Where We Are Headed: Five Graphic Design Trends for 2017

2016 has been a year of ups and downs. As always, the events of the world have influenced the world of design. With that in mind, here are five design trends we predict will make an impact in 2017.

The return of illustration

After being pushed to the side for many years, what with computers taking over and quick turnaround design becoming increasingly in demand, illustration (and illustrators) are finally coming back in a big way.

Custom illustration, by way of lighthearted line drawings, has already made inroads in corporate brand books. We predict we’ll see a return to full page illustration and hand drawn type. Think “fern bar” menus and Banana Republic catalogs from the early 80’s. You heard it here first.

The end of the ampersand

If there’s any trend that shouldn’t be long for this world, it’s the (over) use of the ampersand. It seems that every restaurant with an artisanal bent that opened up in the past decade or so incorporated a conspicuous ampersand into its name and logo. While this may have set the originators apart, they’re now just lost in a sea of copycats.

Retro inspiration sticks around

Along with illustration and despite (our predicted) death of the ampersand, plan to see other retro design influences linger a while longer. Done right, vintage-inspired design can be impactful and impart a sense of honesty and permanence.

In uncertain times, we tend to crave the traditional and the familiar. Nostalgic touchstones from our youth are comforting, like warm mashed potato. Retro design provides this in spades.

Cinemagraphs everywhere

Better experienced than explained, expect to see cinemagraphs all over the web in 2017. Usually presented as a .gif, a cinemagraph is an otherwise still photograph in which a small, repeated movement occurs. An example would be an image of a lake, where the water ripples, but otherwise, the scene is calm.
Cinemagraphs are a relatively easy way to add visual excitement (and design cred) while keeping files sizes—and page load times—low.

Bright colors in unlikely places

After a long run with sober color palettes, look for bright colors across the corporate design spectrum, even in industries like banking and insurance, which have traditionally eschewed bold hues. As these industries adapt to become more consumer driven, expect their branding to more closely align with retail trends.

ABOUT Ryan Bahrke

One of Wordsmithie's senior designers, Ryan has more than 15 years of experience in creative direction and management, working with companies like Google, Quantcast, RSM, Navigant, Starbucks, and Ace Hotel. Ryan is the principal of Auslander Creative in Denver.