5 colour trends set to make waves in 2023

The ebb and flow of colour trends reflect the state of the world and times in which we live. In recent months, society has been marked by increasing economic pressures, political division, war, and an ongoing climate crisis – so it's no wonder that this year’s colour trends are a little conflicted.

In 2023, there is a noticeable split between nostalgic, soothing colour palettes that offer a calming sense of escapism, and more rebellious, saturated colour schemes that clap back at the challenging social environment.

The following five colour trends, identified by our global community of freelance designers, capture and express a range of responses: from warm, nostalgia-infused comfort, to bolder, sharper shades that scream out from screens or packaging. 

Whether you lean toward optimism or realism (or even pessimism), this year's colour trends offer creatives and brands ample opportunity to express themselves at both ends of the spectrum, and anywhere in between. Of course, trends don't have to always be followed, but just like with the latest illustration trends and graphic design trends, it's good to know what they are.

01. 1970s nostalgia

colour trend 2023 example - chocolate bars in brown and orange on a pink background

The taste of the '70s? (Image credit: Darl Bar)

Let's boogie on down to the colour palette of yesteryear! That's right, we're talking about the earthy browns, mustard yellows, and avocado greens that adorned the walls of your grandma's living room. But don't worry, this is not a full-blown shag carpet revival (although who knows, we’ll keep an open mind). Instead, these retro hues are showing up in modern, sophisticated ways.

Designers and brands are taking a cue from the past and infusing retro colours with a contemporary twist. The 1970s colour palette is being reimagined in sleek, minimalist designs, making it more accessible for a new generation of trendsetters. 

a gift card with a retro colour palette

A retro rainbow (Image credit: Houseplant)

Brands doing this well include Houseplant and Darl Bar, with the richer, warm tones creating cosy, inviting style that doesn't feel dated. It's like the '70s met the 21st century, and on the walk back from the disco they decided to collaborate on a killer colour palette.

Whether you're a die-hard vintage enthusiast or a newbie to the trend, there's no denying that the '70s are having a moment. Why not embrace your inner bohemian and add a little retro flair to your branding? 

02. Mediterranean warmth

colour trend 2023 example

This packaging concept by draws on a muted palette (Image credit: IleanaP on 99 designs by Vista)

Picture sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and lounging on a sun-kissed terrace. That's the feeling that these colours evoke. Soft pinks, muted blues, and warm neutrals all come together to create a palette that's as soothing as it is beautiful.

Incorporating this trend into your designs is all about creating a sense of tranquillity and serenity. Use these colours to create a peaceful oasis in a busy, hectic world. Whether it's a website for a spa, packaging for a calming tea, or a logo for a yoga studio, the Mediterranean colour trend is the perfect way to create a sense of calm.

Let these soft, gentle tones wash over you and transport you to a place of relaxation and peace. Your clients and customers will thank you for it!

03. Acidic hues

colour trend 2023 example

Acidity is in (Image credit: Birdmetry Studio on 99 designs by Vista)

Are you ready to add some serious zest to your palette? Look no further than super bright acidic hues - the electric, eye-catching colours that are taking the creative world by storm. These hues are like a jolt of caffeine for your visual senses, injecting energy and excitement into any design.

From neon pinks and oranges to electric yellows and greens, these bold colours are perfect for making a statement. Whether you're designing a brand identity, creating a mural, or putting together a social media post, these colours demand attention and leave a lasting impression.

And let's be real, who doesn't need a bit more brightness in their life? As we continue to navigate the ups and downs of this hectic world, a pop of acid green or fuchsia pink can be just the pick-me-up we need. 

04. Silver chrome

colour trend 2023 example

#mood (Image credit: Ian Douglas on 99 designs by Vista)

Say goodbye to traditional colour palettes and hello to edgy and youthful vibes. Moody silver chrome is a statement, a rebellion, a call to arms for the anti-establishment folks out there.

So, if you're looking to break free from the norm and express yourself in a bold and unconventional way, moody silver chrome is the way to go. Embrace your inner rebel and show the world that you're not afraid to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. It's not just a colour, it's a mood.

05. Millennial kitsch

bright webpage with yellow and pink

Mr Beast's website offers some Y2K nostalgia (Image credit: Mr Beast)

Have you noticed that everything old is new again? That's right, the millennial kitsch from 2022 is continuing this year. It's like we're taking a trip down memory lane, but with a fresh coat of paint.

Those bright, bold shades that were everywhere in the early 2000s are back and better than ever. Think electric blues, hot pinks, and lime greens. It's like Lisa Frank threw up all over the design world, and we are totally here for it. These colours are so playful and nostalgic, they recreate the feeling of being in your childhood bedroom, surrounded by posters of your favourite bands.

For more on colour trends, see 99designs by Vista’s full list of 2023 trends.

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Patrick Llewellyn
CEO, 99designs by Vista

Patrick Llewellyn is CEO of 99designs by Vista, the global creative platform that makes it easy for small businesses to work with professional freelance designers around the world. 99designs has paid out more than US$400m to its creative community to date, working across brand and logo design, packaging, web design and more.