Whenever you write a design trend article, I think it’s required to mention how much you hate design trend articles, and how they’re always way behind the times, and how the trends are always stupid, and how Dropbox already did it last year, and how, simply by writing about it, you’ve either doomed it to never actually happen, or end it before it even had a chance.
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are some design trends I’ve noticed cropping up lately, and my predictions for 2019 and beyond.
1. Cozy Design
Design has gotten so…cold. And sterile. And lifeless. Apps and entire brands have started to feel like hospitals and laboratories.
“Cozy Design” is all about a feeling of warmth, comfort, and relaxation. It’s about reintroducing humanity back into design. Think “hygge” (hoo-ga):
'Hygge': 9 Ways To Be More Danish
Pinterest: macadameia.tumblr.com Before we go anywhere, let's point out the elephant in the room. 'Hygge' (pronounced…
One Medical is doing a phenomenal job reinventing the sterile medical industry by injecting (we’re doing medical puns now) some coziness into the user experience. This is reflected throughout their brand: colors, typography, imagery, and messaging.
Coziness is one of those things that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. You can feel it. It’s the way a film photograph looks, or a grain leather bag feels. It’s candid, charming, authentic, and approachable.
I think we’re going to see the return of warmer palettes — yellow-tinting instead of blue-tinting (more on this later). This has been making the rounds in fashion already with the resurgence of 70s retro.
Typography has already swung back toward serifs, and there’s something cozy about it. Maybe it’s that library, cuddled-by-the-fireplace feeling.
2. Analog Media Mimicry
Typeform and Mailchimp were early pioneers of the Return to Analog, and I think we’re going to see a lot more. The design world has cruised in Flatland for a while, and designers are itching to get back to…well…designing.
Design, fashion, and decor are very cyclical…it’s a swinging pendulum from clean and minimal (Mid-Century Modern, Scandinavian) to gaudy and maximal (Camp, Bohemian, Street, Brutalist).
As soon as it starts feeling a little too sterile…a little too perfect…the pendulum swings back in the other direction to inject some life back into design. There’s a nostalgia about it, too.
People pine for a little wistfulness, and they’re reaching for their record players, tube amps, straight razors, candle-making supplies, and paintbrushes. I, for one, welcome the analog return.
3. Analog Methods & Practical Design Techniques
To mimic analog effects, it only makes sense to (re)introduce some analog methods of creation: practical photography, painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, scanning, film, sewing, typewriters, etc.
This type of design and creation takes a considerable amount of time to do, but the results are unique and quite visually stunning.
4. Fine Art
Reflecting on design visuals over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a MASSIVE swell in illustration. You know the style:
After everyone in the industry started c̶o̶p̶y̶i̶n̶g̶ producing art in this style, things started getting less “perfect”, and more freehand:
So how far will it go? I think pretty far. I’m excited to see a revival of fine art techniques, and a reawakening of the craft. Fine artists rejoice!
I urge you to dust off your paintbrushes, stretch some canvases, and sharpen your pencils. Really.
If you’re not already convinced, check out these pieces from Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2019 menswear collection:
Bring out the paints.
5. Warmer, Softer Colors
But that’s okay.
Palettes are already getting softer, and like I said earlier, new color systems may shift toward the warmer end of the spectrum for a cozier, more human appeal.
Super-saturated, blue-shifted color palette of 2018:
Softer, yellow-shifted color palette of 2019:
Everything is just a little bit warmer. In UI, one of the more subtle changes will be warmer grays. Goodbye “frost”…hello “sand”.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
If you scroll back up through this article, you’ll start to see what I mean. Everything just feels…cozy.
Maybe there’s a theme in all of this:
Technology, social media, politics, traditional media…everything whizzes by faster than our brains can really even comprehend, and I think people are aching for some slow-down comfort. That is, reminders that the world is only as automated and robotic and sterile as you decide to make it.
Efficiency and complexity might be dazzling, but at what cost? Some of the best restaurants in the world have stripped their menus of all complexity, creating authentic dishes where ingredients simply speak for themselves.
There’s a certain humanity to it. Comfort. Coziness.
I think the world needs a little authenticity. So that we might be reminded that behind all of these pixels…are people.