2019 was a year of contrasts. Hyperminimalism was very much in vogue while simultaneously, designers were pushing the limits of ’80s and ’90s retro, and beginning to explore what’s possible with interactive 3D. Big, bold fonts, asymmetrical designs, and a general flouting of conventional design principles ran right alongside the classic, tasteful fluidity of stark text on a white field.
In 2020 we expect this polarization to intensify as different schools of thought push the limits of their design sensibilities to the bleeding edge of what’s possible. It should be an exciting year, whether the focus is on web, graphic, or logo design. Here we present a few of the larger trends set to develop in 2020 across all three categories.
Web design is a study in extremes. Because of its interactive element, the web can be one of the most exciting areas for experimentation. At the same time, large corporate interests tend to favor more conservative approaches. What you end up with is a vibrant pastiche of influences.
What started in the last year or two as a way to save energy in a world dominated by bright white webpages is now becoming a design aesthetic all its own.
Black, or near black backgrounds will unseat white field dominance in 2020, and designers will use the extra depth this dark palette affords them to create dynamic websites with design elements that truly pop off the page. Dark mode also wraps in nicely with current trends toward moody, disjointed, and dystopic designs.
Deep 3D Interactivity
Designers began playing in this space in earnest last year, but the aesthetic will explode in 2020 as the line between webpages, games, and immersive 3D experiences start to blur.
Expect to see designers create engaging, interactive 3D dioramas, story worlds, and other UI/UX elements that elevate websites from flat presentations of information into adventurous romps through virtual worlds. 3D immersion answers the age-old internet question, “How do we keep visitors on our site longer and get them to engage on a deeper level?”
Designers that felt that ultra-minimalism wasn’t minimal enough will be experimenting with typography as the dominant, and sometimes the only element in their designs this coming year.
Typography-led design eschews photography and illustrations as dominant elements in favor of clever uses of lettering to guide visitors through a website. This may present as novel navigation methods, potent representations of information, or playful design touches.
Graphic design is ubiquitous in modern life, and just as fashion, architecture, interior design, and other disciplines have fads that come and go, graphic design moves in waves.
Loose Line Art
2019 saw typography go from solid to outlines, and in 2020 we expect to see that visual change carry over into other graphical elements. Icons and other illustrations will be given a fluid line art treatment that feels hand-drawn, often with an uninterrupted style, as if the artist’s pen never left the canvas.
This style will translate very well into animation as well, so we expect to see this trend popping up in web videos and commercials as well.
Gritty design has been in vogue for quite a few years now, but the sorts of graffiti styles present in urban environments were generally relegated to genre-specific applications.
Expect to see brands across the spectrum embrace street art styles in 2020 as urban culture completes its transformation into a dominant force that crosses generations and demographics.
Muted Color Palettes
In answer to the excesses of 2019’s forays into ‘80s revivalism, designers are likely to pull back from bright, garish color options and focus more on muted palettes that evoke subtler emotional notes.
These desaturated palettes will help distinguish brands at a time when visual overload is weighing down on consumers and causing them to disconnect from the more frenetic visual imagery that has dominated graphic design over the last few years.
Brands must continuously evolve to stay relevant in a shifting marketplace. What was a bold logo ten years ago might now feel tired compared to new competition. This natural process of one-upmanship drives trends in logo design.
Simple geometric shapes are evergreen when it comes to logo design, and when designers find new ways to use these simple forms, the trend tends to catch on quickly. In 2020 you’ll see simple geometric forms used to frame in more complex artwork.
In some cases, the artwork is contained within the geometric frame. In other cases, the outer edges of the contained artwork define the shape of the frame. This creates a dynamic interplay of form that tends to be very memorable.
Logos have classically been static objects that might get an animated treatment when used in video applications. The web is changing that dynamic, and a number of logos now get a simple animation treatment for use on webpages and other digital media.
In 2020, expect to see this far more often as an increasing number of brands jump on the bandwagon. These simple, fun little animations give a logo a new personality, giving the brand that little extra bit of visibility.
This style of logo seems imperfect or unfinished. Look for chunky, uneven lines, unrefined typography, scratches and dirt, and hand-drawn elements. Often they’re created to give the illusion that the initial pencil drawing the logo was based on is still subtly there in the background.
In many ways, these “ugly” logos are a response to the flat logo movement that sprang up a few years ago when geometric perfection was the rule of the day. It can be hard to make “unrefined” look refined, but that’s the challenge that drives designers.
There are, of course, far more exciting trends than we can include in a single article. Give us a call if you’re interested in chatting about some of the other directions we could take your project. Because we’re design experts. We follow trends. We set trends. We eat trends for breakfast. We can put the power of design to work for you.