For the fifth year in a row, we’re excited to roll out our predictions for the digital and graphic design trends that will dominate the webscape in 2019. At a time when so many conventions are being flouted on the world stage, today’s design thinking and consumer tastes reflect the desire to find a sense of order and beauty amidst all the chaos. The design trends of 2019 do exactly that: asymmetry, jarring colors, and exaggerated proportions combine to create an aesthetic that celebrates glitches, ambiguity, and excess. As digital citizens, we’re in for a year of design that embraces rule-breaking as the new normal.

 

design trends 2019

 

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Breaking Down the Design Trends of 2019

 
Trends don’t come out of nowhere. Rather they develop as a response to the changing tastes and needs of consumers. In 2016, digital design warmly embraced the medium of the screen with highly practical elements like flat design, stackable and responsive templates, and mobile-friendliness. In 2017, we saw these same concepts take on a more lively and dynamic character with playful colors and shapes. And with a turn towards self-awareness, the dominant trends of 2018 featured bold aesthetic contrasts that mirrored the ever-blurring distinction between the digital and the analog.

Closing out a decade that is sure to be remembered as a turning point in human history, the design trends of 2019 are as disruptive as the times they were born out of. Here are eight trends you can expect to be seeing a lot of in 2019:

1. Brutalism

If Craigslist, memes, and street wear were to fuse together to create a digital design movement, the result would be brutalism. Brutalism is perhaps best known as the architectural style beloved by Soviet civil engineers in the mid 20th century which gave rise to many imposing, spaceship-like concrete blocks. Today, digital design is drawing from the brutalist aesthetic with results that are just as visually imposing.

brutalist design trend

Hopelessness, illegibility, pixelation, chaos: Brutalism in a nutshell. Source: HuffPo’s “Poor Millennials.”

Where brutalist architecture favored steel and cement over more luxurious materials like wood, digital brutalism is similarly utilitarian in its use of ultra plain fonts. But in a departure from its predecessor, today’s brutalism is self aware in its absurdity. It rejects basic tenets of user-friendliness, readability, and good taste and instead revels in nostalgic HTML-elements like marquees and oversized cursors. With purposefully pixelated images and elements that layer like pop-up ads, brutalism can sometimes have the appearance of a website that didn’t load properly. This digital design trend has been embraced as a “glitch aesthetic.”

2. Complex Gradients

Gradients and duotone aren’t going anywhere in 2019. Gradients have come a long way since Microsoft Office WordArt, evolving towards more harmonious color palettes and subtler usage. They’ve been embraced by some of the biggest players, from Instagram to Spotify to Apple, but are useful and accessible for just about any brand. And gradients are breathing life into illustrations that would otherwise be flat and uninspired.

gradients design trend

Subtle gradient shading by Leo Natsume.

3. Abstract Geometry

Colorful shapes, amorphous blobs, building block sculptures — one of the dominant trends of 2019 is like going back to your pre-school art class. Digital designers are stacking and overlapping geometric forms in playfully abstract ways to create sites that are simply delightful.┬áThis trend lets users’ imaginations run wild and can signal positivity, creativity, and openness.

abstract geometry design

An abstract digital sculpture by Netrix Digital.

 

4. Evolved Patterns

Though patterned backgrounds were hugely popular in the early days of the internet, they fell out of fashion as flat design and more minimalist layouts became the norm. But bold and colorful tiled patterns are making a strong comeback, both as backgrounds and as fills for illustrations. The cluttered busyness of these patterns can be tempered against white backdrops or with other harmonizing elements.

evolved patterns design trends

Colorful chaos with patterns on Nab.au.

 

5. Retro human illustrations

Perhaps 2019 is the year we finally say goodbye to generic, cheesy stock-photos of impossibly smiley office workers. The latest trend in illustrating people uses exaggerated proportions and inhuman colors to create delightfully unrealistic figures. Whether the look is more cartoonish or cubist, creative interpretations of human figures will be popping up all over the web in 2019.

retro human illustrations

Being unrealistic has never looked so good. Source: Zendesk.

 

6. Isometric Illustration

Using realistic perspectives but impossible proportions, isometric illustration is proving to have great staying power in digital design. These delightful miniature scenes are an excellent strategy for story-telling and conveying a sense of community. A welcome departure from the staleness of flat design, these 3D models show more attention to detail while at the same time staying abstract enough to be appropriate for almost any brand.

isometric design

A beautiful day in an isometric neighborhood. By Lyft.

 

7. Broken Grid Layouts

Stackable, drag-and-drop templates have met their match. In 2019 designers are thinking outside of the box with broken grid website layouts that zig, zag, and overlap. If that sounds chaotic to you, it really isn’t. Though different elements may not be arranged symmetrically, the look is often anything but cluttered.

broken grid layout

Order in asymmetry with the broken grid layout. Source: Bff.co

Broken grid layouts artfully merge brutalist tendencies with minimalism. They bring harmony to distinct page elements, add depth to an otherwise flat designs, and allow for plenty of clean, negative space.

8. Modern Collage

Magazine and newspaper collages may be a thing of the past, but multimedia collages are only becoming more popular online. Incorporating elements from many other current design trends like geometric shapes, illustrations, and gradients, collages are more than just the sum of their parts. They fuse distinct elements to convey abstract concepts and atmospheric settings.

modern collage

An interactive, digital collage and illustrated timeline of American music. Source: the Telegraph.

 


Which design trends are you beginning to notice? Which trends are you ready to see die? Share our graphic and let us know!

 

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