New trends in design should excite every designer. Is it a passing fad? An evolution of existing methods? Or perhaps a new era entirely. OK, that last one is a bit on the lofty side.
Still, I kept the idea of a new era of design in mind when I visited New Designers exhibition, focused on upcoming design talent.
The exhibition presents work from some 3,000 hand-picked creatives along with talks, events, workshops and awards. It makes for an excellent place to spot new talent, analyse trends and maybe even absorb a little inspiration.
Three up-and-coming designers stood out to me this year as well as these three creative trends...
Artist & Illustrator
Cat is an artist and illustrator who really impressed me. Her delicate pencil illustrations are excellent, particularly the use of minimal lines and overlapping colour, which gives her work a sense of movement. As well as a clear message in each piece of work there’s also subtle elements that reward the most engaged viewers.
I’ve always been taught that design is nothing without a solid conceptual foundation. Concept is king, after all. After speaking with Mihai it was clear he has internalised this idea. His handle on typography and layout along with use of colour and materials is admirable, but it’s the way he builds and describes a concept that really struck me.
Rachael’s work was displayed in the ‘One Year On’ section of the exhibition; celebrating newly established creatives in the industry. Her portfolio is a mixture of digital illustration and hand lettering, with a contemporary twist. Technically very good, but what really impressed me is confidence to employ unusual colour combinations and textures alongside interesting story elements.
And here are three trends out of the event...
Colour! There’s been a big shift towards the use of bright colour in design across a variety of mediums and the exhibition was full of it. From colour clashing à la DesignStudio, through to the use of colour where you wouldn’t normally expect such as multicoloured threaded chairs. This relatively recent trend is already evolving and I’m excited to see where it moves next.
Multi-disciplined creatives are here to stay. I’m a big believer that designers need to be generalists and it seems like design education programmes (and the students) agree with me. From illustrators with animation experience to product designers creating and hand-binding their own catalogues, everyone seems to be switched on to the value of being multi-skilled.
Concept is (still) king
One trap less experienced designers often fall into is creating work that’s pretty for pretty’s sake. You see people aping on-trend work without understanding why the work was so successful in the first place.
I was pleasantly surprised to see almost none of this at New Designers. There was a lot of conceptual work on display, showing an ability to work with briefs on real products. Not just making stuff look nice. Design is there to serve the reader, not the designer.
I’m not saying this is the end of the specialist. They’ll always exist. But if you’re looking to become a better designer, you’d do well to have a good grasp of various platforms, approaches and techniques so you can be flexible in how you approach briefs.
These events always leave me feeling inspired and excited, as anyone should when meeting other passionate creatives. The talent-level of graduates is rising every year and it’s amazing to see that talent combined with an understanding of how real projects work.
Thanks to the featured creatives for providing permission to display their work and best of luck to all in the future.