Design Trends for 2021

May 19, 2021
Lee Hedger - Source Piktochart
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Design Trends for 2021

2020 was a crazy year, and nearly half way through 2021 we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel

For us — the design team at Navy Blue London — the one thing we’ve learned is how communication and design play a big part in bringing content to life and connecting people across the world.

Despite the range of cultures and backgrounds, we agree that certain designs catch our attention more than the others; or some styles that feel more familiar than others.

Here’s our prediction for the upcoming design trends from various categories (i.e. illustration style, icon style, color, font and data visualization) that will bloom in 2021.

1. 3D Design

Have you seen any of the following 3D-like avatars in your newsfeed recently?

3d avatars

While minor 3D effects like shadow and overlay have been around since forever, in 2021, designers are taking it to another level, and this style is taking over the internet.

It’s getting a spotlight due to the hyper-realistic effect on a supposedly 2D illustration of characters or scenes. We predict that this will keep getting more popular in 2021.

Back to the 90s 3D design
Back to the 90’s by Romain Briaux
Digital school 3D design

Those textures look so real that they begin to look more like a photo than an illustration. Apart from the illusion of depth, what distinguished this style is the usage of highly vibrant colors. Digital-and web designers are well aware of that, and they often use 3D visualization to better visualize products and processes on websites and social media.

2. Natural & Organic Shapes

Natural design and organic shapes have been growing in popularity for quite some time; with people moving to healthier and more natural choices in general. Not only do we see designs with bold prints of leaves and colorful fruits, but also plants are being used as decorative elements.

Superfood essentials packaging design
Superfood Essentials – Logo, Identity & Packaging Design by Kane McGuinness
Zen botanicals tea packaging
Zen Botanicals Tea packaging by Teodor Radivojcevic
Fresh in box
Fresh in box by Multiple Owners
Jugos del valle rebranding
Jugos del Valle – Rebranding by Daniela Marvil

With the current pandemic, we all feel the urge to spend more time in nature, and this brings a set of opportunities to instead bring nature to you.

You can inject fresh air into your visual by using leaf shapes in your infographics, or adding plants in your presentations or reports to visualize company growth

Organic and artistic shapes, which have been dominating retail designs for quite some time, are now bringing social media posts to life. Curvy and fluid-like lines and shapes are often seen on social media feeds as they convey a joyful and light-hearted feeling.

Kaplan stickers
Kaplias Stickers by Alexandra Necula

3. Monochrome & Duotone colors

In terms of color style, monochromatic and duotone colors have inspired designers throughout centuries to create minimalist and elegant looks on print designs.

The Tokyoiter
大津 萌乃 by Ootsu Moeno
Takao 599 museum
TAKAO 599 Museum by Daikoku Design Institute
Infographic duotone example
Infographic by Franziska Volmer

The key is to use a limited set of well contrasting colours, (you can play with tints & shades) and to apply it to all the elements within your visual, from the background, icons and photos to charts.

Duotone was a popular image filter or effect in 2018, where you combine two highly contrasting colors, and the trend continues on 2021 and spreads not only to photos but illustration and poster design.

Duotone icon set
Duotone Icon Set by Mila Spasova
how work works post
How Work Works – Poster by Olga Vajagić

4. Geometric Shapes & Patterns

They’re back! Geometric shapes are an all-time favourite design element that gets better and better over time.

The idea is to build a complex component from basic shapes like squares, rounds, rectangles, or triangles. You can use them as a visual metaphor to envision your concepts and tell your brand stories. The creative possibilities are endless.

Asana pattern design
Asana / Pattern 1 by Kemal Sanli
Conference call
Conference Call by TRÜF

5. Typographic Contrast

By contrast, we mean combining fonts with very distinctive characteristics or style to create harmony. And to create contrast, you can play with font sizes, font weights, or even pairing two completely different looking fonts.

The trend started in 2019, by 2020, maxi typography–where you play with contrasting font sizes–was commonly used in website and landing page design.

Isolation reflection
Isolation Reflection3 by Nathan Riley
bold typography

We are expecting this trend to become even bolder in 2021 because it’s perfect at attracting attention. You can apply this style to your ebook cover page, to resumés or CVs. You can also use it in social media to divert the attention and help your audience to focus. The key is to be as quirky as possible, use an extra big size font for headline and keep your body copy to its minimal readable size, or combine a bold-strong serif font with regular sans serif.

6. Visualized Data

Data visualization plays an important part in reporting and visual communication. It brings your information to life in the shortest amount of time.

During the pandemic, we have witnessed how data visualization helps to keep information overload under control, and keep everyone updated on the critical numbers.

Bing covid

As you look closer at data visualization, you’ll notice the rising trend of infographics on data reporting, and step by step instructions in 2020.

Data visualization
Path to Pandemic Data Visualization by James Round
2 infographic data
2 Infographics for Rakuten Germany by Franziska Volmer

Apart from this, we can see another trend of using simple graphics and text to visualize the data.

Jeff Bezos pixel wealth

That’s our prediction on 2021 design trends so far. We are excited to discover many more innovative and creative designs that will inspire you to communicate your story.

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