How to Make a Visual Impression in 2021: Inkhouse Design Predictions

Dec 08, 2020 Michele Trio

Let’s face it: We’ve spent the majority of 2020 online. A new survey found people have been spending more time on their smart/mobile phones (59%), watching television (59%), or in front of a computer screen (55%) since the pandemic began. 

There’s been an enormous impact on the way we interact with each other online. While there are various factors that go into how we experience the virtual world, visual aesthetics is what first catches our attention and dictates how we interact with a brand. The visuals lure users to click on a URL, view a video, research a product, and comment on a social media post. In the world of virtual engagement, design is as important as the messaging and call to action. 

Our new virtual economy in 2020 has sparked some trends that are here to stay, including eye-friendly dark modes, easy and minimalist designs, and a focus on mobile. As always in periods of dramatic change, trends have to reflect the needs of the customer and fight in their corner. So let's look ahead to 2021 and the emerging trends we believe will be the big breath of fresh air we all need. 

#1: 3D Design & Typography

While 3D doesn’t exactly sound revolutionary, its place in design is becoming more interesting. This trend is taking advantage of the more advanced design software on the market and the rise of augmented reality technology to showcase hyper-realistic visuals that make a huge impact. We predict these realistic renderings will trend more towards a juxtaposition with surreal subject matter, or layering 3D and 2D elements together for visual interest. These visually stunning creations are not purely for the sake of great design, they have a practical edge and interest and engage the viewer, holding users’ attention and resulting in lower bounce rates. 

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Leo Natsume

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Minh Pham                                                                      UI8

Last year we predicted bold typography would be a staple trend for 2020, and we see that continuing in 2021. Typography has become the main course of the design meal with designers using whimsical textures and aesthetics to make type pop. The prediction for 2021 is that the popular typography designs of 2020 will be transformed into 3D. Ultra-realistic lettering that feels like you can reach in and touch it. 

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Roman Klčo

#2: Nature & Organic Design

As an evolution of last year’s prediction about an increase in natural and organic color palettes -- we believe that we’ll see a lot more literal depictions of nature in the coming year. With everyone being cooped up inside, it's not a surprise that we’ll start to see design reflect that desire for escape. Whether this trend manifests in the form of leafy patterns, earth-tone color schemes or illustrations of breathtaking vistas, graphic design is going green. The best part? We are seeing this trend reach beyond environmentally-oriented products.

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Afterglow Studio                                                              Soren Iverson

#3: Monochrome & Duotone Design

We know people are spending more time in front of their computers, and not necessarily out of choice. There is an idea that mono and duo color palettes are pushing a more relaxed, eye-friendly aesthetic in design. Honing in on limited color options on a site or graphic give it an overall calm and unified effect.

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Tanya Tsiguleva                                                                Katie Powell

#4: Geometric Shapes

The idea of using individual shapes to create larger more complex ones has been around since we were kids playing with legos - and this trend looks all set to peak in 2021. Managing to mix the simplicity of block design with the depth, shadow, and gradient effects of 3D will be all the rage in 2021. There will also be examples that use basic, flat shapes that come together to build characters, environments and movement--- the focus will be on the overall image, rather than the individual components.

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 ILLO                                                                                   Gavrisov Dmitri

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Cal Notman                                                                      Ehsan Madadi

#5: Irreverent Illustration

Humor and weirdness have always had a strong place in the design world, but we see it taking a leading role in 2021. Quirky character illustrations can make a brand unforgettable, and with the trend of “escaping reality” being so popular, we expect to see brands try to embody their personality with playful, smile-inducing characters. Perfect for memorable branding, creating an inviting atmosphere for a product or site, and incredibly multifunctional.

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Christina Moreland                                                          Leo Natsume

We see these five design trends answering the emotional needs of 2020. With the tragedy in our world around us, we are seeing playful, irreverent characters. With increased self-isolation, we are seeing nature-inspired design. Living amid chaos, we are looking to more simple and calming aesthetics. These trends are here to inspire you, and if you don’t have a designer on staff and need some extra help, the Inkhouse creative team is happy to chat! Drop us a note at

Topics: 2021 predictions, Design, Visual Trends, Inkhouse Creative Services
Michele Trio

As the Vice President of Creative Services at Inkhouse, Michele is responsible for making all things creative come to life. She draws inspiration from travel, culture and art (aka the notepad sketches done by her co-workers). Michele provides conceptual development, manages the design team and ensures a high standard of visual execution across all media and campaigns. She loves creating extremely detailed illustrations that bring her clients’ projects to the next level and focuses strongly on designing for user experience.

Read more from Michele Trio

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