2019 Design Trends Forecast

Design trend forecasting is tricky because design is both cyclical and ever-evolving. Trends often come back, but when they do, they look a bit different. Further complicating things, in the past five years, design tools have grown more accessible than ever. Consequently, the number of professional designers has multiplied exponentially, and with them we’ve seen a plethora of new styles and variations of styles. With that lengthy disclaimer made, here are some styles I’ve seen growing evermore popular and expect to become (or remain) bona fide trends this year.

Trend 1: Illustration Continues to Replace Photography

It has become almost impossible to find a photography style that’s both visually compelling and unique. With an abundance of quality photography available online for free (here’s looking at you, Unsplash and Pexels), as well as apps like Instagram that make editing a cinch, it is increasingly difficult to create standout imagery. In response to this, brands have begun using unique illustration in photography’s place. Besides adding consistency to the brand (when they adopt a distinct style), illustrations often give the organization a lighter, more whimsical, personality. In 2019, look for illustrations to grow more abstract, diverse in style, and abundant.




Trend 2: Brutalism and minimalism tie the Knot

No serious art director will deny that brutalism is back, and will likely only grow in 2019. However, I expect to see it evolve, learning from the era of minimalism we’ve experienced in packaging and web design. Brutalism is eye-catching and impression-making, but it’s often unclear in it’s message and leaves the viewer with a feeling of harshness. Look for brutalism to ditch some of its more jarring elements and “dress-up” a little in 2019, with more symmetry and balance, as well as simpler and warmer color schemes.


Poster by Peter Chadwich

Poster by Marcin Mlynarczyk

Trend 3: Simple Animations Replace Static Design

Like photo editing, basic animation has become remarkably accessible. Smartphone apps and web design tools that include basic animation features make animating an Instagram photo almost child-friendly. Additionally, a slight animation can really transform an image (cinemagraphs for example). Look for graphics containing a simple animation (even a blinking sign), cinemagraphs, and dynamic illustrations to all continue replacing static imagery in 2019.


Tumblr: Butteryplanet


Trend 4: Typography takes an Even Bigger Center Stage

Mobile has become the dominant medium for media consumption, and the average person’s attention span continues to plummet. Combine these variables and any organization realizes how essential it is to make their message short and sweet. “Stop the scroll” has become the mantra of online communicators. Hop on a subway car in NYC today and you’ll see 5 different campaigns all featuring simple, often witty, one-liners. With this growing emphasis on rapidly-digestible messaging, that typeface you select becomes even more important. In 2019 look for this focus on typography to merge with the trends of eye-catching color, 3D design, and richly textured hand-drawn fonts.


Seamless Subway Ad

Crate Studio

Becca Clason for Betty Crocker

Trend 5: Eye-catching Color Combinations

Hand-in-hand with the trend of eye-catching typography, 2019 will bring an increase in eye-catching color combinations. We’ll move further away from the era of neutral-toned simplicity, instigated largely by Apple, and brands will continue to embrace bold colors as they did in 2018. Expect gradients and duotones to remain in popularity, but also look for more dramatic color combinations. Finally, expect Pantone 16-1546, known as “Living Coral,” Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year, to play a leading role.


Apple. Illustrations for new iPad release


NYC Mural by Jason Naylor

Trend 6: Mixed Media and Collages Go Viral

With the growing popularity of illustrations and the demand for eye-catching visuals, I imagine we’ll continue to see the growth of interesting combinations of styles. In 2018, the two hottest versions of this we saw were 3D realism combined with flat elements, and more recently the boom of social media elements (emojis, text bubbles, etc) combined with photography. As with most trends on this list, this mixed media approach creates eye-catching contrast. I expect this approach to grow more popular and for new derivatives of this style to really make a splash in 2019. I expect some of 2019’s most viral designs to emerge from this style.


Side by Side, UK



Trend 7: Minimalism Matures.

Trend number seven is my favorite, and it actually encompasses all the trends above. As we continue to move away from the era of minimalism made popular by Apple and Google, minimalism isn’t disappearing, but maturing. The design community is holding onto the virtues of minimalism and evolving it, making it more interesting. The aforementioned dwindling attention span of viewers obligates organizations to keep the directness of minimalism, but in 2019 designers will begin adorning minimalist designs with more interesting detail, inviting the viewer's gaze to linger a little longer. Here’s how it will look: eye-catching typography will begin to occupy patterned backgrounds instead of flat colors. Solid shapes and letters will give way to textured and organic feeling elements. Custom fonts will give eye-catching headlines more character. Finally, animation, whimsical illustration, and bold color treatment will bring life to the simplicity of minimalist layouts. The goal here is to keep the focus of the design simple but add richness to it’s presentation.

Minimalism is still the name of the game, but in 2019 let’s see how much fun we can have with it!

Taylor Swift’s album "1989" fits this trend perfectly

Detailed 3D neon lettering like this example from Sarawuth Pamoon available on Creative Market is a perfect asset for use in this style of detailed minimalist design.


What designs trends do you expect more of in the Church this year?

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