2021 Design Trends

Design trends 2021

After months of quarantine and isolation brought on by the global pandemic, we look at 2021 with high hopes and cautious optimism. 

Being such an atypical year, in which time seems to have stopped, there have been no major changes in the trends of 2020, which will continue to dominate in 2021,  in fact we can say that some of the trends were influenced by the pandemic and the needs it created in all domains. 

In the third quarter of the year began to appear, very shy, new influences whose dominance will be felt gradually in 2021.

Even if most trends from 2020 will continue to influence the design scene next year, we will try to keep only those that will dominate in 2021.
Main Trend of 2021

3d is definitely the trend of 2021, because it is found in all branches of design, and the novelty is that it is starting to be used in UI, which until now has been dominated by flat design.

The more and more frequent adoption of 3d is also due to the fact that we have at hand some new software, very easy to use, some even free (Figma for example, it is free for freelancers and has some plugins that make the use of 3d user friendly ) How many of us were not discouraged when they opened complex programs like C4D, 3D Studio Max or Maya? Now with software like Figma or Dimensions CC, any designer can quickly learn how to create beautiful 3d scenarios. These softwares are perfect for a 3D beginner.

1.Tran Mau Tri Tam Box. – ⏳Time Tracking
2.Jan Reeh SDMK web design - 3D
3.Tran Mau Tri Tam Collab. — Landing Page Kit
4. Mike Website design / 3D & 2D Edition
5,6,7.CLV Madrid Bankia Humanismo digital
8.Cabeza Patata Studio Shape & Rhythm
9. Vivian niuVikiiing macOS Big Sur 3D icons
10. Romain Briaux Specify : Illustration

Another factor that will lead to the more frequent use of 3d is the imminent release of Apple’s Big Sur, the new operating system for Mac. At the time of writing, Apple Big Sur is not yet released and does not even have an announced release date. Big Sur is currently in Beta. The Public Beta version (there is a developer Beta as well) became available on August 6th.

You're probably wondering how the design world will be influenced by this release. Well, Apple showed us a sneak preview to have a glimpse at how the new Mac interface will look like. The most important changes in design are the introduction of 3d elements (icons), areas with transparency and the abandonment of grey shades.

1. UI / Ixd Design
2. Illustrations
3. Motion Design & Interactions
4. Graphic Design & Printing
5. Packaging
6. Trending Tools
1.Ui & IxD Design
1.1 App vs Mobile web

We can agree that in 2021 a website that is not “mobile first” is completely obsolete. In most branches of business the best experience comes if you are using an application, so these businesses focus on their development and implementation. Online stores, social media platforms, trading platforms, etc., will choose to migrate their customers to apps for a better customer experience and to increase their conversions.
Mobile Website of Mobile App? How do you know which one is better for you or your customer?

According to studies, users prefer mobile apps more than mobile websites. Platforms that are paying attention to web based services, will find themselves at a disadvantage, both in how they present themselves to their users and in development as well.
According to Forbes.com, mobile users spend almost 90% of their time on mobile apps and just 10% of the time on browsers/ mobile websites.
Apps have disadvantages as well, like higher development and maintenance costs.
1.https://skilling.com/eu/en/  Mobile vs App (Product Design: Nick Collins, Visual: Mihai Baldean)
1.2 Colors on White Surfaces 

Colors are one of the most important visual elements of UI design. They can highlight your content and reinforce your brand’s style. A color theme should be designed to be harmonious. It should help the UI elements and surfaces to be easily distinguished from one another.

The surfaces are the tiles, cards, sheets and components that are placed on top of the background. These cards are white and have a smooth shade that creates a floating effect.. Usually the background is white or a very light grey.

If you don’t want to spend time choosing your color palette, there are websites that can help you by generating beautiful and vibrant mixes. Some of these websites are https://flatuicolors.com/ or https://colorsupplyyy.com/app/

1. Grace Saraswati Health Fitness Mobile App UI UX Kit
2. Tran Mau Tri Tam Analytics - Mobile App
3.Anahit Avetikyan Data Management System
4. tokitoshi メ COREFLIGHTS — Mobile App
5. Kostia Varhatiuk 3D Wallet App Exploration
6. Prakhar Neel Sharma Tenant App Case study
7. Wahab Live Game Streaming App​​​​​​​
1.3 Widget sizing

IOs 14, is here and it’s bringing some new changes that will affect all UI Design.
Widgets come now in three sizes: small, medium, and large and you can smartly rearrange them between app icons. A designer must create a widget icon in all 3 styles, so the user can choose which one to use. Each size of the widgets lets you display a different amount of information, so you need to be clear and display the right content. Remember that larger widgets allow you to show more data and information.
1.Varya Panyukova IOS 14
2. Alex Muench Apple Widgets UI Kit for Figma
3. Aleksey Bondarev iOS Widgets for iPhone
1.4 Animations & Interactions

Animations are an important part of an app's design and user experience. These days, a design seems unfinished and static if it doesn’t incorporate an animation. There are many ways to create them and here are some of them: 
JSON (stands for Javascript Object Notation) takes your images & animations and renders  them into a code. The advantage of JSON animations is that it is a fraction in size compared to a GIF and it supports full transparency ( no BG needed).
A couple of years ago, the guys at Airbnb have created a tool named Lottie, that makes small animations really easy, using JSON files. Lottie is an open-source library for iOS, Android, and React Native that renders animations in real time. If you haven't tried it yet, you should definitely give it a chance.
1.5 Custom made 3d Icons

So far we think everyone has realized that 3d is an important category in design. Now it influences the Ui segment more than ever. 3d icons are the new UI trend in 2021 so if you are bored with the flat icons, which have dominated the Ui scene in the last decade, then you can try the 3d ones. The final project will look fresh and modern.
1. gary liu App icon using Adobe Dimension
2. David Kovalev Apple not flat
3. https://www.outliercreative.com/
4. Alexander Shatov Instagram 3d Icon Concept
5. Udhaya Chandran iOS 14 widgets
7. Seunghyun Kang Skeuomorphism?


2.1 Thin Outline in Illustrations

We predicted this trend last year in our Trend Guide. Illustrations in 2020 were dominated with this particular style of drawing and will continue to be in 2021 as well. Because this trend seemed to take off especially in the last semester of this year, we decided to call it the main trend in the category of illustrations for 2021.
1 & 2. Odd Bleat * Revolut - Animated Loops
3.Nahuel Bardi Mask
4. Andrew Archer Dunhill — Japan National Football Collection
5  Calvin Sprague Personal Illustration Archive 3
6 & 7.Rafahu The Psychotoons II
8 & 9.Meme . S t e m
9 & 10.Nahuel Bardi Styleframes for animation
2.2 3D

The fact that 3d has taken by storm the design scene in recent years is no surprise. 3D has evolved a lot and is presented with some very polished illustrations that impress the viewer. The colors used are strong or pastel, depending on the message they want to convey. The difference from previous years is that 3d illustrations are more minimalist, as if inspired a little by the simplicity of flat design.
4,5 & 6.Titi Lyao 3D illustration
8.Tran Mau Tri Tam Ghost 👻– Sign In
2.3 70’s & 80’s Cartoons Inspired Illustrations

Remember The Ninja Turtles, He man, ThunderCats or Inspector Gadget? Well if you feel nostalgic, let us give you some good news, because this style returns in force this year and will continue to dominate in 2021. This classic style of cartoon drawing is using outlines, simple shapes with just a few details.
1& 2 Fago Studio Bonniers Book | A trip to the future
3 & 4 Xulia Vicente Various drawings
5. Qu Draws Limit Cafe x Gallery
6, 7 & 8.еspoon tar - -.-- .-.. --- .... и други
9.MUTE / Nathaniel Rueda 30 DAYS 30 CHARACTERS 2020
2.4 Crazy Shapes & Colors

If you like to doodle then you will appreciate this unique technique of creating illustrations. Although at first glance it may seem unfinished, all these forms are very well thought out and put into composition. Overlapping shapes and strong colors create bold illustrations that can inspire any viewer. 
1. Nate Williams ᏝᏗᎴᎩ ᏰᎥᏒᎴᏕ by Nate Williams
2 & 3.Lucas Wakamatsu Animals - Prints
4. Bernardo Henning Quartz
5 & 6 Totoi Semerena Tropical ✦ Geo V
7.Totoi Semerena ✧ X E C ✧
2.5 Illustrated Video Presentations 

We have mentioned this trend last year as well when we predicted the trends for 2020, but being such an important tendency we decided it was worth mentioning again.
1.Giordano Poloni Punto Poste Da Te
3. Motion Design & Interactions

3.1 TikTok & Instagram Reels

Reels are a short and entertaining video content format. These short videos can be used as effective marketing strategies. With the launch of Instagram Reels, an alternative to TikTok, big companies have started using this tool to promote themselves and grow their reech. These videos are no longer just made as a pastime for teenagers, but the big brands pay agencies to deliver such reels to them. If you’re already using social media for your business, it may be worth giving Instagram Reels or Tiktok a try.
3.2 Classic Cartoons

Yes, the cartoons of our childhood are hot in 2021. We have said it before and we repeat it, so obviously, this genre is also found in motion design. Take a look at the selection we made.

2.Zombie Studio USE ELO
3.Wakana Yamazaki Animation "Dim sum time"
4.Dale Edwin Murray UNINTERRUPTED

3.3 Ultra Realistic 3D VFX

VFX or Visual Effects, combines existing footage with computer generated imagery to create realistic scenes. They are animations that are inserted into a real to life scene, previously recorded with a camera. With the advent of numerous, more user-friendly software, VFX began to be more accessible and more common in videos and short films. The realism that can be created is incredible, something we only dreamed of a few years ago.
1.He Yang, Chiu HoTrack DongYuko Hung 吉列 · Gillette - J20剃须刀宣传视频

3.4 3D Illustrations 

To be honest, this is not a new trend, but it is so important that it is worth mentioning again. 3d influences all branches of design so strongly that we can say that it dominates almost any digital creation in 2021.With the implementation of augmented reality in more and more applications, sites or software, 3D will gain more and more ground. As we mentioned in recent years in our articles related to design trends, we see how designers combine 3d with photography or 2d, creating an eclectic design. All these techniques, combined with motion, create a unique final concept.
3.5 Animated Logos

Animated logos have been present for several years but now they are very visible and have taken by storm everything that means branding, so they deserve a mention this year as well. A logo is the first thing we see when entering an app, so it should be memorable using only a symbol or a typeface. Combining the logo with a smooth and sleek animation, you can achieve a memorable outcome for any company.
1.Nikola Matošević for Barrage Travelspot logo
3.Oleg Coada Kote | Logo animation
4.Yup Nguyen aiera - logo animation loading
5.Fede Cook COOK- Logo animation
6.Fede Cook & - Logo animation
7.Vadim Carazan for Carazan Brands Consultly logo animation
8. Fede Cook Q - Logo animation
9.Andrea Binski ASD Logo mark and grid explanation​​​​​​​
3.6 Augmented Reality & VR

AR and VR are in themselves a very vast field that has its own trends, so we will review some tendencies that you will definitely see in 2021. With the Covid19 lockdowns, companies have invested in AR technology to bring their product to their customers. Galleries have used VR and AR to allow users to browse their artworks easier. At least 100 million users were expected to utilize AR-enabled shopping technologies in 2020 (Gartner) and this prediction was made before the lockdowns all over the world. In the future we see AR used on a large scale, helped by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, implemented in all fields, from medicine or art, in commerce, customer service or navigation.
1-4.Peter Tarka, Maciek Janicki Google IO 2019
3.7 Fast Paced Presentation Videos

Viewers retain 95% of a message when they see it in a video, but only 10% if they have to read on-screen text (Insignia). Whatever message you want to convey, informative, inspirational or demonstrative, you can choose to use a fast-paced video to do it. See below, in our selection, what we mean.
2. Skilling Join. Trade. Grow. Campaign, Design Firm: Belong
4. Graphic Design & Printing

4.1 Big and Bold Typography

Typography is the most important element in design! A skilled designer can produce a visual identity using only typography. Typography is important to build a message, establish a strong visual hierarchy, deliver information and overall to create a great experience for the user. Big and bold typography has existed since the beginning of design, so it’s not new, but it’s very important. Even if designers use kinetic, distorted, 3D, animated or static typography, imposing large letters are, and will always be, a hot trend in design.
1. Andrew Footit MyType - Vol.2
2. Quim Marin Studio Yeah!Club Redesign
3.Mario De Meyer Isotype 2
4.Anna D Displacement Maps and Actions
5.Quim Marin Studio SOMA Brewing
6,7.Sebastian Schubmehl KYIV TYPE - book

4.2 Geometric shapes 

It's something unique in creating a complex design using very simple shapes. Geometric shapes have been found in visual art since the beginning of the last century, so we can't say that they are a new trend. In 2021, graphic design, whether it is posters, prints, packaging or brand identity, will focus on geometric shapes.
1-2.Toormix Design Agency Kariiou – Branding Project
3,4,5. Jerry-Lee Bosmans Printmaking Challenge V2
6.陈 俊贤 文具海报 / Stationery posters
7.Xavier Esclusa Trias Poster Collection/Retro Brands/Videotape

4.3 Thin Outlines & Lineart

Super thin lines are hot, we have already decided that :) so we will mention this trend in every branch of design, showing how easily it is suitable for each of them.
1.Tolleson Design Dictionary.com: A World Beyond Words
2.Toormix Design Agency Institut Ramon Llull – Rebranding & Visual code Project
3,4,5.zimm wang Oval monsters/Character design/Graphics & poster design
6. Pablo ⚡️ Espinosa Tall Shorts Film Festival
7.Khang Ng Emotional Recovery Project
8.陈 俊贤 五观 / Five - Observe
5. Product Design & Packaging

With Covid-19 dominating the news in 2020, product packaging has developed an even more vital role. Consumers show concerns over food contamination, driving to 
increased packaging demand. Food delivery and online shopping also increased this year. These are domains that rely on packaging and a lot of their brand awareness is done through this. 
1Mitsutaka Nakao , Miz Tsuji Park Hyatt Kyoto Takeout Packaging
3.Baianat  Akelni Brand Design
4.Cheng Leeeee Mr. Huang's saltwater chicken
6.Micael Micmas Moccia | Brand Identity
7.Baianat Ghallab brand design.
5.1 Sustainability

We now realize that COVID-19 has had a major impact on our planet, so the packaging industry must take measures to decrease the impact on the environment. Businesses must use biodegradable materials like paperboard, bioplastics, or materials made from corn, potatoes or mushrooms. Traditional plastics retain a high number of bacteria, so sustainable materials have another plus.
1.Lavernia & Cienfuegos The Troupe
2.Shaivalini KumarSupernova DesignAsavari Kumar Bantu Vegan Branding & Packaging
3-4.Jieru Chen Side - Ceramics Product Design and Packaging 

5.2 Custom made illustrations 

A well thought and unique illustration can create a great story for your brand. You have to make thoughtful choices about the graphics that will best communicate your brand’s story. They have to be meaningful and give consistency to the brand.
1. HumanEduardo Ramón Hombre Cometa
2.Thomas Hedger OFFBLAK Tea
3.Sanh NguyenInSpace CreativeDuy Trịnh,  Huy Pham Elena Phung 12 Spirits - OfDarkness™
5.Jordan Mandes Packaging design - Maroccantea
5.3 Storytelling

This is definitely not a new trend but it’s more actual than never so we decided it should go in this year’s trend list. If you sell a product, invest in good packaging design that tells an engaging story about your brand. Product packaging has the power to inspire us to purchase a product. From the copy that goes on the package to the font, material, size and shape, all of them have to create a unique experience when the customer is unpacking the product.
1.Cubic OrangeVladimir Guskic Fernanda Costa CBD Coffee - Branding & Packaging
2.Chad Roberts The Preservatory
3.Stef Hamerlinck Rascal tastebuddies
5.4 Interactive Packaging

People love their phones, so packaging must adapt to keep the customers engaged. Smart Packaging is creating new experiences, allowing the customers to interact with the product, creating brand awareness.  From QR codes to AR experience, these are just some ideas to create a “smart-tech” packaging. 
Product design is also very influenced by tech, most new products revolve around the idea of ​​a smartphone and how a product can give you an interactive experience.
1.Heinz Ketchup
4.Max MysechkoArtemiy Drobyazko Qvarta Studio Kiev, Ukraine​​​​​​​ MINI PHA | LAMP & CHARGER | PRODUCT DESIGN
5.Enterfun _official ENERGY TUBE HAND WARMER
5.5 3D Printed Packages

With the revolution of 3d printers, packaging with unusual shapes began to appear. This process facilitated the printing of packaging with strange shapes, the designers being able to give free rein to their imagination. The less pleasant part is the still high price for such a package, compared to the classic box. This procedure is very useful for mockup preparation and it offers rapid prototypes with lower costs. 
6. Trending Tools

6.1 Substance 

This new tool from Adobe is here to make 3D available for any designer. Substance is the complete suite for object texturing and material authoring for your 3D projects. The suite is actually an ecosystem that addresses designers, stock creators and illustrators. The downside of this new suite is that Adobe offers it as a different subscription as the Adobe Cloud, so for a beginner or a junior designer the monthly cost will be pretty high. The complete suite comes at a price of $19.99/month.

Substance Painter has smart materials, smart masks and integrated bakers. You can use smart materials that adjust to any object to show realistic wear and tear; explore mask presets that adapt to any shape, and paint with brushes you can 
modify on the fly. (substance3d.com)

Substance Alchemist will allow artists to perform finishing touches on materials by hand using some procedural methods. The thing is that the new tool will also bring AI-power giving, for example, an ability to adjust scans with delighting for a more realistic look after editing.

Substance Designer is used more for creating tileable, dynamic and modular textures. It's often used to create a base material library where materials can be used in other applications such as Substance Painter. 

Substance Source is a library of physically based materials packed with assets for taking your texturing, material-making and 3D art even further. There is something for everyone in Substance Source, from procedural Substance materials to hand-painted materials to 100% physically based scans.
1-3. Zachary Corzine Textile Techniques Substance painter & Substance designer
4. Danil Tabacari Bold shapes and colors - craft & art store illustration Substance painter & Substance designer
5.Sebastian Marek Never Been Done Substance painter & Substance designer
6.2 Adobe Aero

Aero is a new tool from Adobe that helps you build and share immersive and interactive AR experiences. The best part of this tool is that no coding or 3D design experience is needed. You can find Aero in your Adobe Creative Cloud.
6.3 Fresco
“Adobe Fresco is a free drawing and painting app built especially for Apple Pencil and iPad, and designed for artists who draw professionally or paint for passion.” 
This tool is Adobe’s response to the high popularity Procreate is getting in the last years. 
Adobe Fresco is available in a freemium model - you can start with a free starter plan and then upgrade to a paid version to get the premium features. Adobe opted for a monthly plan for Fresco for Ipad, that is available for $9,99. This is an interested move since Procreate is available at a one-time purchase. What is your opinion about this?
1-2. Tavo Montañez The Monster Mash 2020
3-5.Cleonique Hilsaca Mayan Gods - Adobe Creative Residency Community Fund
Thank you for reading our design picks for 2021. We will keep updating this article throughout 2021 if new styles emerge.
2021 Design Trends

2021 Design Trends

We, the designers @ Milo, will try to investigate the upcoming trends in the digital design world in 2021. We base our predictions on a deep anal Read More