Graphic trends of 2017

Three trends to look out for in 2017, maybe even beyond…

So, it’s no longer January and the pieces of paper with New Year’s resolutions written on have been in your office recycling for the past three months. However, just because April is fast approaching doesn’t mean that we can’t take a brief look at the graphic trends and their origins that continue to expand into 2017, and potentially into 2018.

Graphic trends evolve from many areas of both visual culture and, more dramatically, from social and economic influences. It’s undeniable that the current social and political climate is one of intrigue and unease.

With this in mind, many of the trends for 2017 and beyond revolve around nostalgia, genuineness and nature.

Trend One – The 1980s

21st October 2015, dubbed ‘Back To The Future day’ by many. This was, of course, the date when Marty Mcfly in the film Back To The Future was to travel… back to the future… and encounter hoverboards, self-lacing shoes and flying cars. This lead many in reality to ask the same question on social media: ‘where’s my hoverboard, it’s 2015?!’

It’s hard to believe that this film is nearly 30 years old. To many, 30 years ago still means the 1970s, and the flared fashions of that era have come and gone repeatedly. However, with the 1980s rightfully classed in this ‘special’ era, filmmakers are returning to classic 80s films, such as Flight of the Navigator, Splash and Bladerunner, for inspiration. With pop culture turning towards this time period, it is inevitable that graphics will do the same. The ‘boom’ decade is graphically defined by its brash and bright contrasting neon colours, in addition to equally contrasting textures and patterns. Combined with angular lines and almost Russian Constructivist compositions, the 1980s has made a resurgence mainly due to pop culture but potentially also due to the troubling times of the 21st century.

Trend Two – Hygge (hue-guh)

There is a now best-selling book called Hygge, in which the term of the same name is defined as ‘the Danish way to live well’. Hygge is also defined as creating a warm sense of wellbeing — a sense of cosiness. Like minimalism, hygge is almost an antidote to technology; it is about simplicity, with interiors featuring beautifully textured throws and imperfect pottery. Hygge is about appreciating the small things available in life, about being mindful yet present. With all the ‘fake news’ and people in the past clambering to sell a lifestyle that is unobtainable, hygge is about honesty, authenticity and innocence.

Where hygge is concerned, graphics tend to lean towards stylised foliage, and the use of muted blues and reds, with the use of traditional print techniques such as letterpress and screen printing.

Trend Three – Natural Patterns & Geometrics

With Tim Peake having returned safely from the International Space Station last year, the discovery of gravitational waves making the mainstream headlines, and various other scientific breakthroughs, science is now cool! From posters of the periodic table to star charts and jewellery inspired by the chemical symbols, combined with patterns and colours from the visible natural world, patterns and geometrics have permeated into the everyday and have become popular within interiors, graphics and packaging.

natural patterns provide a nod to nature that people seem to be craving

A particular focus on natural geometrics and patterns, such as those seen in rock striations and plant foliage, are necessary references to the natural world that many people require. This can be understood to be mainly due to the impact of screen time and the day to day influx of technology.


In 2017, trends like hygge and a lifestyle focussed on ‘living in the moment’ are set to continue. Apps such as ‘Get Some Headspace’ and even mindfulness colouring books (that took last year by storm) are aimed at providing those weary with the abundance of technology with a sustainable antidote. They’re the sort of antidote that is easily obtainable and don’t require further materialistic noise to be useful.

Natural patterns and geometrics provide a nod to nature that people in society seem to be craving. When it aired last year, the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth’ attracted around 10.6 million viewers at its peak. The series narrator, Sir David Attenborough, has surmised that the series’ popularity is due to viewers “reconnecting with a planet whose beauty is blemished, whose health is failing, because they understand that our own wellbeing is inextricably linked to that of the planet’s.” Attenborough sees it as “two-way therapy”. This ‘therapy’ is something that consumers will continue to invite into their lives and homes with the patterns and geometrics trend playing a key role in how we see the world in 2017.

Written by Lucy Kong, designer at RealEdge