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From the Design Desk: Design Trends for 2021

Flat Color versus Tactile Texture, Abstract vs Geometric, and Colors for Hope and Social Change.
I don't think many people realize just how important Graphic Design can be to the culture and aesthetic of the modern world. We're in an unprecedented time in history where we spend most of our lives looking at screens for information, news, shopping and interaction. Graphic designers help decide what we see when we look at the world, and how we interact with it. Pantone's Colors of the Year 2021: Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray This is not the first year that Pantone has chosen a color duo for their "color of the year", but certainly this choice is less divisive than 2016's Rose Quartz and Serenity (Light Blue). According to Pantone's website, the choice of these two colors is "A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting." If you've been around this newsletter long enough, you know that Yellow is my favorite color, and while I much prefer the muted, mustardy tones of 2009's COY "Mimosa", the combination of rich buttery yellow and a solid, neutral gray is one of my favorites. The choice is appealing - a bright, stable and hopeful mix of color that is very different from last year's relatively safe choice of Classic Blue. 2021 could certainly use the sunny, cheerful energy!
Graphic Design Trends from Around the Web
A number of blogs and sites have put together their lists of Graphic Design trends for 2021. The video linked here is one that I watched the other day and found very interesting and informative, showcasing a lot of different types of media and how the trends below are being adapted across different platforms. UK design blog 99 Designs also posted their detailed list, and I just wanted to share and highlight a few that I think we will see more and more in the coming year in advertising and media:
  • Flat Color and Tactile Texture - Burger King recently rolled out a major brand overhaul and the design is full of retro flat-color goodness. It's a callback to the stylized art of the 1960's and 70's and I personally find it delightful. It's brave and bold, and does wonders to differentiate BK's personality from the competition. Flat color overall is a huge design trend that spans advertising, media, logo design and website design. Contrastingly, more and more UI and 3D designers are working with hyper realistic texture and tactile design, recreating the look and feel of texture and dimension within a digital landscape.
  • Abstractism, Futurism & Surrealism - Illustration and photography has taken massive leaps and strides into these three categories that really encompass three wildly different aesthetics, but I think can all be placed under a blanket category of escapism - seeing the world differently. It feels particularly poignant in 2021, as we look for ways and means to escape the dullness of quarantine. Which brings me to the third trend...
  • Nature and the Organic - It's no surprise that after being stuck indoors for so long, we find ourselves both physically and visually longing for the outdoors. Organic elements, from florals to foliage, are having a major impact, and not just in design, but also in things like sustainable packaging and alternative manufacturing that seek to bring change and awareness to the environment.
  • Representation, Diversity and Social Change - The last trend I want to mention is by far and away the most important. 2020 saw a huge shift in what representation means, with major brands striving to change their marketing to reflect real, diverse people and authenticity. The Black Lives Matter movement changed the face of major companies and highlighted the disparity in representation. Social media's response of highlighting and uplifting Black, Latino and LGBTQIA creators, designers and artists will have a lasting effect on the landscape of those spaces into 2021 and hopefully beyond.
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