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We all know that things can be fiercely popular one minute and shamefully old-fashioned the next. Design trends in the graphic design and communication mediums are no exception and are constantly emerging, thriving, dying and then re-emerging. This process is valuable as it allows us to look back at what has been done in the past, decide if it still works and use this to inform our design decisions of the future.
Here we take a look at some of the graphic design trends 2014.
Flat Design Trends Continue
2013 saw a big change in the appearance of user interfaces. Previously, most user interfaces were dominated by skeuomorphic design – applications and UI designed to look like real objects – which was demonstrated in a lot of the elements of the Apple iOS interface previous to iOs 7. This was eventually deemed unnecessary and all the realistic elements were stripped away leaving only the very basic, ‘flat’ design. This was intended to make the design look more modern and glossy, with many being of the opinion that skeuomorphs looked dated and tired. It’s true, many people in the design industry have a big dislike for gradients and the like which were prevalent in the older UI designs, and so the move to flat design is some improvement.
There is, however, some debate about when ‘flat design’ becomes too flat and this then raises usability and efficiency issues; something that both Apple’s iOS 7 and Microsoft’s Metro UIs have been pulled up on many times.
Despite the teething problems, it seems that flat design trends are here to stay for the foreseeable future as it continues to improve, adapt and move further away from the shiny surfaces and gaudy textures of skeuomorphism. Searches in Google for “Flat Design” are up 200% in the last 12 months, predicted to rise further in 2014.
Logo Design improves across the board
Simplification towards the minimal is not just occurring in the design trends of user interfaces; logo design is also moving rapidly in the same direction. In the past, for example, it was common for logo designs to feature all sorts of gradients, bevels and embossing effects, particularly in logos for more corporate companies. Recently this has become far less popular and, like the skeuomorphs in user interfaces, are now seen as looking old fashioned and cheaply made.
Badge and button-based logo designs were also booming in recent years but these, too, are starting to decline. Whilst they look pretty and neat, many people simply feel that they have been done to death and, looking back, it seems they’re right. For this reason, these will be avoided more and more in 2014 – after all, who wants a logo design that looks almost exactly like someone else’s?
One fashionable design trend, which has not yet become tired and is, in fact, becoming more popular, is the use of negative space in logo design. Whilst oftentimes being hard to construct effectively, negative space logos are striking, fun to look at and (most importantly) simple. Negative space design joins geometric shape, line art, custom typography and retro scripts in the top logo design trends set to take us through 2014.
The Pantone Effect?
Pantone have revealed 2014’s colour of the year; 18-3224 Radiant Orchid. Whilst this is bound to massively affect both the fashion trends and interior design markets, it is highly likely that it will also find its way into the application of some graphic design trends.
There are so many meanings behind every colour and these meanings can affect the impact, message and success of any design. For example, the colour purple is thought to represent things such as beauty, creativity, luxury, sophistication and fantasy. Pantone have labelled it as representing ‘a healthy glow’ and as being ‘energetic’.
Now, because this colour is this year’s ‘colour of the year’ in Pantone’s world, we can expect to see it featuring heavily in logo design. Pantone does seem to hold a great deal of power and influence over the world of graphics as a trusted source of colour reference, so this year could be very purple indeed, especially in logos for the beauty and creative industries.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with taking a popular colour and applying it to your designs. However, be warned: using a colour which is being promoted in such a way carries the risk of your logo blending in with so many others who’s designers had the same idea. You only need to look at the sea of social media logos of the recent past which proudly feature the colour blue.
Branding is Going Back to Basics
In the past it was far more common for brands to rely more heavily on their logo design to solidify and head up their main brand image. These would usually be very unique and meticulously designed and would be the only or main signifier of the brand. Many companies are now moving away from this method of branding and are stripping the logo design right back until it is almost secondary to the rest of the brand.
An example of this could be the fashion brand American Apparel who has their name written in Helvetica Black as their logo. Using a default font in this way means that the rest of the brand needs to work hard to be identifiable and many companies are using the medium of photography to achieve this. American Apparel uses a very clean style of photography, always with a white or light background and always accompanied by text in the Helvetica typeface. Their brand is, therefore, recognisable even without the presence of their actual logo.
Apple are another excellent example. Their website landing page does feature the logo but it is tiny and pushed to the top, left corner. Apple have created such a recognisable brand ethos through the clean, bold photographic imagery and video they use so that the logo really isn’t needed. Logos have become very much the secondary identifier for many brands and the user experience is rapidly taking first position.
Of course, looking back, it can be argued that this has been happening for years with certain brands. However, more and more companies are now catching on and this way of branding is becoming far more considered and turning into a real trend; we can expect to see a lot more of this throughout the coming year.
What are your thoughts on the potential design trends of 2014? Is there something you’ve noticed start to become more popular towards the end of the year – do you think it will continue to grow or fall off the radar?