The year 2020 is quickly taking on a very futuristic route. Things that seemed impossible are going to become household names, designers will continue to surprise us with CGI magic, and artists might just struggle to help us visualize the concepts and ideas that have yet to hit the mass market.
The Utopian Magazine visual trends report is about ideas, topics, and aesthetics with an outlook on the future of visual communication. This year, we spoke to creative agencies around the world to help us round up the main visual trends of 2020. What we’ve learned so far, is that if you don’t seek out new trends, they’ll inevitably find you.
1. THE WORLD OF TOMORROW
One of the hot topics of 2020 will undoubtedly be Extended Reality (XR). Facebook’s Horizon and updates with Oculus Quest aim to integrate VR into our daily lives. It’s not just going to influence the way we spend our leisure time, but the way we shop and communicate as well. Get ready to immerse in virtual environments at home, with retail, the arts, and the entertainment industry.
Other popular topics will include automation, robotics, connected world, 5G, AI, cybersport, Internet of Things, artificial neural networks, and cloud health. Businesses have to find meaningful ways to leverage the latest tech, and microstock contributors have to be the first to supply the visuals with their imaginative take on the latest technology, as well as their use and applications.
2. NEON DYSTOPIA
Movie releases can create some serious hype, but in 2020, it might as well be a role-playing video game to take the world by storm. The release of Cyberpunk 2077 will spark pop culture reinvestment into the sci-fi genre that focuses on AI overpowering humanity. The cyberpunk aesthetic is often used or referenced to convey deeper meanings about our modern society as seen in episodes of Black Mirror, Stranger Things, and the movie Blade Runner.
As an extension of the cyberpunk aesthetic, the neon lights and dystopian vibes could influence visual communication beyond the digital realm of the internet. The Neon Dystopia trend with cyberpunk roots will likely influence fashion and pave the road to futuristic undertones in other fields of art and design. References to this trend will stretch beyond and ironically involve all the technology we have to date to create atmospheric experiences.
3. LIMIT AI TION
Fresh out of a sci-fi novel, AI is said to take on more human tasks by 2020. Thanks to increased computing power, AI has advanced at lightspeed and is surpassing humans in learning capabilities. It’s also is changing shopping and learning experiences, and influencing business and consumer activity around the world.
The other side of the coin is a surge in societal concerns about the implications of these fast advancements. If tech-leading states, companies, artists, and society have started looking for solutions to current concerns, we should be ready for serious AI-talks in 2020. Arguably it’s already started with the latest solutions against facial-recognition devices and algorithms from Hong Kong. The topic continues with growing concerns about Deepfakes, cybersecurity, and safety in general. Elon Musk tried to warn us.
4. BRING DOWN THE BAUHAUS
We celebrated a century of the Bauhaus school in 2019. The pioneering aesthetic in fine arts continues to influence the design of living today and in the years to come. Artists often make references to the foundations of the Bauhaus movement, adding a contemporary spin to it with their projects.
Bauhaus aesthetics is the new definition of “less is more”. It’s evident not only in craftsmanship, paint, textiles, architecture, and typography, but even web design and graphic design in general. It stretches beyond an aesthetic we’re all familiar with, to a school of ideas that can serve as inspiration and challenge the status quo in 2020.
5. BRUTALISM AND DIGITAL DECAY
You can love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it. Brutalism roots lie in architecture, but the concept and style has taken over the digital world as well. Five years ago, a newfound appreciation for Brutalism emerged with increased attention to the architectural style on Instagram. Today, it’s an evolving, rebellious trend urging both designers and viewers to step outside the comfort zone of polished work.
The “raw” aesthetic is often applied to website and graphic design, resulting in an overall stylistic that commands attention. It’s not always pretty, but certainly refreshing in a pool of perfectionist layouts, by-the-book compositions, and artistic choices made for universal appeal. Brutalism may be visually demanding, but certainly is not to be confused with anti-design.
6. MUTED SHADES BREAK
The juxtaposition to bold, futuristic colors are color palettes that are soothing, gentle, and communicative. You might be familiar with the famous Tranquil Dawn color, or seen some of the beige undertones and monochrome highlights from this year. In a pool of bold designs and daring artistic choices, muted shades communicate a kind of sophistication that can only be achieved with a minimalist touch.
WGSN placed their bets on Neo-Mint as the color of the year. Arguably, this shade is in line with futuristic vibes, and it scrapes the surface of a bigger trend about preferences for muted colors. We need more color trends that work out the balance of nature and tech and serve as the perfect break for the eyes and mind.
7. PLAY ON OPTICAL PERCEPTION
All great designs manage to captivate audiences and grab attention. The play on optical perception, or the visual deformation of composition and typography, attracts the eye more so than a perfect composition. We can’t stop looking at designs in this style because it’s unconventional and doesn’t have clear patterns.
Our minds are programmed to look for patterns, but once you take that out of the equation in a design, one has to stop and grasp the bigger picture. Challenging viewers with distorted type and designs is a sure way to get them to pause, appreciate, and understand the message.