It’s no surprise that 2020 brought with it a need for change. The tumultuous year made us introspect and realize that our ways of living were generally unsustainable. But it was not all dread and doom - in many of us, it renewed a sense of love for nature and for each other, and confronted us with the opportunity to dream of a better world.

These uplifting themes carried on into the new year, pervading our visual realm and introducing a sunnier outlook than last year’s. Optimism is the latest trend and we are here to show you how that takes shape in today’s graphic design world.

Elements of nature

Being cooped up at home for a majority of the past year undeniably made people yearn for the freedom of the outdoors. The grass is always greener on the other side, and in 2020 the greenest pastures were found right outside the front door. When gyms closed, people ran in parks; when international travel was banned, people went camping. When all else was stripped away, nature was our prized escape. This urge was bound to influence our design work. Designers are dreamers, and what better way to make dreams reality than to bring them to life through art?

Judging from what we have been seeing, this trend could appear in the form of earthy tones, natural light, and nature-inspired imagery and patterns. These do not come as a surprise - organic, nature centric design connotes peace and calm, two feelings that we tend to find comfort in during times of chaos. In the wake of 2020, serenity (and the hope for regrowth) are exactly what the doctor prescribed.

Muted color palettes

Muted colours have a low saturation that make them feel safe and comfortable in comparison to their counterparts, bold colours. While bold colours are not bound to disappear from the design landscape anytime soon, color schemes are favoring the more natural aesthetic. They provide a reassuring sensation to onlookers, making their designs seem more approachable and authentic. If serenity is what we are looking for this year, then we will be seeing more of muted palettes in the months to come.

Retro vibes

While we may be looking forward to a brighter future, we still rely on the past as a source of comfort. When the going gets tough, the past can serve as an escape for simpler times. That yearning for days gone by - nostalgia - is a very powerful feeling, akin to wrapping ourselves in a blanket that smells of home. It creates a special, emotional connection with the viewer and as such, we predict we will see it in the form of retro fonts and designs.

Flat Icons and Illustrations

Flat icons and illustrations have been around for years, but it is only recently that they have been making a comeback. In line with the nostalgia of retro vibes, flat icons are a straightforward way of telling complex stories with an added element of imagination. They carry a lot of power in their simplicity, often making them more appealing than other noisy, over-the-top designs.


With one foot in the real world and the other out, surrealism is a manifestation of artistic escapism. It combines elements of fantasy and reality to create designs that challenge our perspective of the world. The idea is to make it difficult for the viewer to split the design into its separate components and thus accept the illusion for what it is. In an already strange world, we expect to see this strangeness mirrored in many designs.

Optical Illusion design

The design industry underwent many changes in 2020, having to make sense and provide for a rapidly evolving world. Designers had to get innovative, and one way in which they began to introduce magic to design was through optical illusions.

Optical illusions are supposed to trick the mind, often confusing us enough to keep us engaged. The longer we look, the more inclined we are to figure them out. At a time when our attention is both limited and in high demand, drawing eyeballs is a valuable skill to have. Illusions are an immensely powerful way to make designs stand out.

3D Design

Like flat icons and illustrations, 3D design is nothing we have not seen before. And yet, it too is making a comeback this year. With an influx of technology and innovation, 3D design has become significantly more exciting than its past iterations. The direction it will be heading in is blurring the lines between the digital and physical, taking center stage with its lifelike visuals. The purpose of these visuals will be to create engaging designs that have a real edge to them.

Voxel Art

You might have seen Voxel art in games like Minecraft, in which every component is built with 3D cubes. Accompanying 3D as a hot trend, we expect that Voxel art will be another big player. It is both simplistic in foundation and nostalgic in its appeal to our inner child. As a highly visual technique with endless potential, designers are bound to take this trend and run with it.

What trends do you predict?

Now that we have given you our predictions, we would love to hear yours! What trends do you see surging in 2021 and which do you believe are a thing of the past?