Jake Saunders 01/08/2021

A Look Ahead: 2021 Design Trends

Jake is Stripes’ new Art Director, and… we ❤️ him. In his own words, “Some people are able to separate what they do from who they are. I’m not one of those people. I live and breathe design. I dream in RGB and I bleed in CMYK.” Dang, Jake. His love for (and, frankly, borderline obsession with) design has led him to contribute to notable brands like Nike, Nautica, Frye, Warner Brothers, Scholastic, Marvel, Kate Spade, and many more. In a past life, Jake even ran his own printmaking studio. When we grow up, we wanna be just like Jake. 

For better or for worse, 2020 has come and gone. 😅 While we all spent more time in isolation over the last year, we consumed much more media than ever before and witnessed some massive shifts in design and marketing. From print to commercials to social media, many brands and agencies had to rethink their strategies fast, and those changes will continue into 2021. 
Here are some trends we expect to grow and change in the year ahead:

Flat Icons & Illustrations
Many of the biggest brands and companies are using flat icons and illustrations in everything from their website design to social media graphics, and even illustrated commercials. Expect more brands to lean into this trend in 2021 over stock imagery.

Diversity & Representation
With all the movement happening in the world, this is only the beginning of a change that will ripple through all industries, including advertising and design. 2020 saw a massive shift in how brands and creators use models, colors, stock imagery, and more. We expect this trend to not only continue in 2021, but shift from inclusivity to highlighting real people of various cultures, beliefs, skin tones, identities, and ages that tell genuine stories.

Social Media Slide Decks
Slide decks are exploding on Instagram and other social platforms, and in a time where longer messages are more important than ever, it’s a much better way to communicate with your audience than a single-image post with a large caption. Slide decks also seem to do well with the algorithms and get promoted over single-image posts.

Simple Geometric Shapes
2019 and 2020 saw a massive influx of designers using abstract shapes throughout their content creation, and in 2021, we’re already noticing an increase in simple geometric shapes. Expect to see that shift to more rigid geometric shapes but used in more abstract ways like patterns and collages. 

Nature-Inspired Design
During quarantine, we’ve all felt the need to be more connected to the outdoors, and that desire for nature will flow into creative output in 2021. Expect to see more leaves, flowers, trees, earthy color palettes, and more hand-drawn type with fonts that feel more natural and organic. 

Serif Fonts
Speaking of fonts, in 2020 we saw a huge increase in classic serif fonts, especially in the headlines and body copy across the largest brands. Expect that trend to grow in 2021 as brands look to evoke a sense of nostalgia, classiness, and authenticity in their identities.

Here at Stripes we’re already leaning into these trends and look forward to incorporating more into the work we do. 2021 will be the year where designers and creatives don’t just push the envelope but break down boundaries and challenge norms in ways never seen before.