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4 graphic design trends to watch in 2021

By Remington College Posted September 2, 2021

There’s no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for many of us. It changed how people in many industries operate day-to-day, as well as how we all live our daily lives. But one area you might be surprised was affected? Design.

Indeed, our aesthetic preferences are shaped by so many factors, resulting in the trends we see in everything from clothing and furniture to TV ads and Instagram posts. So what’s trending now?

Popular graphic design trends of the past few years have been discarded, remixed and amplified as we look for visuals that both help us escape our hardships and capture the raw potential of the moment. Here are just a few of the design trends you can expect to see for the rest of this year and beyond.

  1. Neuomorphic interfaces

In a step away from the flat lay aesthetic that’s dominated UI/UX design for the past few years, neuomorphic design has been having its moment in the spotlight. The trend merges flat and skeuomorphic design, using texture and shading to give graphics a sense of “touchability.” Shapes appear connected with and rising from the background, creating an interesting 3D effect while still adhering to the simplified shapes and minimalist aesthetic that made the flat lay so popular.

  1. Retrofuturism and nostalgia

The challenges of the past year have led to a reemergence of nostalgic design. Many designers have been embracing old-school elements as a way of evoking simpler times, happier memories and a positive outlook on the future. We can see a similar reasoning behind the recent rise of 90s-inspired vaporwave, which draws on familiar early-internet aesthetics and pairs them with cheery pastels. This mash-up of retro aesthetics and modern, forward-thinking design appeals both to a sense of comfort and progress, and is likely to remain popular for the foreseeable future.

  1. Surrealism and the psychedelic

Another vintage-inspired movement, this trend pulls from psychedelic 1970s and Art Nouveau elements and imbues them with energetic color, organic shapes and funky, oversize fonts that make for eye-popping designs. A backlash against popular minimalist design, this aesthetic has seen a resurgence as designers seek to create bold, impactful images that draw on a history of escapist fantasy and community activism, both elements that resonate particularly with viewers today.

  1. Natural elements

Organically-informed designs are seeing a rise in popularity across platforms as designers embrace flowing lines and muted colors that are easy on the eyes, especially on screen. In particular, soft oranges and teals manage to walk the line between both the bright optimism and comforting, warm color schemes that are catching viewers’ eyes this year. Welcoming, relaxing and clean designs that romanticize and evoke nature are sure to hang around for a while.

Have you seen these trends starting to appear around you? Do you notice design and the underlying elements? Curious to know what will be trending next?