The Design Trends that 2021 Needs!

The Design Trends that 2021 Needs! featured image
By Chris Carls | Published January 29, 2021

Every year, board member Chris Carls compiles a list of the upcoming year’s design trends and shares it with his colleagues at Cirrus Visual in Tucson. This year, Chris decided to share his insights with us — and you! Read along to see what Chris has to say about top themes like Inclusivity, Nostalgia, Positivity, and Nature.

Let’s be honest… annual design trends are often disregarded since there are so many opinions and industries that promote them. They also span over years, gaining or losing popularity as interest ebbs and flows, so it’s impossible to say if a certain trend is attributed to a specific year. 

This year is different. This year, on the heels of 2020, certain trends must come to fruition. In fact, we saw some of the 2020 trends actually get solidified as the pandemic, racial injustice, and climate topics dominated our lives on a global level.

The 2021 design trends are REAL this time, firmly grounded by living through these trying times. Not only are designers aware of the trends, the entire world knows. We NEED these trends: 


This trend is one that should have been mainstream centuries ago. The racial-related tragedies of 2020 brought immediate attention to the Black Lives movement, and the world agreed that we need to include all members of all races and backgrounds in all areas of our designed world. Stock photography and illustrations became more authentic, and businesses globally sought to promote diversity. This isn’t a trend, this is now… and necessary.



“In these unprecedented times” the world needs comfort and familiarity. Like a warm blanket, looking back to simpler times can give us hope for the future. This trend will be visible through a variety of forms: images, fonts, retro-futurism or even psychedelia.  



The world also needs lots of good mojo. Bright colors and playful design should permeate every touch point. Dragging us out of the doom and gloom that was 2020, let’s inject positive vibes everywhere and put on some rose-colored glasses. Did someone say “Emoji design”?!?


Being locked up in quarantine for nearly a year now, people can’t even WAIT to get outside. Folks that never cared about being in nature even want to frolic through the flowers. Oh, and you want an outside to go to? Then perhaps we should listen to the Global Warming science that’s been fed to us for decades. Elements of nature will be shown infused at every available outlet, be it through subliminal color use, or straight up leaf placement.


Chris is the Art Director at Cirrus Visual – a design and print firm in Tucson, AZ. Born in the midwest, he has a BFA from the University of Illinois and an MFA from the University of Arizona, which is what brought him to the desert. While he doesn’t get the opportunity to do much actual design in his position, he’s never not creating – using his home maker space for screen printing, wood working and drawing, and jamming in Adobe Illustrator and After Effects when his 3 kids are asleep. He enjoys long mountain bike rides through the desert during that time also. You can follow his adventures on Instagram:

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