Is Design Racially driven?

Design Trends of the World — U.S.A

When a tech company releases their latest OS, an influx of design trends emerge. We’ve had:

  • Gradients
  • Glass
  • Orbs
  • Skeomorphism
  • Flat
  • Shadows
  • Material

As designers we jump on the bandwagon and literally follow suit but if we look beyond the technology we’ll see a history of design styles that have cultural impact worldwide. These styles become more then a trend, they become an identity for a nation.

That’s right! Its graphic designers and artists who give different countries their identities and during this series of blogs we’re going to look at every nation and their identity with graphic design.

To kickstart us on our graphic design trip around the world, we’re going to begin with the almighty U.S.A

American Graphic Design Trends — Retro & Nostalgia

Is it their power as a nation or their size? Or is it a natural ability for great style that allow USA to have such a cultural impact with their design? In my opinion it’s down to their ability to market themselves well. The whole world knows at least a little about American design and culture because of the way they market it to the whole world through arts and entertainment but as modern and dynamic as the USA may be their most famous styles of design are actually those of the past.

That’s right, they love nostalgia and throwing back to an established time period which can clearly define a true style. Americas “Mid-Century Modern” (1960s) is visually one of my favorites, turning homes into artistic, cool and contemporary buildings with sharp edges and slanting slopes. Combine this with blobby curves and a hand lettered type and you get a modern design trend that fuses a futuristic theme with good old fashioned blocks of colour. (Disneys “Incredibles” is probably one of the best representations of that style.)

Another could be the Art Deco trend (Pre-War — 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s) which used a mixture of strong American flair with pretty decorative elements to produce a very European style for a classy and eclectic American city look.

But if we fast forward into the future we can see America’s biggest brands names using huge marketing budgets to push out exceptional digital pieces of contemporary design for commerce.

It’s clearly clever and definitely cutting edge but yet it still can’t outdo the most symbolic and retro styles of graphic design that America has produced in the past such as :

Uncle Sam & Rosie The Riveter :

The Jet Plane Pin up girl:

Whilst the Coca Cola & Nike adverts push the boundaries of design on a universal level, the old nostalgic and retro feel for graphic design has not gone away with American graphic designers utilisng the retro style notoriously over the years to give any piece of work from identity design to web design a friendly, bespoke and warm feeling.

By combining elements from the Americas past we can easily create the American Retro design trend thats become so popular today.

The Recipe……

Uncle Sam’s Typography + Hand Type from the Pinup Girls. Throw in some Art Deco + and a little Mid Century Modern and you can easily get some form of American Retro style.

Thanks for your input into design America.

Originally published at

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