Inspired by graffiti murals, street, and pop art, a bright and bold approach to design are a growing trend across graphic design, branding, fashion, and interiors.
Milan street style – by Grosescu Alberto, 123RF.
Super bright color palettes and geometric shapes combine for a bold look that helps lift designs out of dull, conventional territory. This heralds in an optimistic and youthful mood in design.
Here we look at five ways the bright and bold trend is translating into different design fields. Discover how you can channel the look in your own work.
Street Art Translates to Print Design
Graffiti and mural art have been an integral part of the outdoor urban landscape for decades. However, this year we’re seeing graphic designers lifting elements of street art and translating them to advertising and editorial work. Street art is symbolic of rebellion and liberal thinking. These associations move across to print design too, helping to create high-impact work that works particularly well for awareness-raising, charitable and political campaigns.
These ‘Art Not Vandalism’ posters by Stephen Rossi are a fantastic example of how to adapt graffiti elements to a print design format. Spray-paint textures and neon colors are combined with minimal typography and a simple, striking layout to create a series of posters that lift street art into a more elegant territory.
Similarly, you can channel the look in your own designs by using graffiti designs in your layouts, such as this seamless pattern from the 123RF library. Alternatively, look out for aerosol-textured fonts and brick wall backgrounds to build up your own mural design on your print layouts.
For more inspiration, look to Paulus Kristanto’s mural art illustrations for X-Design, which also pick up on other traits of the bright and bold trend, including neon colors and bold geometric patterns (see below).
Geometric Patterns Go Ultra-Simple and Bold
Geometric shapes have always held appeal for modernist designers, being a dominant feature of work from the 1950s (see the textile patterns of Mid-Century Modern) through to the 1980s (look to the Memphis Style for some serious retro geometric inspiration). Now geometric designs are experiencing a resurgence, and suddenly feel fresh and relevant after a few decades of more pared-back, minimal design. Instead of fussy patterns, now we’re seeing a preference for ultra-simple geometric patterns that feel youthful and almost childlike.
Last year we saw the geometric trend developing in illustration through low-poly design, but this year and next will see the low-poly trend develop into ultra-colorful, flat designs which feel less app-inspired and reference styles favored by street art and festivals instead.
In graphic and print design, patterns look cutting-edge blown up to large size and rendered in simple, striking color palettes, like these stationery designs for Veuve Clicquot by Officemilano.
In interior design, simple and bold pattern is also starting to make waves. Designer India Mahdavi’s work for the Hôtel du Cloître in Arles France is a funky example of how big and bold graphic patterns can translate just as well to bedheads or tiled floors as they do to print design.
Combine Neons and Pastels for a Fresh Color Palette
Forget creamy neutrals or sophisticated monochrome! The bright and bold trend only looks right rendered in the most eye-catching of color palettes. Throw out the rulebook about avoiding clashing colors—if your eyes don’t hurt looking at these designs then something’s amiss.
The two color themes that define the bright and bold trend are pastels and neons and work best when combined for an even more dramatic effect. Take a look at Ben-Lisa Marion’s album artwork for Eddy de Pretto and you’ll get the right idea for the color direction to take.
Combining pastels and neons is an instant mood-lifter for any layout. They work equally well contrasted against each other in blocky sections or blended into dreamy gradients that evoke sunsets and club nights. Check out this tutorial on how to create a neon-pastel magazine cover that epitomizes this color trend.
Read our tutorial on creating a neon pastel magazine cover!
If the idea of using both pastels and neons makes the minimalist designer in you shudder, try anchoring the palette with black, like in these brand designs for Miami Cocktail Co. This creates an elegant contrast to an otherwise ultra-bright set of swatches.
Blend Retro and Contemporary References
Designers have been looking to vintage references for some years now, moving from an obsession with all things Seventies to a revived interest in 1980s styling and fonts (we’ve Stranger Things to thank for that) and Nineties Saved by the Bell-inspired patterns.
The bright and bold trend is trickier to place in a particular time period. This is because it blends influences from many decades, and combines these with contemporary elements to make something entirely unique.
In interior and furniture design, stylistic traits are lifted from Art Deco, Mid-Century, and Memphis. Then this blend is combined to create a heady mix of optimistic decor. India Mahdavi is spearheading the trend in interior design, with her designs for hotels and restaurants consistently featuring on Instagram feeds.
Furniture fair Design Miami also featured the work of Gate 52, a colorful brand founded by Céline Marcato, which also demonstrates how fusing retro influences together can create something very new and exciting in product design.
While blending multiple decades together can feel more intuitive for interior designers (for example, mixing 1950s furniture with Eighties-era wall art), the approach can translate across to graphic design and illustration too. Try taking an experimental approach to begin mixing your influences. Pair a Seventies-inspired font with an Art Deco pattern, and add in a smattering of 1980s neon color. The result will be eclectic and bang on trend.
Positivity, Positivity, Positivity
Catwalk in Milan, Italy – by Anton Oparin, 123RF.
There’s a distinct change in mood happening in design at the moment. Perhaps to counter social and political uncertainties worldwide, designers are reacting by producing ever more cheerful and optimistic work.
This mood of positivity has rippled across a number of design fields, including fashion, with Vogue declaring 2018 to be the year of ‘feel good fashion’ and championing Crayola-bright colors and cheering rainbow stripes.
Pride movements are now one of the most prominent highlights of many cities’ calendars. Rainbow palettes have found even more relevance for designers looking to promote LGBTQ rights and to celebrate diversity. This began in fashion with the appearance of rainbow flags across numerous catwalk shows, but the theme has spread to graphics and typography too. The official typeface of NYC Pride 2018, Gilbert, was created by NewFest in honor of the late Gilbert Baker, who created the iconic Rainbow Flag.
Taking an optimistic approach to design isn’t difficult. Injecting more color, pattern and youthful spirit into your designs makes for a good start. This brand design for French DIY brand Leroy Merlin by Berik Yergaliyev exemplifies the positivity trend in design. Illustrations are simplified while keeping colors bold and cheerful. Typography is ultra-legible and patterns are used to add visual interest rather than photographs or textures.
Don’t Be Shy…Go Brighter and Bolder!
The bright and bold trend in design is showing no signs of slowing down. This trend is fitting in perfectly with the current mood for all things maximalist and opulent. Across the fashion, interior and graphic design industries, we predict that this will be an ongoing trend. We’ll continue to see neon color palettes, mural-inspired illustration and geometric patterns taking center-stage in designs in the near future.
This is such a fun trend to tap into! Mostly because it can’t fail to make you feel uplifted and cheerful while you design. Get started by downloading a cool geometric pattern or discover the perfect street art-inspired font.