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6 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2018

6 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2018

With 2017 at a close, we can’t help but look towards 2018 and the design trends it may bring. We predict the overarching idea of “simplicity” in designs will be less and less desirable. You will begin to notice a push towards complex and intricate designs, rather than clean and simple. This is a major shift from years past, as minimalism has taken over the art world since the 1960s. The stakes are high for 2018, but we’re here to help you stay ahead.

1. Depth, depth, depth.  -Not Thoreau

Depth is definitely in and we think it’s here to stay. Whether you simply add in drop shadows or create more dimension through layers of shapes and images, it is important to keep this trend in mind in 2018. Not only can it add visual appeal, depth can also be used as a tool for establishing hierarchy. Once incorporated, these seemingly small changes can not only result in that oh-so-coveted “pop” of your previously flat design, but also have functional purposes of emphasizing some elements over others, as you can see in the example on the right.

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2. Not-so-simple icons

Not only are flat designs out this year, but flat icons are as well. Sadly, it isn’t enough anymore to create a simple icon or drag one from The Noun Project into your Illustrator file. A push towards multi-colored and multi-dimensional icons has been on the rise.

As you can see, one “icon” can now be several smaller ones put together, creating almost a scene or photo made out of lines. Incorporating solid shapes behind the icon, placed slightly off of alignment to the main outline, adds even more depth to an element of design that was once known for being ultra simplistic.

3. Bright contrasting color schemes replacing neutrals

Simple or basic color schemes have recently been surpassed by more bold, brilliant color palettes. Whether for advertisements or entire branding identities (like eBay, who recently rebranding their traditional red, blue, green, and yellow color scheme to more unique, eccentric shades which you can read more about here), companies are gravitating away from more plain colors and branching out.

Here you can see even the King of Neutrals themselves (a.k.a. Apple) mixing bright colors into their advertisements, rather than sticking to their usual gray/white color scheme.

4. Gra-gra-gra-gradients

Another trend on the rise for 2018 that can be used to add complexity and stimulation to your designs are gradients. These beautiful color transitions are no longer seen in just trendy tech apps, but have trickled all the way down even into PowerPoint presentations and less “cutting edge” platforms. Nowadays, many companies, such as Cisco, iO, and Sony, even incorporate standardized gradients into their brand guidelines. Color transitions are not to be ignored in 2018.

5. Illustrations versus photography

With the expansion of “free” stock photo sites like Unsplash and Pexels, photography is unfortunately not as desired as in years past. While the trade still exists and is very-much-so worth appreciating, a hunger for hand-drawn illustrations is on the rise. Brands like Nike, Oreo, and IKEA are incorporating illustrations, whether digital or hand-drawn, into their advertisements, websites, and more. These graphics can add a personal touch to large brands that often feel corporate and stuffy.

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6. Creative expression through typography

Just as quality stock photography has become more widespread as of recent, free fonts have been easier to come by as well. As a result, the art of creative typography has emerged in competition. This niche can be anything from digitizing hand-brushed lettering to manipulating a standard typeface into other shapes and forms to photographing objects in the shapes of letters. Below are a few of our favorite examples.

The rise of complexity in design and other art forms probably has Thoreau turning over in his grave. "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity" or "Keep it simple, stupid" can no longer be the motto when working on a poster for a client or designing a presentation for work. This year, make an effort to spice up your designs by incorporating elements like gradients, illustrations, and expressive typography. 

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