2019 design trends you need to know about

The passing of the old year to the new isn’t signified merely by the gleeful unwrapping of a new planner (the fabulous Dream Plan Do from The Design Trust for me) but by a pause for reflection. What went well, what could be done better and are the years going faster as we get older?

Politics and design

2018 was dynamic and occasionally worrying as Brexit looms on the horizon and it was fantastic to reflect on the creativity found at The Design Museum’s 2018 exhibition Hope to Nope, a powerful study of politics and design. A personal favourite is Tim Fishlock’s ‘Slogans in nice typefaces won’t save the human races’. It reminds me that there is creativity with awareness in these uncertain times. If I ever do a PhD then I’m sure there’s much research to be found in the volume of visual litter and it’s impact on politics and voters.

Equality and awareness

Me Too was another movement that gathered pace. Gender issues and what it’s really like to be a woman were being explored in design and illustration in 2018. Instagram has inspired imagery around solidarity, resistance and politics from cards by muddpunk on #hifeminists to the unapologetic and powerful placards that featured in marches against Trump, it’s a trend I hope will outlive last year and become a measure for content across the world. Do look up Liora K Photography for her powerful Feminist Series, one of the most compelling projects I’ve spotted. I also loved the Big Issue’s Top 100 feature that was published this week.

Tech and design collaboration

Technology continues to play a part in moving design forwards. Improvements in screen and television quality has enabled BBC Two and Sky to rebrand using patterns, gradients and textures. Gradients are now seen as colour swatches, adding weight and life after many years of flat colours. I’ve particularly loved the organic shapes and textures of BBC Two, completely on message as we become even more aware of our environment and climate.

Design principles

Simplicity is a visual value too. A great example of this is Burberry’s new branding. It’s a label that’s had an identity crisis for several years, with the product copied and devalued. The new look, unveiled in August 2018, is a deliberate move from it’s past and isn’t just a change of typeface but comes with a new name (Burberry, removing the ‘s’) and a new mongram by Riccardo Tisci that plays on the B.

This simplicity creates a functional logo. Logos seemed to get complicated for a while and I put this down to two things. A need to be seen online and ‘design’ apps. A logo is no longer the neat icon that sits on your letterhead and business card. It can be a favicon, the profile image on your social media accounts, a sticker, printed on vinyl and wrapped around a vehicle, maybe a tattoo! This device has to do so much and there are many apps that promise it can but that can come at the expense of clarity and legibility. Less is always more when it comes to visual identities. If Fiverr and apps are platforms where logos are churned out for pounds with scant thought to use, then us designers must show that we are measured and give care to appropriateness, build and professionalism!

Top tips

  1. Pay attention to your branding and customer personas. Are they still accurate and representing the cultural landscape?

  2. Think about language and perception in your communications from memes to words.

  3. Make use of tech but don’t lose sight of good design principles.

  4. Less is more, use storytelling and content alongside design.

  5. Be naughty, if there was a time to rebel then I’m thinking it’s now!