2021 – 2022 Design Trends

Graphic design trends are forever changing from year to year, even month to month. As a designer I keep a close eye on design trends both from large creative agencies and other freelancers. Here’s an outline of my top 3 predictions for design trends over 2021-2022.

1. Reconnecting to Nature

We’ve all been getting out and about on our daily walks more than we would normally thanks to social distancing and lockdowns. Some of us have discovered walks near to home that we never knew existed, while others have realised that life doesn’t resolve around the office or the TV. We’ve been forced to slow down and take in a new appreciation of the natural world around us, and this will undoubtedly have an influence on design trends for the foreseeable future.

New businesses based around lifestyle, wellness and health are emerging and many of these require brands that reflect values based on wellbeing, nature and organic design. Established businesses have recognised this trend and jumped on board too by rebranding to appear more ‘natural’.

Pukka reconnects to nature through their packaging, brand identity and updated product offering. Photograph: Pukka Herbs

It is interesting to note here that the UK has seen a recent increase in newly-registered businesses and, according to Companies House data, 59,358 more new companies were created between June and August 2020 (compared to the same period in 2019). This was around the period in time when the UK was recovering from the first lockdown.

2. Hand Drawn and Illustrated Styles

Related to the paragraph above, illustrated design styles are becoming more popular for both startups and established brands. Illustrated graphics appear more approachable, friendly and natural looking than any alternative graphic. This trend for hand drawn simplicity will have been driven by the popularity of apps such as Procreate and Adobe Illustrator Draw which are designed to be used on iPad with an Apple Pencil. These illustration apps help blur the line between hand drawn and vector graphics as they can be easily transferred onto our computers and edited as required. Gone are the days when we had to use a scanner to get our hand drawn illustrations onto our computers with often questionable scan quality.

Blood Cancer UK uses a heart-shaped letter ‘B’ in a hand drawn style in it’s logo designed by Pentagram
World Wildlife Day illustration made using Procreate
Mountain illustration made using Procreate

3. Sustainable Packaging and Eco Design

Packaging is being developed with sustainability in mind, brochures will be printed on recycled paper, FSC® certified materials are becoming extremely common, and print is being developed in such a way that ensures it can be recycled after use. Many businesses of all shapes and sizes are doing what they can to become more sustainable: whether this is due to genuine environmental concern, good business tactics or simply because it’s the ‘fashionable’ thing to do. Either way, increasing sustainability can only be a good thing in the long-run.

The graphics on the printed materials themselves are designed to boost it’s sustainable appearance even further; matte brown packaging is popular, while natural themes such as leaves, neutral colours and even plain fuss-free designs are becoming common. This all comes down to the fact that businesses want their customers and clients to know (or think!) that they are choosing a sustainable and eco-friendly product; graphic design can be a powerful tool to communicate this.

The Body Shop were one of the first major brands to prioritise recyclable packaging for it’s products. Not only is their packaging recyclable, but the designs appear eco-friendly too through the use of greens, hand-written text and minimalist styles. Photograph: The Body Shop

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