5 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2021

Discover which trends will impact photography, editorial design, and typography in 2021

Silvia Fernández Palomar, also known as Silvia Ferpal, is a designer and artist with a well-trained eye. She won the 2019 National Design Award for the young designers category; has worked at companies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Paseo, Designit Madrid, and Designit New York; and is a design teacher at IED.

While Silvia believes that our perception of trends is subjective, when you listen to her make observations, you start seeing how new patterns emerge where you hadn't noticed them before. Her opinion, she says, is based on requests from clients, the projects she’s recently worked on, and her personal judgement. "The important thing about trends," she warns, "is to use them as a guide.

These are, for her, five trends that will make an impact on the design world in 2021.

5 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2021 1
Silvia Ferpal

1. The search for authenticity and honesty

"We don't want to be incredible anymore; we’re now looking to be honest, to show who we are, we want to have solid principles. Maybe the fact that we're all at home working in our pajamas has something to do with it. We're losing interest in what’s aspirational, in perfection, and we're more drawn to what’s authentic. This can be clearly seen in photos. We are attracted to what feels familiar, not impressive locations or studio lighting. Even companies who take quality photos are choosing to create the illusion that they were taken with a cell phone. I am noticing something similar happening in copywriting. We are looking for someone who speaks a familiar language and guides us, not someone who shows off or sells us a product. In short, we want to be shown reality and spoken to honestly.”

5 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2021 3
The brand Minimalism publishes its earnings in order to be transparent

2. Intentional Imperfection

"After years dominated by Swiss Design and perfection, I think the time has come to appreciate imperfection. This new attitude is more of a statement: we are what we are. We see this applied to texts that have intentionally been laid out untidily and words that contain random letters that don’t fit with the typeface being used. We also see this with cropped photos that don’t fit on our screen or in effects and noisy textures that look like something went wrong with a photocopier. This trend is directly linked to the first. We are moving towards intentionally imperfect design.”

5 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2021 5
Emanuel Cohen

3. Systems for combining different design parts

"There is a trend for breaking up whole designs into small parts, which can then be combined with parts from other designs. Clients are investing more and more in these systems and ordering parts. This allows them to spend less and be more consistent in their designs. This has been happening for years in digital design, such as when we order a certain button, a certain menu, a certain paragraph, which is part of a system. However, now, it is also becoming a way to purchase illustrations–check out the platform, Blush. It systematizes creativity and enables clients to have more autonomy.

5 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2021 7 allows you to customize illustrations

4. Retro style and print editorial design

"I’m seeing lots of aesthetic nods to retro style and print editorial design, to the old days of journalism. Words take on a prominent role, typography is experimental, colors are minimal. Often, no color is used, and we see a combination of simple illustrations that could be charcoal drawings and look like they could have been published in The New York Times. This style is about valuing simplicity. has a very retro style when it comes to its choice of typography and illustrations. It is also a way, I guess, of economizing on resources, of not using more than is needed, and staying true to the attitude we’ve been discussing, which I won’t repeat again".

5 Design Trends to Look Out for in 2021 9 is an organization platform that embraces clarity and simplicity

5. Motion and multilayer

"We've grown tired of static 2D. We’re becoming more and more attracted to elements that incorporate movement. Now we animate and incorporate motion graphics into design formats that used to be static, like logos and posters. We also play with layers and layering, overlapping text and images, or overlapping several images like a collage. The image alone is not enough, a single layer bores us. The tools provided by Squarespace respond to this demand."

In her course, Techniques for Developing your Creativity, Silvia shares her original way of approaching the world and finding inspiration to help you detect new trends.

English version by @eloise_edgington.

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