Design Trends 2018: Bold moments, glitches, layers and diversity

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I'm not a designer, lacking both the patience and the creative impulse (at least when it comes to images), but design is something I, and almost everyone else on this planet, appreciate on a very primal level. It's the first thing we notice in almost all aspects of our lives and it's the thing that often sways us in one way or another when making an impulse decision.

It's also a word, and an industry, that encompasses so much, so it was honestly quite difficult to keep this one under a few thousand words. I settled, however, on 8 of the trends that I feel best reflect the kind of work we feature on Creativepool and the kind of creative individuals that call it their home away from home.

Examining these trends are a number of insightful industry insiders from various corners of the design world. Designers, creative developers, content creators and more shared with me their thoughts and feelings on what would transpire within the ever-changing world of design in 2018. I feel that a fairly wide spectrum has been covered here, but please feel free to add your own trends in the comments below if you feel there have been any glaring omissions.


Moments” in Place of Products and Visual Identities

Colin Greenwood, Experience Director at Wolff Olins, on the moments of customer and employee experience that will a create lasting impression on clients in 2018


At Wolff Olins, we think that 'moments' are going to be a big thing in 2018. As an industry, we seem to be waking up to the fact that the touch-points, products and visual identities on which we lavish so much love and design craft are the means, not the end. What matters are the moments of customer and employee experience they enable. That's what creates a lasting impact for clients. As our very own Robert Jones said; “Brand is the thoughts and feelings about a business in the minds of customers and employees. Everything else is branding.” It feels like the time is right for this kind of thinking. Traditional brand activations - splashy, fleeting, isolated – have met deep insights about the erratic and emotional way we make decisions (e.g. the 'peak-end' rule), plus the systematic, customer-centred approach of service design. All of a sudden we've got the tools and approaches to bring together the utilitarian and emotional in order to think about customer and employee experience 'in the round'. In their excellent book, “The Power of Moments,” Chip and Dan Health make a powerful commercial case for creating what they call “defining moments,” moments which go beyond 'pothole filling' in order to elevate the customer and employee experience. This is progressive, pragmatic stuff. We're excited about pushing beyond this in order to create moments which are finely calibrated to leave not just any old emotional impact, but the unique stamp of your brand, and to do this at speed and scale across complex businesses.


The Glitch Effect

Liam Creek, Graphic Designer at Champions UK plc, on how image corruption could become desirable


A damaged or corrupted image effect applied on purpose to artwork is usually referred to as “The Glitch Effect.” This gives any artwork a unique, edgy look when applied correctly. The Glitch Effect has grown in popularity recently and there are a number of ways to achieve this effect on artwork, whether it be editing the code of the artwork file or manually manipulating the image in Photoshop using the liquefy tool as well as various filter and textures.


AR and AI Augmented Design

Tom Youel, Creative Content Developer at AR app developers Zappar, on how, with AR, brand design will move past traditional restraints in the near future


It’s fair to say that in the world of AR and immersive computing in general, it’s been an explosive period like never before. AR, the tech that takes the world around you and adds virtual content on top such that it looks like it’s actually in the real world, has moved from being predominantly made by technologists towards a collaborative pursuit involving creative content developers, 3D artists and graphic designers. AR sits at the intersection of tech and design, combining powerful computer vision with new and existing UX principles, taking users on immersive journeys that simply were not possible before. It’s these user journeys and experiences that AR has had the biggest impact on in 2017, interesting and aesthetically appealing packaging designs that have been around for decades can be augmented to create entirely new experiences that transform the way people connect with brands and products. Brand design and storytelling no longer stop at the edge of a poster or the back of a crisp packet, creatives now have the ability to remove traditional design constraints and completely re-think the user experience. For brands, this means they can tell their story in limitless space and engage consumers in memorable and meaningful ways, and for designers, it means an entirely new canvas to experiment with and write the rules of this new creative canvas.

Lee Allen, Associate Partner at TH_NK, on how AR and AI will play within design in the next 12 months and further


It’s still early days for AR but we’re starting to see some cool and useful applications from start-ups like Magic Leap and the big tech companies like Google and Microsoft who are heavily investing in this space. The recent launch of Apple’s ARKit is changing the game and making AR accessible – I’m excited to see where this goes. There’s no doubt that we’re moving into a 3D world and we should all be preparing for how we design this new world, now – as designers, agencies and clients. Expect to see lots of acquisitions of firms with 3D capability in the coming year. Artificial intelligence (or more specifically, machine learning) will also play within design. Progress in AI will move our tools from passive to assistive and it will have a massive impact in helping designers explore different solutions quicker. AI will also give us the ability to make more intelligent contextual interfaces, as well as create new ways to solve old problems. E.g we’re excited about Computer Vision - the ability for computers to interpret the world, which will completely change the way we search and discover.


Layered Typography Inspired by the Dada Period

Martyn Garrod, Creative Director at Carter Wong, on the rebellious typography of layering


Layering isn’t a new typographic trend and has been around for a while, but 2018 will see much more of this rebellious typography. Like the majority of movements, ‘layered typography’ is a style that is inspired by the past - the Dada period. Following their ‘no rule’ rule, the typography is turbulent and protests the traditional guidelines of how type is to be used. Dadaist would use many different fonts, layer typography and punctuate and break words in unconventional ways. In most cases, the visual impact was given more priority over the legibility of the text. With more contemporary colours and clever use of font matches this trend has been producing some really stunning outcomes. Including the beautiful yellow label for a Pilsen beer by Studio Ludco. But where this trend really comes to life and excites me is when it is physical. The use of hanging letters and shadows adds another dimension and depth. Now we just need the perfect brief to explore this.


Diversity will help Designers speak to their Audience

Rebecca Swift, Director of Creative Insight at Getty Images, on how diversity has influenced the world of design in 2017 and how it will continue to influence creatives in 2018 to better represent the diverse audiences they are speaking to


For me, the best stories of this year have been around the concerted effort of advertisers and brands to address the issue of diversity properly. We’ve seen Sephora use real staff members in its ads, Missguided showed models with stretch marks, Unilever made an Unstereotype Alliance with the UN to eradicate outdated stereotypes in advertising, and there are many more brands that have expanded their model choices beyond the ‘traditional’ this year. With the evolution of tech, we have been able to study issues at a scale that hasn’t been possible before, and it’s helping to push the diversity conversation even further. It was brilliant to see the Geena Davies Institute using data to call out Cannes Lions on its gender bias in award-winning advertisements in June, and I’m looking forward to seeing the impact this has in 2018. All of us who create and select images for a commercial purpose, or to illustrate an editorial piece, have the ability (and responsibility) to better represent the diverse audiences we are speaking to. It’s been great to see this happening more and more in 2017.


Bright, Bold Colours and Shapes

Terri Burton, Senior Graphic Designer at Champions UK plc, on how strong colours might overtake more muted colours in 2018


Strong, bright colours are seeing a rise in popularity as opposed to more muted, neutral tones when it comes to helping branding stand out from the crowd. There is also an increase in request for metallic elements that give a “wow” effect to any project. This is a trend looks like it will make an impact next year too. Geometric designs have also been very popular through 2017, and this is set to continue into 2018. However, next year will likely see more “wavy” designs coming through, as opposed to the more traditional geometric shapes seen in design.

Rory Berry, Creative Director at Superrb Studio, on how gradients and bold fonts will be all the rage in the next 12 months


I think you will see brighter vivid colours, and greater use of gradients for 2018 (even though they’ve been about for a while already). Sites like Spotify are already embracing the gradients. Its a good way of keeping the page size down with having large gradient backgrounds will small floating imagery. This, in turn, keeps performance on point and creates a better overall user experience. Bold font styles that help strap lines and product copy stand out will also be a big deal. Sites like that use bold fonts to point out key USPs and making headings stand out to users that are just skimming through the content.


The Increasing Importance of the Designer

Lee Allen, Associate Partner at TH_NK, on the increasingly strategic role that design will play going forward


I’ve seen the role of the designer evolve so much over the past 5 years as exec teams have finally woken up to the importance of design in any business - it now plays a much bigger, more strategic role and that’s brilliant to see. Knowing this, the big consultancies have been swallowing up design firms to plug their skill gaps, but crucially brands are now increasingly building in-house design capability and leadership. The race for the best talent is on, and agencies will need to up their game in terms of how they nurture talent, but also be smarter in how they augment their design capability with that of clients. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a designer.


The Information Storyteller

Craig Taylor, Senior Data Visualisation Design Manager at Ito World, on storytelling through design and data


2017 has been a great year for design. We’ve witnessed a boom in animated visualisations and an increased appetite for data representation from a 3D perspective. But what use is this data, beautiful or otherwise, if it’s not digestible and ultimately usable? Enter the information storyteller. There is now a huge emphasis on effective storytelling through design, conveying often complex information as simply and as engagingly as possible to a variety of audiences. Designers are thinking outside the box with new, bespoke creations – the muted palettes of old ditched in favour of vibrant colour transitions paired with minimalist yet bold typography. Refreshingly, we’re finding that we don’t have to choose fashion or function in the new design landscape of the ambitious and unambiguous. GIFs have become the perfect complement to a beautifully rendered visualisation, condensing and conveying its message in an incredibly effective way. GIFs are now our go-to format for social media - short, snappy and informative. So what does 2018 hold for information design? Greater accessibility to new technology will undoubtedly see an increase in the number of designers using animation as a means of storytelling. And with AR and VR advancements ushering in the prospect of simulated exploration of virtual models it’s important that we remember to keep information and data at the heart of what we do.

Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. If you have a few spare minutes, check his thoughts on the Design Stories of the Year in 2017 and check back with Creativepool later in the week for more insight from industry insiders on the top trends in Tech and Advertising to come our way in 2018.



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