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The ultimate guide to design trends

Love them or hate them, design trends are an international phenomenon that can spread incredibly quickly, and can be hugely influential on style and creative practice across the board. Whether you choose to follow them or avoid them is up to you.

Some are small, and relatively short-lived; others evolve into major global design movements that span many disciplines. Some of the biggest design movements of the 20th century (opens in new tab), lasted years or even decades; others are still relevant now.

Global design movements

Significant design movements of this millennium so far include embracing failure; striving for authenticity; paring things back to basics; the DIY 'hacker' economy; the blend between physical and digital worlds; and the rise of experience culture.

Of course, some of these have become design trend buzzwords and designers are all-too-often jumping on the bandwagon without fully understanding their significance, or applying them to their own unique practice.

Read on for our essential guide to the biggest design trends of the moment. We will continue to add to this post with up-to-date examples.

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10 huge graphic design trends for 2018 (opens in new tab)
Featuring the 'little big idea'; braver colours; the return of brutalism; hyper brand distillation; modern still-life; generative identities; flat packaging graphics; 3D-modelled typography; geometric type; and the continued use of hand-drawn elements.

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5 graphic design trends to watch (opens in new tab)
Discover five broad trends that have influenced graphic design in recent years, including typographic deconstruction; simplification;  intense, heightened colours; the revival of big brandmarks; and the potential in design automation.

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9 more top graphic design trends (opens in new tab)
Some more influential design trends, including colour overlays; neo-Memphis design; the growth of minimalism; progressive web apps; VR in branding; retro design; digital drawing tools that feel more real; competitive design software; and the rise of AI.

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5 logo design trends for 2018 (opens in new tab)
Five significant trends that will shape logo design throughout 2018: greater simplicity and clarity; the use of uppercase type; modern retro style; the gradual evolution of established brands; and the continued prominence of flat design.

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5 huge trends in app icon design (opens in new tab)
These five symbols have become visual shorthand for a whole generation of apps: envelopes for email; triangular arrows for media; ticks for productivity; locks and keys for security; and paintbrushes or pencils for creativity.

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4 on-trend illustration styles for your next project (opens in new tab)
We take a closer look how leading illustrators have put their own spin on the biggest visual trends of the year. These hot illustrators  could be perfect for your next design project.

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3 major visual trends that capture life in 2018 (opens in new tab)
Based on a detailed analysis of over a billion searches and 400 million image downloads, Getty Images and iStock by Getty Images (opens in new tab) present three major visual trends: Conceptual Realism; Second Renaissance and Masculinity Undone.

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7 biggest illustration trends of 2018 (opens in new tab)
An inspiring collection of illustration trends, including playful colours; female empowerment; absurdity and surrealism; anxiety and alienation; 1990s retro; Japanese-style work; and fusions between digital and hand-drawn.

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11 huge illustration trends (opens in new tab)
Identified by iStock by Getty Images (opens in new tab) in 2017, these 11 inspiring trends include stippling; hand-doodled geometric patterns; surrealism; handmade script fonts; multiple exposures; unique perspectives; gaming-inspired styles and more...

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6 more hot illustration trends (opens in new tab)
Six more fascinating illustration trends that we've identified in recent years, including VR experiments; abstract compositions; lo-fi sketching; political subject matter; collage techniques; and a little twist of naughtiness.

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8 design industry trends for 2018 (opens in new tab)
Leading design agencies outline the industry’s biggest emerging trends, including better gender representation; planning for Brexit; the rise of social video; the resurgence of the physical; brands bringing more design in-house; sustainability and more...

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5 major design agency trends (opens in new tab)
Key trends shaping the agency world, including an increasing demand for deeper design thinking; a growing need for quality staff; greater choosiness over clients; the rise of the virtual agency; and the ongoing role of big agency buy-outs.


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5 design industry trends for students (opens in new tab)
Five things uni might not teach you, including: the increasing importance of design; how web design is being disrupted; the merging and regrouping of disciplines; the intrinsic value of social media; and how the industry is spreading out.

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5 fonts we love to hate (but maybe shouldn't) (opens in new tab)
There are thousands of options out there, and yet certain fonts are everywhere. Some seem to make a mockery of the art and craft of typography, while others just seem like a lazy, default fall-back option. But is all the hatred justified?

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5 classic fonts that are still on trend (and why) (opens in new tab)
Despite the proliferation of typefaces on the market, a noble few have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries, to remain in-demand and relevant amid a sea of young pretenders. We explore five classic fonts that aren't showing their age.

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Nick Carson
Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards (opens in new tab) in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.