Design trends predicted for 2020

We take a look at key design trends that we believe will shape the year, and offer some key tips for keeping on top of learnings and continued development within the industry.

Emily Walton | Junior Designer
Mailchimp illustration

Simplified illustrations

Simplified illustrations can be used to convey concepts and ideas and communicate messages distinctly. Illustrations are already common, but we think that simplified illustrations will be a technique that becomes more heavily adopted.

The lack of detail within this type of style allows designers to focus not on the art itself but the message it conveys. Meaning that this style could start to look oversimplified, sketchy, and even childlike. Here is an example of Mailchimp’s homepage – the header section contains an animated GIF style illustration (animated GIFs also detailed further down). The combination of line art, colouring outside the lines and stripped back detail of the illustration showcases this sketchy, childlike style we will start to see more commonly this year.

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Taking gifs to the next level

At the same time, in 2019 we saw brands cleverly utilising GIF animations in fun and innovative ways to bring their messages to fruition. Brands using this format can offer quick and quirky responses to notable events throughout the year.

For 2020 we predict we will see storytelling through the use of dynamic graphics and content; animated mascots and brand assets that move; and interaction with social media and website. Mark Chatelier, Executive Creative Director at StormBrands said, “Designers can no longer afford to sit still. It’s time for brands to follow and explore how the popularity of the updated GIF format can work for them. Otherwise, it’s an opportunity wasted.”

Similarly, GIF animations have started to become more popular in email marketing and web page design too. We think that this animation style will begin to reshape the digital landscape in the coming year. Take a look at Ikea’s animated logo format.

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Animated Gifs

Going monochrome

It would seem there is always a cycle with creative trends and this year seems to show the return of Monochrome after first being picked up in 2017. However, since 2017, the trend has evolved into an even more simplified version. This new styling takes the effect of a monochrome colour filter being widely applied to photos or partial elements in graphic composition. This trend is a visual break in the loud, multicolour world of designs, which makes it so effective. From UI/UX to packaging, this trend challenges minimalistic design in a new way.

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Shiny Metals

Shiny metals

Using metallic materials in graphic design has established itself as being ultra-trendy for branding identity and packaging design. By rule, this trend requires a minimalist overall design, since the focus falls on the metallic effect itself. Gold foiling has been more commonly used over the years and will continue this year – it conveys luxury, class, and good taste.

To make the gold foil effect even more impressive, branding specialists often combine this trend with an embossed effect as seen in this image from BP&O. The example here delivers a dual sense of high-quality and affordability through a contemporary mixture of letterforms, block foil print treatment and a tactile uncoated material.

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Image and text masking

Image and text masking are not new techniques to the design world. They are a way of allowing a simple design piece to become unique and showcase a subtle story behind it. Used to highlight typography or graphics to capture subtle messages, the use of bold typography allows a large portion of space for an image to sit within. This big portion allows a large area of image unrevealed, which in turn helps achieve a mysterious and minimalist look. Used throughout any design piece it can make for bold and impactful statements. It can be used in a header section on a website or even used as a graphical mask as seen here; this is a sure-fire way of bringing any message to life.

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Image and text masking

New year, new learnings

With any new year it is important to refresh our minds with new trends that are forecast for the upcoming year. As designers it is essential that we are constantly keeping our ear to the ground for any new techniques, trends or news in the design world. By knowing what is trending in the industry, we can offer innovative ideas for their needs instead of relying on the basics. Constantly creating new design work that melds current trends with our business style will transform an online portfolio into a unique visual destination for designers and clients alike.

Some helpful tips on how we like to stay up to date with trends is to never stop reading. There are a number of blogs, books or websites that offer news and trends. It is also important to look at projects other companies or freelancers have created, not just from the area you live in but from around the world.

Other ways of keeping up to date are by taking part in hands-on courses at a college or institute in your area. You could also try design software workshops or online courses for learning new skills. The tutorials found online are created by designers just like us who are keeping up with trends and are paying it back to the graphic design community. You really don’t have to look very hard to find a learning resource these days.

How are you keeping up to date with new learnings in your sector? Whether design or not we’d love to know how you continue to develop your skills.