Design trends come and go with the times. Retro design is becoming more alive than ever since 2019. Retro trends have popped up in all different segments of design from product and interior to graphic and social media design. Many big brands like Nike have been using elements of nostalgic design in ads, marketing campaigns, and products and receive positive feedback and success.
The revival of retro motifs has been a huge trend in the past few years. So if you want to know how to get the vintage retro vibe into your design, here is Inner Spark Creative’s guide to the biggest trends for each decade from the 60s to the 90s.
1. Pop Art
Pop art first emerged in the late 1950s. It carried over into the 1960s and continued to dominate all design categories from art to fine art to books. The trend was influenced by some founders of the pop art movement, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. They were best known for famous pop art pieces such as Campbell’s Soup Cans and Crying Girl. This style of art featured bright colors, irony and satire, and mixed media or collages. Pop art is still very much alive, especially on social media and in art communities.
2. Optical Art
Optical art is a form of abstract art that creates illusions in positive and negative space. It quickly became one of the biggest trends of the 60s. It sometimes creates an illusion of movement within the design, depending on the focus. Kaleidoscope patterns also became popular, going hand in hand with optical illusion art. These were created from kaleidoscopes, which is a mirrored tube containing colored glass, beads, tinsel, and other fragments of shapes. This concept is still popular in art and remains a trend, specifically in video and motion design.
3. Psychedelic Designs
Another popular design in the 60s was inspired by the psychedelic movement. This is still a large and popular style. This style also used lots of bright and neon colors, which were used as a symbol of the Flower Power and Free Love movements. Psychedelic design includes fluid shapes, hand-drawn fonts, bright colors, and dream-like patterns or landscapes. These designs and especially bright colors are very much still in trend today and make designs stand out.
1. Simple Shapes and Colors
Contrary to psychedelic designs of the 60s, the 70s used simpler, flat shapes typically arranged in repeated patterns. This was used as background art or fabric for clothing or home decor. This trend is back in style this year for fashion, branding, and packaging.
2. Freeform Typography
The 60s began changes to typography, but it took off in the 70s. There were new typesetting techniques that made typography more varied and unique. Some common patterns during this time included flowy and freeform letters with swirls on the end and bubble-like shapes with pointed edges. Think of the Woodstock posters or grateful dead logo font the lettering they used.
3. Hippie Patterns and Motifs
The 70s were full of social and cultural movements that influenced design at this time. People wanted to express themselves as much as possible through art, music, fashion, and more. Hippie and disco were just some of the most popular trends that defined the 70s with an impact on visual designs. Disco brought in a lot of iconic symbols and themes for the decade. Some popular ones are peace signs, disco balls, flowy flowers with faces, and music-related icons such as records, notes, and guitars. All of these are back in style now, especially the disco ball.
Neon is one trend of the 80s that broadly describes the entire decade. Neon was used everywhere from film posters to album covers to video games and fashion. 80s Cyberpunk trends are also making a comeback right now. This originated in the 60s and was in many movies, comics, games, and designs. This style looks futuristic and high-tech. This can be described as an oxymoron of a retro-future aesthetic. One example of recent use of this trend was Stranger Things advertising and branding.
Tropical design is similar to the 20s and 30s art deco designs. In the 80s, tropical design incorporated minimalism and extravagance. It usually involves sans-serif fonts, clean lines, drop shadows, glows, and adding extra personality. Think Miami Vice. Tropical designs went beyond logos and into movie posters, album covers, and interior designs featuring palm trees, neon, pastels, and suns.
3. 80s Music
The 80s music brought us hair metal, synth-pop, hip-hop, and love song ballads. The 80s brought great diversity into music. Some major artists from this period were David Bowie, Michael Jackson, ACDC, and The Cure. This decade was a crucial time for the development of digital music. Artists in the 80s began having their own unique looks apart from others. This sense of individuality brought forth more trends following what celebrities were doing in this decade and still currently.
Grunge is derived from punk music, graffiti, and skateboarding culture. This led to a less polished and more experimental style in the 90s. This style used elements such as dirty backgrounds, distressed textures, jagged edges, doodles, distressed fonts, and real-life picture cutouts.
The anti-design movement originated in the 60s but did not gain mega popularity until the 90s. The 90s had more of a raw and minimalistic design compared to the 80s. Anti-design has the grittiness of grunge, with experimental layouts, exaggerations, distortion, and things that were traditionally seen as “ugly” elements of design. This came back in trend with the resurgence of Brutalism which features geometric shapes, industrial colors, and concrete.
3. 90s Rave
90s rave was the opposite of grunge and anti-design. Some features of this design style are pastels, jelly, fuzz, animal print, and dorky fonts. Memphis style was also a trend from the 80s that carried into the 90s in this category. TV shows such as Rugrats and Full house had an impact on the popularity of handwriting style fonts. Comic Sans was released in 1995 and was seen everywhere in design.
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Dayton Cook of Inner Spark Creative statutes on the subject of returning graphic design trends:
“The great thing about borrowing from past trends is that with time and perspective, one can see which stylistic choices still hold value beyond their time of origin. Dozens of motifs can gain popularity in a decade, but only the motifs with universal appeal are remembered decades later. These motifs then not only define the period they came from, but they continue to be borrowed and blended with current fashions to create an aesthetic that is both fresh and familiar.”
Design trends will forever be a circle of rotating trends as people bring back things from generations they missed. It is important to keep up to date on the trends when designing ads, logos, and branding. At Inner Spark Creative, we stay ahead of the trends and are ready to assist you with your business’s graphic design needs. Contact us to learn more about our services.