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2021-22: A Year of Design Trends in Review

21 Dec 2021

To round off our blog for the year, we’re taking a look at some of the trends in design we’ve observed over the year, from 2020 styles on their way out, to some established in 2021, to those emerging for 2022.

Retro Prints

The vibrant, abstract 80’s patterns are more popular than ever, giving packaging a lively gift-wrapped feel. However, springing from the 80’s revival over the last couple of years (thanks to popular TV shows embracing the retro) we’ve also seen the 90’s comeback – perhaps stemming from the fashion world, but the haphazard, eclectic style of the 90’s has come back in print and packaging, and having been heavily inspired by previous decades of trippy design, 60’s and 70’s prints are there too.

The Nouveau Type

In 2020, we saw a lot of bold, choppy semi-serif type in premium products, and extended typefaces leaving no space untouched. This year, Nouveau type is all the rage – slender stems with slants and ligatures sporadically breaking out. While harking all the way back to 1920’s art-nouveau, this style of typography seems to be a playful collaboration of old and new, by taking a classic ornamental style – rendered with a digital age approach.

RavING ABOUT colour

Judging by Pantone’s colour of the year, current colour trends don’t stray from the overall resurgence of 90’s culture. Design this year has taken the rave kitsch neons, sparkles and iridescence and appropriated it into something more classy and considered, which shows quite a different mood change from the very scandi modern interior ochres and greys from 2020 – a not-so subconscious symbol to us that we’re all done with furniture, and instead embracing the slightly whacky detour from our very carefully considered newly-decorated homes.

Overview of this years trends featured in design blogs

Simply Craft

The ‘craft’ aesthetic still very much lives on, however – we’ve seen the previous trend for heavily ornamental Victoriana press replaced with a more stripped back, minimal approach, with a new focus on elegance and subtlety for a maturing audience.

Behind the Trend

We are certainly spotting the move from Gen X culture to Millenial, as those having grown up in the 90’s now turn thirty, it’s their turn to share a little nostalgia.

The move towards New Luxury (a topic we discussed in a previous blog post) continues, as older ideals of ‘premium’ are disrupted, and the consideration behind the design is valued higher than the classic ideals of perfection, craftsmanship and expense. This also means a greater emphasis on sustainability, especially while the subject of climate change dominates the news, pressuring a new tax on plastics arriving in the new year.

As the market for craft reaches its peak, consumers are more engaged and knowledgeable, which allows craft producers to step away from some of the heavily decorative classic craft cues, and take a more contemporary approach.

Notes on trends...

Trends are interesting to observe, as they represent the zeitgeist and can become an interesting part a brand. Trends serve to lead the way in new ways of thinking, and can also leverage a development in technology, which is exciting and can be worth embracing. However, using trends for trends sake doesn’t make a successful lasting brand, and we sometimes have to consider whether our taste and the relevance of the elements we use in our design are informed purely by the brands story, or whether we’ve been so heavily exposed to current trends, that it influences our taste and better long-term judgement.

That said, we admire the diversity across different brands, and we notice that while some thrive off trends, others remain true to their original aesthetic. As with everything, our advice is always to keep a healthy balance of the two, building flexibility into brands through strong core elements, that allow brands to engage and move with the spirit of the time, while remaining consistent and true to origins.

We’ll be back in the new year to see what 2022 brings to the design world. Have a very Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year from all at Library Design Studio!

James & Lizzie



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