Design Trends

Design Trends 2018: 28 leading designers, creative directors & illustrators tell us what’s inspiring them for the year ahead

Find out 2018’s biggest trends across graphic, data, digital and UX design, creative direction, branding, illustration, VFX and VR.

Many designers expressed an industry wide calling to improve diversity at the start of 2017, and not just over the gender divide, but the gaping social and ethnic divide also. We saw significant improvement as a result throughout the year, but there are further expectations for transformation and equality following social movements such as #metoo. The creative community was still coming to terms with Brexit and Trump’s inauguration this time a year ago, but this year there are new external impacts on the design community.Instead of asking leading creative professionals from all sectors to somehow predict visual trends for the year ahead, we unpick what changes are expected in 2018, what is hoped to not happen, how work will be different in form and function and what key skills will be learnt in the year ahead.

This year we’ve decided to focus on mainly UK-based creative and art directors, UX designers, freelance illustrators, lead designers, data viz designers and agency founders. Twenty-five practitioners explain their hopes to improve accessibility of technology, risk-taking with creativity, the merging of digital and analogue methods, designing with small budgets for small screens, the power of animation and coding, a massive return to craftsmanship, and of course, the question on many people’s lips, how artificial intelligence and machine learning will influence art. There’s lots to be excited about.

Most of us will want to put politics behind us, but trends that most affect our practice aren’t just Pantone’s colour of the year – but the highs and lows of deep cultural, social, business, political and technological changes that happen in the world around us. This includes diminishing of art education, encouraged sustainability, the rise in freelance designers and what that means for agencies, an increase of illustrators as influencers, how we use new smart design tools, and most importantly, how we all stayed untied. This, along with what our clients want and what possibilities we have to engage our audience with.

We’ve asked some of the smartest people across graphic, digital and immersive design, illustration, creative direction, advertising, VFX to tell us what they think – and you can’t help but be inspired by what they say.

This image is from our guide to 2018’s visual trends. The colour palette for this feature is based on Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2018, Ultraviolet.

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