The design sector is notorious for its typically slower rate of change throughout more usual epochs. Examples include the persistence of a 2010 trend toward representing logos as stylized geometric abstractions.
But generally speaking, the current situation is quite different from “normal times.” All this turmoil and uncertainty is pushing radical changes in many areas of design, and it’s occurring so rapidly that we may not even recognise it’s happening.
As a result, we’ve assembled an expert panel of designers to analyse the current climate and predict the future of the business in the next year. This post will teach you about 10 developments that will likely influence your creative output in the year 2023.
First, brands on the move.
Everywhere we go, we see examples of motion design: on digital billboards, websites, and mobile apps. That this is a good thing is shared by the vast majority of specialists.
It’s “animated or die,” as Martin Widdowfield, the brains of Robot Food, puts it. In order to keep up with the dynamic nature of the digital space, companies are experimenting with cutting-edge technology like virtual reality. We may now explore many strategies for enhancing our storytelling approaches and connecting with audiences via motion and animation.
He argues that this trend is even penetrating normally static mediums like packaging. As Martin puts it, “QR codes were all but dead” before the pandemic, but now people have acquired the behavioural skill of “scan for information.” The implications of this for augmented reality and how it could affect packaging in the future are exciting to consider. There will be a wave of innovative ideas to assist companies make the move from the internet to store shelves, I anticipate. Consider the question, “Can we digitise the universal unpacking experience?”
What’s the big deal about motion anyway? Mitch Paone, co-founder and chief creative officer of DIA Studio, provides further background. An obvious aesthetic benefit of a looping animation over a static image is the ability to show movement. This is most obviously seen in the differences between salsa and hip hop dancers, but at a deeper level, it is true that movement itself creates individuality. It is the dancer’s movements that show who they are since they are not changing.
Suddenly, “a brand may now have own-able choreography, or a behaviour that provides great originality,” he says, all owing to the development of the screen. This shift will have profound effects on the design industry. The forms and animations are an exquisite combination of artistic expression and technological advancement. It’s not enough to be skilled in traditional design to create significant work; designers also need an intimate understanding of motion, rhythm, and time, as well as knowledge with motion software.
A recent redesign of MailChimp by DIA Studio used this same strategy. Mitch explains the animation process by saying, “We focused on bringing it to life with motion.” The present brand, led by an expressive library of hand-drawn drawings and a yellow and black palette, was great for print and out-of-home advertising but was not scalable for digital assets like video, digital advertising, social media, etc.
The MailChimp mascot, Freddie, provides the creative impetus for the redesign, which has a clean, geometric line, a vibrant colour scheme, and an engaging bouncing motion. The updated method is very expressive and quite practical, as Mitch exclaims. MailChimp equips its staff with both static brand standards and a wide variety of motion-based toolkits to facilitate the distribution across all media.
Second emerging style: the modern American frontier.
As recently as five years ago, geometric minimalism was all the rage in the design world. In light of the worldwide pandemic and economic woes, this utopian aesthetic, however, looks increasingly dated. However, Space Doctors’ associate director Julius Colwyn has seen the opposite tendency.
‘The movement is all about a living, revitalised anarchy,’ he says. It’s a reaction to the slick homogeneity that dominates the branding of so many businesses nowadays. The need for unconventional styles including shocking collage, jarring contrasts, powerful neon, and unconventional frames is on the rise.
This approach, inspired by the early, lawless days of the internet, is willing to forego the possibility of peaceful coexistence in favour of friendly confrontation. According to Julius, acid green and terminal fonts, screen shots, and digital artefacts are all commonplace in this world. These designs are the outcome of new skills in the age of the creative economy, so their energy is more than just the mindless neon pandemonium of the early internet. Today’s youth have created a more structured version of digital anarchy thanks to their upbringing in the digital age.
Thirdly, there is a movement away from stipulations in design.
Its authenticity has accelerated its progression to tired cliché status. While the global pandemic has been terrible for everyone, it has given Universal Favourite the opportunity to work with an international customer or in tandem with international talent.
As a result, he sees the breakdown of boundaries across online subcultures as the most promising development for the design business in the year 2023. With the expansion of opportunities, he argues, “the customer that you’ve always wanted to work with” and “talent that you could only dream of working with” are both within reach.
That’s led to partnerships with creatives all the way from New Zealand to Berlin, as well as client requests from as far away as South Korea. The sharing of information and experience has the greatest promise, since this might result in innovative solutions with cultural ramifications as we emerge from the pandemic into a new world.
The fourth noticeable shift is a decline in individualism.
There was a time when every other talk at a design conference was about how to maximise your income by either charging more for your freelance work or launching your own business. However, things have changed since March of 2022.
To paraphrase Natalie Redford, creative strategist of Robot Food, “There has been a major change away from ‘hustle culture’ and the financial things that have validated us in the past toward measuring success based on how pleased you are. Self-care and prioritisation are stressed.
She wonders whether there will be a rise in the practise of blending different aesthetics as a result. Does the concept of indulgence and fun go hand in hand with a spare, modern style? Does the mantra of “more, more, more” mesh with a position against frivolous spending? The world may see more unrefined beauty as a result. It’s possible that nostalgia for the past is fueled by a desire to return to a more carefree era. The alternative is to simplify goals in order to make the achievement of luxury more feasible.
We can’t say whether 2021 will be a good year or not just yet. The creative director of ThoughtMatter, Samantha Barbagiovanni, puts it thus way: “Are we experiencing another “Summer of Love?” Partying? Happy that the epidemic is finally over? This was most certainly a time when the future was unclear. Nonetheless, in 2023, we will take the occasional, semi-risky step into what was once considered the “old world,” and we will be rewarded with the sensory, diverse, and emotionally satisfying moments of wonder that we have been missing in our safe but restricting homes. There is a receptive state of readiness in each of our senses.
Director of creative at BrandOpus, Ellen Munro, agrees. Despite the serious nature of our culture, more and more goods are reflecting a lighter, more lighthearted vibe. The percentage of companies whose core beliefs are promoted via positive advertising has increased recently.
When she heard that BrandOpus was working with Moto, the largest motorway service area network in the UK, to change the atmosphere at rest stops throughout the nation, she decided to get involved. She goes on to explain that the “Smile” of the brand is “a warm and welcome differentiating feature that may spread across the company’s full ecosystem,” adding that it injects “a good old dose of joy into the daily.” We wanted to “turn the switch” by prioritising “feeling over function,” connecting customers on a deeper, more visceral level, and making the highway service station provider the first active choice for resting and relaxing.
The ’90s Are Back in Style.
The 1980s were a watershed decade for American culture. We’ve been so mushy about them for decades. CPB London’s director of design, June Frange, believes their successor is ready for centre stage now that they have completed largely establishing the tone for future design trends.
He labels the trend as a return to “’90s MTV nostalgia.” Traditional idents, green screen, and memetic aesthetics. All of CPB’s recent ads for Ballantine’s whiskey have been imbued with this same sprit. He then explains that the “early internet aesthetic” has been around for a while and has been popularised by TikTok filters and lo-fi DIY video stars. Our core audience is made up of young adults, therefore we chose to appeal to their inner millennial by modelling our aesthetic after retro MTV idents from the 1990s.
Maximum Optimism is the sixth emerging trend.
We have shown that the trend toward minimalism is declining; hence, the contrary ideology, that of maximalism, should be on the rise. Clara Mulligan, the head of design at Anomaly London, has verified this.
She claims that “there is a visual revolution developing” after “years of graphic sameness” brought on by the “before restricted practical limits of living in a digital universe.” It used to be that “anything” was OK, but now people expect a higher standard. The days of modularity and austere, geometric brand structures have given way to the maximalist era of engaging visual encounters and dramatic narrative. These interesting maximalist realms have historical and strategic roots.
Molly Rowan-Hamilton, director of strategy at BrandOpus, draws analogies. She observes that many companies are employing monochromatic, vibrant colours to generate a “punchier, more ownable look and feel.” Colors that have been synonymous with a certain brand could branch out for a period. For example, Tiffany & Co. abandoned the traditional “Tiffany Blue” in favour of the more up-to-date “Tiffany Yellow” to appeal to a younger clientele and shake off the company’s stuffy, dated reputation.
BrandOpus’ Pipers Crisps follows suit by choosing a single, eye-catching colour to stand out on store shelves. She explains that the brand’s zesty flavour and lively character are what prompted the choice of vibrant hues.
Typography is becoming more colourful and fun, the seventh trend.
The seventh trend is the proliferation of colourful and quirky fonts.
Chris Algar, a leading designer at Design Bridge London, believes that 2023 will be a pivotal year for type. It is his prediction that “typographic styles would tap into extremely exaggerated characterful letterforms,” hence heightening the contrast between rounded and sharp edges.
He goes on to explain that the aforementioned motion design trend will have an impact on typefaces. The opening titles of series like Killing Eve and, more recently, Squid Game, were very popular during the lockdown, and it’s probable that they inspired the designers. The two are a great match since they both have interesting motion and exaggerated personalities, while taking very different approaches to typography.
Chris believes that Nike’s “Play New” ad campaign will have a major influence on 2023’s typographic trends, particularly in terms of saturation and contrast. As well as “celebrating the essence of the typeface with gorgeous flowing lines,” it has “vibrant colours and powerful contrasting forms for a contemporary take.”
Pattern 8: the lines between design, style, and labels are blurring.
The lines between these three fields are becoming more blurry. A lot of companies are learning the hard way that they can buy their way into coolness by forging partnerships, much as Apple did when it bought Beats by Dre.
BrandOpus’ strategy director Molly Rowan-Hamilton says “many brands are turning specifically to streetwear” as they look for “new means to bring their goods to life” in settings other than brick-and-mortar stores. With the aid of companies like Panera’s “soup” swimwear, Pizza Hut’s “tastewear,” and Carbone’s new fashion brand, Our Lady of Rocco, restaurants can now produce and sell $500 bomber jackets.
BrandOpus’ recent’street meats’ collection follows a similar line of thought with its 13-piece capsule collection inspired by the classic uniforms of the Hotdoggers. This collection was developed in partnership with the American food giant Oscar Mayer. This collection of streetwear is both an ode to the company’s signature rhomboid logo and an embodiment of its guiding concept, “never compromise.”
Ecologically sound procedures that value aesthetics 9th.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of talk about the planet’s condition recently. When compared to other industries, design is light years ahead.
Consumers “can now recognise greenwashing from a mile away,” says Free The Birds’ creative director Matthew Gilpin. “Companies can’t only use green packaging to show they care about the environment.” Because of the government’s Extended Producer Responsibility programme, brands are under increasing pressure to use more environmentally friendly packaging materials by April 2023.
Furthermore, this must also be communicated aesthetically.
Meeting consumer expectations, brand ethos, and environmental standards via the use of sustainable, recyclable, and low-carbon-footprint materials and finishes will be a challenge for designers and package engineers. Manufacturers of metallic foil have made headway in creating biodegradable products. In this case, the eco-friendly benefits of using water-based inks on virgin paper would be nullified by the addition of a soft-touch lamination. The trick is using these methods effectively. That’s the dividing line between eco-friendly in name only and really sustainable.
However, this has to be done properly and discreetly, or else clients will see through it. “Design for sustainability-focused firms used to be full of clichés in terms of colours, textures, typography, and graphics,” explains Anton Pinyol, co-founder and creative director of Firma. Colors and materials that tend toward the green spectrum, as well as paintbrushes, plants, and what seem to be hands holding a globe. But successful companies in the modern era are taking a new tack, one that is replete with tech jargon and bold self-expression.
Samantha Barbagiovanni, director of design at ThoughtMatter, agrees, adding, “Sustainability and reconnecting with nature is surely here to stay, with maybe a bigger emphasis on how Mother Nature’s medication may increase our well-being, alongside her surrounds.” Our wounds from the Covid attack are starting to heal in a deeper sense. Companies and organisations in this field will see this shift in perspective on design as an opportunity for education and introspection.
Tenth Trend: Disruptive and Strictly Realistic Visuals.
Our forecast from last year, that throwback details will play a significant part in 2022’s style, came true. Sam Barbagiovanni, on the other hand, thinks that things will be significantly different in 2020. While 2022 was defined by a level of realistic optimism, she expects that tone to shift in 2023. Some of the 2022 trends were already showing early signs of success, but with our greater mental, physical, and social readiness, we will see them reach their full potential this year.
So, what I’m getting at is this: “In 2023, we won’t be wistful for the past so much as we’ll be frantic to fulfil the unmet potential and fresh paths for development that we’ve uncovered during our lengthy time of seclusion and contemplation.” As individuals come together for a more specific, clearly defined purpose, supported by a design process centred on core values, a new crop of company owners will emerge.
In addition, we can all agree on one thing: we can’t afford to continue doing things the same old way in the face of an uncertain future. Wednesday Krus, director of design at ThoughtMatter, believes subversion will be a major trend in the next year (2023). Just as Brutalism was a disruptive reaction to the over-designed, over-analyzed designs of the previous generation, so, too, will “2023 go from disrupting to changing,” as she predicts.
All OK, but what exactly does it entail? The goal of subversive design is to motivate the audience to take action. As a maker or user, you’ll be challenged to think critically about your decisions. It stays away from dark themes and branding strategies that are exploitative or deceitful. It’s no longer acceptable for designers to actively seek to challenge or oppose the status quo via their work.
This new trend will utilise design as a tool to overturn established hierarchies that have enriched the few at the cost of the many. The current trend is toward dissenting viewpoints, and as is well known, the spread of conventional wisdom tends to dilute original analysis. A revolutionary act is what sets them free in the end.