A lot has changed in the last twelve months. Styles and trends are coming and going at a rapid rate and keeping a finger on the pulse is frantic business. But with every passing year we’re seeing the world of design grow weirder and more wonderful, with creatives pushing boundaries further than ever and constantly evolving in pursuit of their next great visual.
What will be cool? What will be not-so-cool? What the heck is retro-futurism and how can we design for everyone? These are just a few of the questions we’ll look to answer in the first annual Nice and Serious Trend Forecast.
Tired of your favourite brands stripping out all of their best bits in the name of blanding? Thought so. Well let us introduce you to the fiercest foe of the minimalist, the maximalist. No more distilling things down to their simplest forms, maximalism embraces excess and richness and amplifies everything in a living, organised chaos full of clashing patterns, jagged edges and cornea-melting colour. In an increasingly attention-poor world, we’re going to see the mayhem ramp up as brands push to be as bold, authentic and unique as possible.
The Pixel Strikes Back
Peak pixel hit in the mid-2000s with the likes of eBoy and Habbo Hotel, and Microsoft Paint gave us the ability to build our own isometric worlds one square at a time. Fast forward to 2024 and we’re seeing the return of the humble pixel, albeit in a much more contemporary (and serious) guise. It’s part of the continued rise of retro-futurism that encompasses the Y2K aesthetic too, and we’ll see illustrations and icons broken down into their simplest pixel components, high contrast patterns and super janky typefaces.
Another style that borrows from the 90s and 2000s is mega-functional utilitarianism. It’s not necessarily minimal but a removal of any superfluous elements for more focus on the key content. Think of the functional graphics we attribute to manuals, tools and vehicles, and then transfer those to the world of design. Big serif typefaces, bold photography, high contrast colour combinations and old school screen commands, visualisers and waves are the cornerstones of the utilitarian style.
Stop, Generate and Listen
Like in 2023, we’ll see the continued use of AI to create controlled or fully random visuals, and a whole load of other scary stuff too. It isn’t going away, nor is the debate around it, so it’s up to us to work out where and if we want to draw the line, and how we can harness its creative potential, not just as a time-saving tool. Whether it’s generating endless patterns for a dynamic graphic language, building coded parameters to create stylised worlds, or dreaming up mascots based on future-frogs (see the epic work of Boldtron), AI is going to continue shaping the world of design, whether we like it or not.
In an age where it’s becoming increasingly hard to find a truly unique name or tagline, copywriters and designers are pushing the boundaries in their search for new ideas in lexicology and the world of word play. For better or for worse, it’s inevitable we’re going to see people muck around with words even more in 2024. It could be as simple as cutting a letter or two or finding something really wonky, weird and wonderful, but be prepared for more fluffle, mvmnt, razz, oobli and noerd.
Imagine it’s 2003 and you’re playing Age of Empires on the family computer, remember how good the music was? Now it’s 2024 and you’re listening to an hour-long mix of Medieval Dr.Dre. Coincidence? We think not. We’re seeing a resurgence of interest in ye olden days, from podcasts that dissect the steeped and fabled history of Westlife’s bootcut jeans, to beautiful design that draws from Norse, Gaelic, Chinese and Greek mythology. Creatives are delving back further and deeper in pursuit of that hidden fact or nugget of rationale to ground their idea, and finding more wholesome and intriguing hooks and visuals as a result. Seemingly as a reaction to the frantic attention-grabbing nature of TikTok and reels, our desire for more slow consumption and entertainment is also building, and folk-core is going to be a big part of it.
Silly for the sake of it
The world needs more humour right now and as creatives we’ve got an amazing platform to make people smile or just go, what the hell is that and why do I like it so much? We’re going to see more weird, more cute and more goofy, basically anything that actively doesn’t follow the norm. At the end of the day, these are the original and unique ideas that will shape next year’s trends.
My Words Do Jiggle Jiggle
If you can get past that horrible riff on Louis Theroux’s rap debut, you’ll see that the world of type is going to get even funkier in 2024. We’re realising more and more that by creating custom typefaces that we can squash or stretch, we can add so much expression and emotion to a word, way more so than with the out-of-the-box fonts we’ve got at our fingertips. Physics engines, motion and generative tools will push typography to the next level, a place where it can become the leading light and key visual all by itself.
Designing for EVERYONE
This isn’t so much as a trend, but a must for any designer wanting to contribute to a fairer and more inclusive creative world. Consumers are increasingly calling out brands that don’t place accessibility and inclusivity at their core, and we all need to keep developing our working processes until these two things are hard-wired and intrinsic to the way we work, and not just an afterthought. So show how the tagline works in braille and Urdu, double-check those text colour contrasts and get members of every community round the table, because if we start designing for everyone in 2024, our work will be so much stronger as a result.