a five-year review of design trends, plus 2019 predictions

Erin | 01.07.19

There has always been a delicate push and pull dichotomy that influences design trends year over year. How do (the collective) we preserve what is classic and essential while introducing novel and attention-grabbing aesthetics? How far can we push the boundaries of what is considered interesting while scaling back on what is unnecessary?

Take a look back at the last give years of some of the more prominent trends in design as well as what we're predicting will be the next "big thing" in 2019.

2014 - The release of Apple's iOS7 in the summer of 2013 solidified flat design (think simplified elements without shadows, textures or gradients) as the preferred aesthetic, while making skeumorphism (think realistic design elements that have a 3D effect or imitation of a real object) outdated; seemingly overnight. This trend was embraced across industries as scaling back was shown to improve a design's "shelf life".

2015 - Minimalism began to take shape in the form of thinness - thin icons, thin fonts and monolines (same weight lines) used logos, icons, typography and illustrations. The airy, open style incites nostalgia with its similarity to childhood drawings while piggybacking off of the popularity of handmade/crafted goods (demand growth illustrated by Etsy merchandise sales).

2016 - The first time Pantone, the global authority on color standards for design industries, chose two colors of the year - Rose Quartz and Serenity. Pantone's reasoning for choosing a blending of tow colors was that "As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the color of tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace." Two tones, and in particular, gradients, become more accepted as the movement toward digital first design forages ahead (pixels can handle color blend well).

2017 - Mix and match typography and big, bold typefaces become more of the norm and used as a tactic to fight against the ever-dwindling attention consumer attention span. The combination of two or more fonts creates a scrapbook-like effect, making designs more dynamic (if executed correctly).

2018 - Brand simplification/rebranding as a means to communicate adaptability and acknowledgement of changing consumer needs made headlines. Dunkin' dropped the 'Donuts' in a well-orchestrated move to "modernize the experience" for their customers. Weight Watches shortened their moniker to WW with the tagline "Wellness that Works" to put the focus on overall health not weight loss. And Joann lost the "Fabrics" in order to convey that they are more of a crafting mecca rather than just a fabric store.

2019 and beyond, a couple predictions

"Design will flip the trend and go back to a more specific product approach to tap into company's core personalities. A more personal approach to design will utilize lighter and elegant illustration, the return of duotone image techniques. Individuality and simplicity in logo design and serif typography displayed in a disruptive manner. Angular elements, larger and more expressive color schemes and asymmetric compositions will buck the trend of symmetry set by UI design from recent years." - Matt Miller, designer

"With all the turmoil and unrest in the world, design solutions will inherently gravitate towards promoting a positive change to societal issues. As designers, we can use our tools to bring to light the change our communities and the world need. The year 2019 will present more campaigns targeting social issues - global warming, relief from natural disasters, the opioid crisis, holding politicians accountable, racial/gender/sexual orientation inequalities - the list goes on. I was once told that the world isn't going to get saved through graphic design - I like to think that designers will have something to say about that and will take part int he solution." - Michael Seidl, designer