The conflict and chaos of the events of 2020 make it easy to feel down-and-out during these trying times. But in the process of dealing–and healing–from a year that left us feeling spun out of control, we at Summit Creative Marketing are looking forward to the future with bright eyes and open hearts. It is with optimism and excitement that we present to you our 2021 Design Trend forecast, in the hopes of uplifting spirits and imparting some much-needed good news. Feast your eyes upon the upcoming trends in design, font and color that are on our radar for 2021.
The proverbial swing of the pendulum throughout history is a well-known concept, especially in politics where societal attitudes waver between the progressive and conservative. Art naturally tends to reflect the era.
Font Trends in 2021
This swing is certainly seen reflected in design trends even as esoteric as fonts and typography. The sense of seriousness permeating the world will be countered by a rise in fonts that feel frivolous and offbeat, retro serifs that bop and bounce, and childlike styles (don’t worry, we’re not anticipating a Comic Sans career comeback.)
In today’s fast-paced news cycle, fonts play a pivotal role in what information and data is the most visible. Visual messaging is more important than ever. On social media especially, users cannot engage with brands, read news, or even share with each other without typograph.
Compressed and Ultra-Condensed Fonts
Logo design and branding trends in 2021 is about to feel the impact (pun intended) of compressed and ultra-condensed fonts. Admittedly, this font-type trend does prioritize aesthetic over legibility, as these typefaces are used as visual elements as much as they are informational. Think fashion photography and editorials, where the shapes of letters matter as much as the words they form.
The effects of social distancing and quarantine have many people experiencing a sort of regression as a coping mechanism to escape, due to our work-life schedules essentially becoming inseparable. Rediscovering beloved childhood activities such as baking, crafts, gaming and more has been a source of comfort for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we now have a new appreciation of these simple pleasures. As such, we expect these influences to pop up across the design world, promoting escapism and childlike wonder as a salve to 2020.
Serifs are back and better than ever. For the past year, these steadfast standbys lend an air of authority to brands looking to stand out amongst the competition. We’re looking forward to the evolution of the serif-font in 2021 as they become even more unique as brands attempt to assert themselves in already-crowded markets. The retro 1970s influence, which we’ve seen an uptick of, will blow up as a way of bridging the gap between simple, clean and serious vibes and playful, cheeky ones.
These clean and fresh fonts are largely informed by the fact that 2020 signified the beginning of a new decade. The associated themes of renewal, hope, and reinvention will be present in the way that we communicate with type beyond the words themselves.
Graphic Design Trends in 2021
In overall design trends in 2021, we anticipate seeing an overarching theme of unreality. It’s not hard to imagine why: these days, most people feel like they’re living in a fake fantasy world. The reality of a global pandemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives is difficult to accept, and many are even still in denial. The thought that it would even be a possibility in the year 2020 is so far out of the realm of most peoples’ imagination that it’s only natural that design would push these same boundaries just to overcompensate.
Unreality shows itself in some of the biggest design trends we anticipate for 2021. Surrealism is making a big comeback, as designers express the feeling that things are a little off. Designers achieve the surreal when they bring common, but unrelated things together to create something otherworldly, a description that doesn’t feel too far off from our reality at the moment. “Random objects and unpredictable juxtapositions” just sounds like a description of the news these days. The fantastical elements of surrealism also play to the escapism people crave during bleak times.
Psychedelic designs have seen a slight resurgence in recent months (think seltzer cans and other food/beverage items that signify bold flavor.) It’s this type of colorful, brazen design that people love to see because it simply makes them feel happy. Its freedom of form and intense optical color vibration, inspired by the pop art movement, calls to mind flower power, pacifism, and–more escapist sentiment, unsurprisingly from an art form inspired by acid trips–an idealized version of days gone by.
Piqued interest in cyberpunk design is a no-brainer, as dystopian talking points run rampant through much of today’s social commentary. The cyberpunk genre–yes, like steampunk, but futuristic–is enjoying a comeback. The man-and-machine aesthetic can be described as high-tech low life. It’s the pessimistic foil to retrofuturism–think of the future, but for those who cannot afford the shiny luxuries. This profile is indeed relatable to many folks nowadays, as the rich grow richer and the middle class continues to shrink. The feeling of inhabiting a world with resources that would change your life, if you could only access them.
Color Trends in 2021
The theme of renewal and new beginnings will tie into 2021 design themes all the way down to their very colors. Color trends in 2021 will foster a sense of rebirth but won’t be literal. A twist on a classic renewal color, Tidewater Green (HEX #2F4F4F) is described as a “deep, molten teal.” It gives off rejuvenating, organic, and healing energy, and makes a wonderful alternative to dark green or gray, which can tend to feel conservative or somber. It is a little more green than it is blue, and its grey undertones lend it depth. Additional yellow undertones give it a dynamism similar to other enigmatic hues such as red-orange and indigo. Despite its initial read as a dark color, it is surprisingly lively and versatile. It can serve as an accent color among neutrals like gray and cream, or a neutral alternative to gray among lighter hues such as lavender, powder pink or sage. Up the luxe factor and pair it with a metallic-like gold, copper, or silver.
Majestic Fortuna Gold
Majestic Fortuna Gold (HEX #DAA520) is projected to be a huge hit in 2021. Yes, all its connotations of luxury, riches and royalty establish it as a powerful hue. But Fortuna Gold is unique in that it doesn’t contain the brash of pure gold but has the patina of antique jewelry. This lends it an old, esteemed quality reminiscent of the ancient world. It conjures up images of historic precious metals forged centuries ago into coins, gold statuettes and precious talismans. The combines gold’s ancient associations with rarity and divinity and its modern-day affiliation with wealth and excess. Fortuna Gold can be a dramatic accent alongside intense colors, or as a soothing neutral instead of brown or gray. It has amber and olive undertones, which make it a natural complement to earth-toned palettes. Its non-metallic variant sits alongside orange and yellow on the color wheel and complements sharp, cool hues like cerulean and azure.
For more information on 2021 design trends, check out these articles from Shutterstock.