Design in 2021: What will influence creative?

The wonderful thing about design trends is that with a new year comes an opportunity to reset and quite literally breathe new air, colour and technique into our work.We’ve spotlighted three themes which we see dominating the creative direction of 2021.

With a year of extreme change and disruption behind us sustainability, optimism and authenticity lead us into a new year where design will continue to play a vital role in clear communication, bringing a sense of understanding and reflection of the human experience.


Sustainability is by no means a new trend but after a year that saw us all spending more time outdoors and reflecting on what is really important, it has ignited an even stronger awareness.

With plane-less skies and empty roads we had a glimpse of a greener world. We’ve swapped busy bars and clubs for countryside walks. In a time of global suffering and economic distress brand responsibility is on every marketeer’s mind from carbon footprints to social inequalities; 2021 will hopefully herald many positive changes. Whether it is visualising Veganuary or implementing eco-friendly compostable packing it’s up to us as designers to set the mood using muted, earthy palettes and natural textures and illustration. 

Above: Horse’s branding and packaging for Good Things Brewing, which claims to be the world’s most sustainable brewery. The company is completely energy-efficient and off-grid, with everything recycled and reused from water to grain.

Above: In celebration of Veganuary 2021 we produced a series of creative ideas inspired by veganism and plant-based diets. You can see more here.

Optimism and Playfulness

With the ever-nearing promise of a global cure to the pandemic, renewed faith in democracy with the American election and the glimmer of hope that a final Brexit deal brings, design in 2021 will be about reflecting this global optimism.

2020 ends with us giving a collective global sigh and looking ahead for positivity. From playfulness to vibrant colour to pattern and type, 2021 heralds a fresh start that represents freedom and inclusivity.

Above: Pentagram’s new identity for Virgin Money

Above: Burger King rebrand – “Rounded, bold, yummy

Authentic Representation

With the anticipation of being able to give a hug or a handshake getting closer, celebrating humanity is more important than ever. One positive effect the global pandemic has had is the space to focus our collective thoughts to what’s really important.

The Black Lives Matter movement is testament to the world taking action on the re-examination of systemic prejudice. Diversity in design is a way to make for a more inclusive future but more importantly to celebrate and inspire people of all cultures at every opportunity. We’ve seen an increase in the use of real people of varying cultures and ages in place of stock models and illustrations. If we want our designs to be honest, unique and authentic then the people we use should reflect this.

If you want to find out how we can use design to elevate your communications in 2021, get in touch with us today.