As designers, we need to be always be learning and looking at the world around us. Even after we graduate from school, I expect that my classmates and I will need to continue our learning by constantly keeping up with the industry in order to stay up to date with new technologies and standards. Additionally, as designers, we need to pay attention to what people are interested in and what others are creating. For students and young designers, the first place we often go for inspiration is the internet where we find a lot of popular designs. This may cause us to reiterate a lot of design trends that will be irrelevant within a few years.
The creation of trends and the way that they spread is an interesting process. You can get lost on sites like Trendlist, which identifies graphic design trends and categorizes them by country and year, tracking their evolution. Pictured above is a project by designer Harrison Park which is a publication on trends in graphic design and how they effect professionalism within the industry in the 21st century. It references sites like Trendlist and uses a lot of the typical trends that the site lists in order to get it’s point across. Publications like HOW Design, AIGA and Creative Market put effort each year into predicting design trends and reporting on new ones. It’s interesting to keep up with and it helps to know whether or not your own ideas are just repetitions of whatever popular designs are circulating the internet.
Some of the trends that have been reported for 2016 seem like things that might have some longevity. Creative Market cited strategic use of negative space as a popular trend in 2016 for branding and logo design. However, a trend like this offers many different takes depending on the project and can yield clever ideas for strong, lasting results. Another trend I saw reported on a couple websites was typography that is bold, playful and dramatic. However, I think that typography that is expressive and commands attention can also be unique and result in strong, appropriate designs. Trends like these allow designers some freedom to try new things and can inspire other designers to do the same.
I do think that there are some trends that aren’t worth paying much attention to. For example, knowing Pantone’s “colors of the year” might not do much good for you if you never get an appropriate excuse to use them. It also might make your work a bit dated in a couple years. Same with trends like wiggles, or infinity shapes. Really specific trends like these will probably be gone in a couple of years and leave behind a bunch of work that no longer seems relevant or appropriate.
I think it’s good to be aware of trends. Even the ones that will pass within years or even months. It’s good to know how designers around you are thinking and what consumers enjoy seeing. However, getting caught up in trends will eventually make your work look like it’s rooted too much in the past and may not always create results that are appropriate to the client.
Thanks for reading!