can. We look for the next year to bring about a renewed focus on prominent, authentic photography.
As a designer who entered the field in the late 2000’s, I can distinctly remember the shift in mindset I had to undergo when I realized my dreams of designing solely for print and creating tangible, ink-covered, tactile masterpieces was unlikely to come true and my future career would be dominated by digital design. Once again, we find ourselves on the verge of a new paradigm shift from the digital we know today towards fully immersive experiences. The challenge of the modern designer will become how to incorporate these new experiential touchpoints into the fully realized consumer journey and create a fully immersive and cohesive experience from front to back.
AI Generated Art
In what might be the only truly new and unique trend, 2022 saw a surge in AI-Generated art as programs like DALL-E and Midjourney opened the doors to anyone with computer access to start generating art from just a simple string of keywords. Although the computer-generated work is largely panned in the artistic community as uninspired, lazy, and tantamount to theft, these copyright concerns have proved unable to stop the influx of eerie pseudo-art from flooding the internet. How will this visual aesthetic leave its mark on the design community and how might brands incorporate these methodologies into their own work? We look forward to seeing the evolution.
A variety of conditions make the environment ripe for a Bauhaus revival: economic collapse, rampant housing crisis, unchecked plutocracy, worker inequality, and a disturbing rise in far-right political ideologies make the conditions of today eerily like those of the founding of the original Bauhaus school in 1919. We look to see a renewed usage of the abstract, low fuss, geometric design qualities of the original movement with a likely evolution of the original style to compliment the modern visual language of 2023.