When it comes to what’s popular in the creative world each year, anything can act as inspiration; anything from the colour of the year, all the way to new health and wellness information. With most of the 2023 design trends already firmly in place as early as January, we are here to explore what inspired five of our favourites and find out how easy it is to work with them. We did the research. We did the designs. And we hope you’re feeling as inspired by the visual feast the coming year has to offer as we are.
It’s no surprise that Pantone’s colour of the year is a trend in 2023, but it may come as a surprise that it made its way onto PPM’s shortlist. Over the past few years, colour trends have been muted, traditionally corporate and sterile. This vibrant hue is anything but. Pantone wanted to select a colour that represents strength, fearlessness and optimism, and magenta does just that. More and more, we have become entrenched in the technological world, and Viva Magenta invites us to take a step back to reroot ourselves in what is real.
Specifically, Pantone have created this swatch from the colour of the most precious natural dye in the world. Cochineal is an insect native to South America and their scales are pulverised to make this very special shade of magenta. This dye has been used culturally for generations, and the insect-ness of it is almost primordial. Pantone explains that it invites us to hearken back to the very beginning, to states of original matter, to the building blocks we used to build the world we live in now.
More colour trends: Highly-experimental colour palettes, painted icons, sunset colours without moderation, duo tones, ice blue, natural green
In social media’s relatively recent history, we have been told that a graphic should be as clear and concise as possible. This is because people simply scroll past, and you want them to get your message across whether they stop scrolling to read it, or not. This has resulted in designs with large and easy-to-read fonts. But lately, there has been a shift.
We don’t know if it’s because brands want people to spend more time looking at and deciphering their posts to beat the algorithm, or if we have all simply decided to throw caution (and algorithm with it) to the wind. But what is certain is that 2023 is the year of illegibility. Think copy that is overlaid with busy imagery and fonts that have been distorted beyond recognition, often for the benefit of an underlying metaphor. Distorted typography should be cleverly designed to draw the reader in, and should allude to a metaphor or layer of meaning that goes beyond the words themselves.
More typography trends: Vintage font composites, brushstrokes and calligraphy, comic styles
SURREAL WORLDS AND DREAMSCAPES
Are we concerned that this avant garde style from the post-war 1920s is back? Nope! In fact, we think it’s high time. World War I marked a period of chaos, death, poverty and governmental control in the name of capitalism. While not all of us are at war, there are many places in the world fighting for freedom, or recovering from the effects of long-term armed conflict. In addition to this, we are also fighting against gender-based violence, gun-violence, gang violence, corporate greed, corrupt governments and capitalist technologies. After the Great War, surrealism acted as a cure for mental health. It invited people to open their minds to creative take back as much control as they could and explore their world in new ways.
It was a social rebellion then, and so it is this year. So much of our lives are defined by what we see online, and muted colour trends, corporate-style imagery and too much negative space has stifled us. Creatives are releasing themselves from these constraints by bringing back surrealism and dreamscapes, and spreading them far and wide for all of us to enjoy. This trend is the breath of fresh air we didn’t know we needed online. Embrace the strange, the juxtaposed and the fantastical, because if you can’t escape reality, why not simply create a new one?
More trends for escapism: Hyper-realistic 3D of the unrealistic, technology in nature, photo composites grounded in fantasy,
DARK MODE DESIGN
Anyone else head for the settings button to dark mode everything as soon as they get a new app or device? Us too! There is a lot to love about dark mode, aside from how timeless and, may we say, cool, it looks. This trend is also inspired by the need to improve eye health due to the extended amounts of time we’re spending on our screens. And unfortunately, we’re not here to talk about blue light. There is no evidence to suggest that blue light has a negative effect on our eyes or sleep cycles. But the lack of research to back it up hasn’t stopped people from jumping on the blue-light-free bandwagon anyway. This means that dark mode has become ever-more popular, and we’re excited about that.
While it doesn’t reduce eye strain, dark mode does increase readability, which results in a better experience for those creating and consuming the content in question. Over the past year or two, web developers have turned web design on its head by replacing white-background websites with night-mode options. These new websites are sleeker, sharper and (believe it not) more colourful. They’re bold and they stand out. The results have been so good, that up to 70% of clients with new websites are asking for them to be designed in dark mode. It was only a matter of time before single creative graphics on social platforms followed suit.
P.S. If you’re someone who really is worried about blue light exposure, turn down the brightness of your devices.
More theme trends: Aesthetic asymmetry, urban composites
GRADIENTS ARE BACK
We know nostalgia is informing trends in a big way this year, but have we gone too far by bringing gradients back? That depends on your personal preference, but we can’t help but see the potential. The best thing about gradients is their versatility. They can be used on everything from logos and business cards, to website journeys and Insta-grids, not to mention individual graphics and designs.
Within a design itself, a gradient can add boldness if you need it, but it can also soften a creative. You can use them to draw attention to focal points, or simply to fill a background. And it doesn’t have to be all about the old-school. You can experiment with new and exciting colour palettes and ranges of movement that can feel completely modern and unique. Gradients are back because they don’t have limits, and that also might just be the reason they’re here to stay.
More nostalgic trends: Flat retro, imperfect hand-drawn styles, neon bubble icons
The one thing that all the trends discussed above, as well as all the other 2023 design trends, have in common is that they are rebellious. The brands that take the plunge are the brave, and they will be well-rewarded for stepping out of the suppressing comfort zones we’ve all been wading in for the past 3 years. All of the designs above were created by us, here at PPM. If there’s a thing we understand, it’s creative rebellion, and we’re more ready than ever to push the boundaries for ourselves and our clients along the same road. Click here to request your quote and step into 2023 with us.