The most exciting design trends of 2023

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While the world falls apart around us there are still so many creatives fighting the good fight and keeping the furnaces of artistry and design stoked with fresh ideas.

But while design might be born from the creative mind, trends are shaped by external forces, so while we can certainly look ahead to 2023 as another exciting one for graphic design and designers in general, trends can only ever be predicted based on what’s happening right now.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to highlight some of the design trends I foresee taking shape and also bring in the opinions of a couple of industry insiders. Let’s dive in then, shall we?

3D design and natural patterns

Seila Sarramian, Design Director at creative agency Free the Birds


As we move into 2023, I suspect that the use of three-dimensional design elements and typography will become extremely popular. Consumers expect more exciting, innovative experiences, and 3D design enables us to create unique and eye-catching compositions that really pop off the page. Additionally, 3D typography can add an extra level of depth and dimensionality to a design.

That said, we’re also going to see a continued trend of natural patterns and textures in graphic design. From wood grain and stone to organic patterns, designers seek to create more natural and earthy projects. Creatives tend to combine this with hand-drawn elements or vintage references as it makes projects feel fresh and modern, whilst adding a nuance of nostalgia.

Punk makes a dramatic comeback


Historically speaking, punk is a movement that’s always thrived in times of societal upheaval and things have rarely been quite as upheaved as they are right now. A rebellious counterculture with roots as early as the Dada movement of the 1920s, punk has never really gone away—it was born on the fringes of society, and there it persists.

In 2023, expect to see a revival of its mass appeal, as everyday people are finding ample cause to rage against the machine. Not only has the exponential wealth gap become more glaring at the onset of a recession, but the death of the Queen has also ignited renewed opposition to the monarchy and its colonial legacy. Aesthetically, punk is all about DIY techniques - scribbled lettering, mismatched fonts, and chaotic collages – a rejection of everything smart and settled society stands for. It is not afraid to be messy because life is messy and there’s a beauty in that.

Sustainability continues to have a major impact on design

Nye Jones, Strategist at Echo


Sustainability is the biggest area to talk about - and it makes sense for us as a business to have a particular opinion on it. While most brands have a handle on the type of sustainable change they need to make, how they communicate that change is a different challenge. While mounting public pressure and government legislation may have sparked brands to act, it’s now brands who need consumers to embrace the change they have created, and we are increasingly finding clients asking how they influence behaviour to onboard the consumer.

In both the innovation and design space, we are seeing the need for transparency on climate action play out literally as brands peel back products and packaging to reveal more of what lies beneath. We see how brands explore alternative materials, embrace an almost utilitarian aesthetic and ethos, simplify their products and packaging as they tackle overengineering, and subvert perceptions with disruptive collaborations. But despite progress on many fronts, brands are still navigating how they drive adoption.

Motion graphics continue to bring movement into focus


Motion graphics have been popping up everywhere lately. And this is largely due to TikTok’s disruptive influence. With brands flocking to the platform in hopes of capitalizing on its highly engaged user base of teenagers and young adults, graphic designers have followed suit.

From social media feeds to UX designs we’ll be seeing a lot more of this interactive trend in future creations this year. So, expect brands to continue building identity through movement in 2023. And take the hint: now’s the perfect time to replace your static images with short-form video content instead. Because a picture can say in a few seconds what it could take an image an hour to suggest.

AI design elements express rather than replace creativity

Iván de Prado, Head of AI at Freepik Company


This year saw the emergence of more and more artificial intelligence (started off by Dall-E 2) to create realistic images from natural language descriptions. So far, these have existed predominantly on web browsers; on mobile, app-based visual remixing has consisted mostly of retouching and enhancing. However, 2023 will see AI-generated art take off in apps, moving the technology firmly into mobile. The use case is clear: entrepreneurs and fast-growing businesses already prefer exclusive images, as a way of standing out from the crowd.

Moving this technology firmly into mobile will see more people creating and editing fresh images for social media. As a result, these channels will start showing more AI-powered content. Mobile users will be able to explore AI-generated image galleries and integrate them into their projects, modify the text or prompt, and create a new image by writing some words and changing the pixel dimensions. Handled wisely, the technology expresses human creativity, rather than replacing it.

Photography gets bigger and bolder


Photography is a big part of design, both online and offline. It's important to use photography that fits the message you're trying to communicate. In the past, this has often meant using stock photos that are flat and lifeless. But now, more and more designers are using their own original photography or finding creative ways to use existing photos.

This could be anything from a full-page photo in a magazine to a hero image on a website. And it’s not just product photos that are being used more, but also photos of people, nature, and other things that can help tell a story or evoke an emotion. This trend is only going to continue in the next few years as businesses try to stand out from the competition. We can expect to see more innovative uses of photography, including 3D images, interactive elements, and even AR and VR. And I welcome it.


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