5 design trends set to shape the future

Where is design heading? Our guess is that the broad societal trend towards a web and app-based lifestyle mean that strong currents will continue to encourage a standardisation and simplification of design, both online and off.

And that’s partly a good thing, because design is primarily about solving a problem, and the fewer obstacles we can put it people’s way – visual, cognitive or otherwise – the better our work will be.

But at the same time, no one wants to end up in a cookie-cutter world where every single piece of design looks and feels the same. So it’s the job of creatives everywhere to manage that pressure thoughtfully, harness our imaginations and passions, and find new and inventive ways to use design to solve problems in a way that’s both functional and inspirational.

No one’s saying it’s easy, but that’s the challenge that ultimately makes design work fulfilling. And to see where it will take us, we caught up with five industry leading creators to hear their thoughts.

01. A 2D comeback

2D animation of rugby players running towards a large tiger

Territory created stylised 2D cel animations for the Sky Super League titles

"In motion, I think 2D will have a renaissance," says Nils Kloth, creative director at Territory. "For the past few years, there was a huge drive for 3D design to be at the forefront, but there seems to be a shift happening."

02. Integration of the physical with digital

“We’re seeing an exciting move towards the seamless integration of the physical and digital within retail, exhibitions and brand experiences,” says Tino Schaedler, chief design officer at Optimist Inc. Los Angeles. “But as an industry, we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these immersive or ‘connected’ spaces.”

03. Colour ownership


Mailchimp's latest rebrand by COLLINS uses a prominent yellow, is it aiming to 'own' yellow?

The aspiration of brands ‘owning’ a single colour seems to be making a comeback, notes Luke Woodhouse, creative director at Ragged Edge. “With MailChimp adopting yellow and Coca-Cola going back to its iconic red roots on cans, it may be we’ll see more brands going back to basics and really owning colour as a tool for brand recognition in an increasingly busy and fast-paced world.”

04. Human-centred motion

“The use of animation as a way to improve the user experience of a site or app has become very well established online,” says Laura Walters, designer at The Tin

“The next step will be to translate brand personality into motion principles. A brand that defines itself as ‘human centred’ may choose to animate elements in a way that’s not quite perfect; objects may not land perfectly and may have a slight wobble.”

05. Greater brand transparency

Standard Black Irving Farm project packaging

Clear type and design helps to deliver brand transparency

 “Straightforward copy, clean type and images, and motion with fewer visual alterations will be the new norm going forward,” says Jared Tomlinson of Standard Black.

“The trend is all about transparency: brands that show you who they are and don’t tell you what you should be; pulling back on retouching; amplifying user-generated content; and having an inclusive tone of voice. This will permeate all forms of communication, from photography, video, social and copy, all the way through graphic design and identities.”

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts, the world's leading design magazine. Buy issue 287 or subscribe here.

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.