2016 Graphic Design Trends 2016 Graphic Design Trends

Ten Design Trends from the Frontlines

September 15, 2016
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

Design trends come and go. While some trends we can happily salute as they leave (anyone remember the "Rachel" hairstyle?), some trends bring great visual interest. This is especially true for businesses, where design trends can help set businesses apart. The following slides were presented at the PRIMA NC conference held at A-B Technical Community College in Asheville, NC.

  • The Bold and The Beautiful
    Bold + Playful Type

    Let the wallflowers stick to the fringes and get bold with your type. This throwback to the graffiti and bold pops of color from the early 1990s is back, and it is a rad way to make your message stand out from the crowd. Design trends are also big on the hipster, modern-vintage vibes, pulling in old school serif type and using it in a bold new way. 

    2016 Design Trends - Bold and PLayful Type

    2016 Design Trends - Bold and Playful Type 1

  • Graphic Pop

    What is duotone? Basically duotone is an image with just two colors (hence "duo"). It is a great way to create striking contrast and incorporating color into a design. It is a throwback to early printing days, and can give designs a fresh look.

    2016 Design Trends - Duotone

    2016 Design Trends - Duotone1

  • Getting Simple WIth It
    Flat 2.0

    What is flat, and how can it be 2.0? Flat design has been around for years, and is based around minimalism. Flat design killed drop shadows and the appearance of raised page elements (like buttons). But flat design fell flat when it came to what users had come to expect from designs, especially online. Users need some hints as to what they are supposed to do with a design. In comes Flat 2.0. Flat 2.0 brings in hints of 3D design without going full drop shadow. It brings back some gradients and borders to make graphic elements stand out from the background.

    2016 Design Trends - Flat 2.0

  • Back To Basics
    Geometic Shapes

    Going along with Flat 2.0, striking geometric shapes make a big visual impact. Not only are designers incorporating the bane of 8th grade into illustrations and backgrounds, but you'll also see different geometric shapes in print products. Geometric shapes maintain a sense of security and structure, but throw convention out the window.

    2016 Design Trends - Geometric Shapes

    2016 Design Trends - Geometric Shapes 1

  • Deceptive Depth
    Isometic Perspective

    Remember those trippy graphics of stacked boxes and you couldn't quite tell if it was coming toward you or away from you? That's isometric perspective, or representing a three-dimensional object that is actually flat. Isometric perspectives bring together geometric shapes and the flat design trends.

    2016 Design Trends - Isometric Perspectives

  • The Big Picture
    Large Images

    Using high quality photography is nothing new, and advances in both the online and print world have made it much easier to produce striking visual designs using large images. Captivating photography draws people in to a brand, where text takes a back seat.

    2016 Design Trends - Large Images

      2016 Design Trends - Large Type

  • Into the Great Wide Open
    Negative Space

    Want to stand out from the crowd? Stand out from everything by letting a simple design breathe. Negative space instantly tells the viewer on what they should focus, and it is an old standard for designers. 

    2016 Design Trends - Negative Space

    2016 Design Trends - Negative Space 2

  • Forward to the past?
    Retro Inspired

    Retro can change based on your generation, but here we mean the vivid design elements and color palettes of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. 

    2016 Design Trends - Retro Inspired


  • Rainbow Connection
    Vibrant Colors

    Leave the greige at home. Vibrant colors are a big trend in graphic design. Following the lead of the Flat 2.0 movement, vibrant colors introduce life and energy into otherwise minimalist designs.

    2016 Design Trends - Vibrant Colors  2016 Design Trends - Vibrant COlors2

  • Putting the art back in Graphic Arts

    Watercolor is a huge trend in both graphic design and the family consumer market. It could be because it is so dramatically different than the flat design movement, or it could be because the soft color transitions create a more personable tone. You'll see watercolor in illustrations, backgrounds, and even brush-style scripts in display type.

    2016 Design Trends - Watercolor  2016 Design Trends - Watercolor2

Adam Bennett

Written by:  |  September 15, 2016

Adam is the president and founder of Cube Creative Design and specializes in private school marketing. Since starting the business in 2005, he has created individual relationships with clients in Western North Carolina and across the United States. He places great value on the needs, expectations, and goals of the client.

See Adam Bennett's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/adam-bennett