A meta-study of design trends in 2022
For the first edition of the year, I read all the design trend reviews I could find, and from a murky sea of predictions I gathered and summarised all the things that are most likely to happen. Meet your meta-study of the design trends of 2022!
How to read trend articles
When you read this article as well as any other teen reviews, I suggest keeping a few things in mind.
For a start, trends are not tied to a calendar. They never have been. It is simply more convenient to do reviews once a year.
Each trend passes through three main stages of development:
- ◍ Emergence and gaining popularity
- ◍ Standard, genre, style, mainstream
- ◍ Gradually going out of fashion
Each trend has a different length of this cycle: from months, to decades. For example, neomorphism emerged and died out within virtually one 2020 year. It did not survive. And the trend on minimalism has been around for many years now, and it is still relevant in many contexts.
In this review I have tried to include trends that are in the first two stages, that is, both new and those that are in their heyday.
Design trend cycles are influenced by societal and economic processes, reflecting social and economic trends. This means that large and influential trends are long-term. That's why this overview starts with technological and cultural trends before moving on to design trends that depend on them.
A proper understanding of trends will help designers understand exactly what to say in their communication, and how to say it in order to be understood.
Remember also that the future is uncertain, and any reviews are written by people, and people . Add the words "probably", "maybe" and "in this person's opinion" to any "it will be on trend".
I also advise going back to past trend reviews to see what came true and what
didn't. Our review of trends from a year ago will help.
Now to the point.
Technology defines what design deals with, sets the boundaries of what is possible. New technologies make it possible to push the boundaries so that new aesthetics appears or the old one rebirths on a new basis. Technological and scientific advances inspire us. Plans to colonise Mars, for example, inspire many architects, urbanists and industrial designers to find new forms and aesthetics in their fields.
Metaworld. It is not just another hype, but a new digital medium and a long-term trend. Like the internet or messengers in its day, the metaverse opens up new opportunities and new ways of doing business. However its long-term path lies through inflated expectations and a valley of disappointment. This year the meta-universe will may bring more marketing bollocks than real benefits.
The meta-universe is not going to evolve along the lines of Zuckerberg, who wants to lock us all in virtuality, but rather along the lines of fleshing out reality with virtual things, moving towards mixed reality. A scenario of increasing our mobility in reality, not escape into virtuality. The growth of AR will overtake VR.
For now, the laptop and smartphone remain the main gateways to the metaverse, but the first mass-produced AR headsets are likely to appear in 2022 or 2023.
Blockchains and NFT platforms will continue to grow - they too are at the technological heart of the meta-universe as
it is imagined by today's visionaries. People are beginning to realise the value of buying virtual things. Skins and items in games, virtual clothes, virtual homes and items for them are all new markets.
AR logos, virtual 3D shops will appear in spaces similar to those of Mynecraft or Decentraland. AR filters and shopping lizards will also be developed, allowing you to test and customise products before you buy them online.
Artificial Intelligence. AI technology will continue to improve and will be introduced more and more into work and business. Areas of interest to us:
- Generative everything. In 2022, AI will help creators generate graphics, photos, music, animation. Generative or semi-generative NFT collections will appear daily.
- Data fabrics. Automated data handling in business
- Decision Intelligence (DI). Advanced AI systems will be applied to business decision-making
- Autonomous systems. There will be physical and software systems that not only operate automatically, but also and can learn independently under the influence of the environment and change their own algorithms
Improving the quality of graphics. A long upward trend in the quality of 3D graphics in all applications, from logos and illustrations to film games. The trend is based on the increase in the amount of computing power available to us.
The knowcode industry will continue to grow. Knowcode tools will be used in more and more codes and products. The approach of launching Nocode First products, i.e. without development, but creating the product on nocode platforms, is likely to become increasingly popular.
The metamodern will be on a rise and supplant the postmodern.
Meta-irony and meta-references will be increasingly common in design and culture.
A case in point of this trend, incidentally, is the fourth Matrix, a meta-irony about the entertainment industry, taken to metasarcasm. A three-hour mockery of the fact that the Wachowski sisters were forced to make a sequel to a complete trilogy. After all, to continue an entire story is only to ruin it.
history - only to ruin it. So they ruined it. So, we get a horribly but diligently written secondary story (but with a hidden agenda), bad dialogue and directing and filmed with cheap magic tricks and imposing special effects. And, most importantly, they sincerely communicate all of this to the viewer both throughout the film and in the post-credits scene. (but a prequel or spin-off would have been better, of course)
Pandemic. Yes, two years after start, it's still here. There is hope for its coming to the end this year, but the weariness of people from it is more noticeable today.
This year a more pronounced "hangover effect from covid" will set in, the economic and social consequences of long lockdowns, mass vaccination, the introduction of electronic passports and ongoing protests in developed countries against all this will begin to fly in.
Millennials and Zetas are now the two most numerous generations represented by paying people. It is their preferences that will be, basically define the cultural and visual landscape of the twenties. That said, these are two rather different generations, which means that the aesthetics and essence products more explicitly targeted at one of the two generations should differ.
Hybrid telecommuting and the technology associated with it will continue to advance. The pandemic has opened many people's eyes to the simple fact that in the creative industries it doesn't matter where you sit, it matters what you do.
The trend towards results-oriented collaboration will continue because nobody likes sitting in front of a webcam in Zoom for eight hours a day. People like doing the work they have to do and then go about their own deal.
Audio messaging tools will be more common. It is more convenient than videocalling because you are not required to "look good".
More Remote- first teams will appear. Services for virtual whiteboarding will continue to grow. The number of remote positions for UX designers will grow.
Remote user research will become standard practice.
The economics of attention. The amount of attention spent in the digital world, will grow. The smartphone, social media and mobile app markets will continue to grow, as they have for many years before.
A notable phenomenon could be the boom in social commerce coming to us from Asia. Zoomers are increasingly trusting Influencers rather than brands (zoomers invented 'couch shops', yep).
A typical example is the Chinese Influencer Li Jiaqi, A typical example is Chinese influencer Li Jiaqi, who sold $2 billion worth of merchandise in one day on his streams.
Ethics in all things is gradually becoming the new norm. Important directions:
- More and more people realise that the most profitable business is the one that is good for people (human-centric)
- Shortage of skilled personnel will lead to an increase in HR brand importance as a way of attracting creative workers to the company through
- The transmission of its internal values Mental health, self-love, harmony between career and personal life
- Mentors, coaches, mentors. The demand for mentoring services is predicted to reach record levels: according to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the number of certified professionals alone has grown by 13,200% in 10 years. People want - at least in part - to shift the burden of decision-making to those with expertise in their chosen subject
- The "eco" prefix will continue to increase the average bill
Hacking routines. The rise in popularity of flexibly customised tools for self-organisation: note taking, to-doing, projects, databases, content or code libraries, automation of certain processes. The kind of services that help all workers in the digital economy.
Visual and aesthetic trends
Just what are commonly referred to as 'design trends'.
3D is everywhere. The trend for three-dimensional graphics has been developing for several years now, and it's not going anywhere. On the contrary, it will become more sophisticated
and diverse. This will be facilitated both by the growth of compute capacity of our devices and by the development of available tools.
Here are briefly the key trends in 3D graphics:
- Glass and crystals
- Holographic colouring
- Mixing 3D and 2D graphics in the same frame
- Candy, delicious colour schemes
- Three-dimensional cartoon characters in branding and illustration in digital products
- Organic shapes with high quality materials and textures three-dimensional logos
90s and 00s. As said above, millennials and zetas are now the most numerous and affluent generations. And the noughties are their happy childhood or adolescence. This means that anything associated with these decades will be understandable to them and capable of evoking nostalgia and warm feelings.
The popularity of this years aesthetic has been noted by the authors of many trend reports.
By the way, here are our special issues with design reviews from the nineties and noughties. Highly recommended.
Psychedelic in the digital space. The aesthetics of psychedelic reinterpretation, with the availability of any colour, 3D and cool animation. Vivid colour schemes are back in fashion!
Vibrant new generation gradients. Multicoloured, with added noise, unusual transitions, non-linear shapes, frosted glass overlay. Animated.
Custom illustration as a replacement for photos and 3D in branding and the web. In particular, the man-made aesthetics of the illustrations. Handmade accents on the web, like arrows and underlining.
Expressive and experimental typography. Fonts with a twist, a squiggle. With some kind of striking feature, an accent that strongly differentiates the typeface from its peers.
There will be a lot of antiqua, including accidental.
Anti-design and brutalism. When everyone follows the same design rules, it becomes fun to break them. That's what anti-designers do, breaking many visual norms and rules. They have been doing this for years, and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come.
Minimalism is always relevant, this year too. If it's on fleek, of course.
Trends in web design
Claymorphism. A fresh three-dimensional aesthetic for the web and interfaces, with a light and friendly three-dimensionality in which the interface seems to consist of "inflated", i.e. slightly three-dimensional elements.
Glassmorphism and glass in general will become mainstream.
Scrolling enriched with animated interactivity and effects, often three-dimensional a more engaging way of
telling stories than static articles. And the easier they are to produce, the more they will appear.
Variable interactive typography will become more widespread.
The animation on the web will become even more and more skillful and of higher quality.
Animated smartphone mocaps that show interaction with the app or website.
Trends in UX, products and interfaces
Smartphones and mobile social media will continue to dominate in the market for human attention. Mobile apps, mobile versions of websites (and their speed) will continue to be important business tools.
Design systems and design systematisation in general will continue to evolve and bring more benefits.
The number of digital designers will continue to grow, also thanks to the burgeoning edtech sector. UX commoditisation will continue, i.e. good UX will get closer to something mandatory, something that is the default. Interface quality standards will continue to rise.
Total Experience (TX) is a new term for a business strategy that combines the disciplines of Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience (EX), User Experience (UX) and multi-experience (MX). TX aims to increase customer and employees confidence, their satisfaction and loyalty. Organisations will increase revenues and profits by achieving adaptive and sustainable business TX results.
Intelligent data visualisation. More and more interfaces are based on user data, hence literate, clear, vivid,
and highlighting important data is important and valuable to users.
Personalised colour schemes that can be customised manually or generated from the user's wallpaper. This means that interface elements can no longer communicate their state in colour alone. For differentiation, something else (shape, size, transparency) must be used.
Outline icons will become the default choice. Fill icons and other styles will be additional options.
Gesture-based interfaces will evolve. The proliferation of smart watches and bracelets, as well as developments in the field of smart gloves, are helping this.
The accessibility of interfaces is becoming an almost mandatory requirement. It is no longer decent to ignore accessibility standards.
Trends in logos
The Meta logo, in my opinion, perfectly embodies many trends of the new year, including AR, three-dimensionality, animation, bright colours, holographic effect, symbolism.
And I also find it incredibly ironic that the best, trendiest, smartest and most beautiful rebranding of 2021 was done by the world's nastiest IT corporation.
The three-dimensionality of logos. There is a sense that a good logo in 2022 will either be flat or three-dimensional, and that anything in between these two extremes will look unacute.
Logo animation can be a mandatory part of the brand book.
Black and white logos as the main version. Often such moves have been seen in major rebrands of 2021, so
this year, you can expect them in the medium and small business segments.
Symbolism and minimalism instead of realism. The simplification of old logos has not yet dried up.
The best trend overviews for 2022
Here I've collected links to the best reviews I've drawn on for this issue. They will help you dive deeper into the in the theme of this year's and last year's design trends: