Thought Leadership

Predicting design trends of 2018

MHP Design

As designers we are naturally inquisitive creatures and are greatly influenced by the world around us, from catwalk couture and street fashion through to Japanese advertising – just don’t ask us to choose a colour to decorate the landing. Social and political changes don’t always directly impact on our decision making, but as sounding boards of the time, they do tend to work their way subconsciously into the pictures we paint every day.

With this in mind we have put together some predictions which don’t all relate purely to graphic design. We hope that these will provide food for thought – and not least some amusement – as you plan your next holiday destination or decide which shirt to go for next time you’re shopping.

Last year we were a society with a deep need to return to life in its simplest, organic forms after the shockwaves generated from fake news, Brexit and Trump. This has manifested into a need for authenticity, a greater social and environmental conscience, indoor greenery, ethical threads and branding that says less but means more.

We also saw a surge in bold, brave colours which are here to stay. Heads up – shades of purple are in (move over millennial pink).


DesignER Crossovers

It’s difficult to cut through and show true originality these days, and we will go to any length to show we are one step ahead and different from our peers. This insatiable need is often met by a love of the ‘Limited Edition’, especially in fashion, from designer ‘man bags’, to Omega 1957 Trilogy Limited Editions and bespoke collections such as the one last year by Erdem Moralioglu for high street fashion brand H&M.

This trend seems to be losing little momentum in 2018 with designer crossovers such as Kate Moss who has spearheaded several more projects, most recently designing a new floral wallpaper for British brand de Gournay.

Claud Cecil Gurney and Kate Moss photographed by Nikolai von Bismarck

BRand Simplification

It’s been 10 years since responsive design began to revolutionise the web, and since then it has become the industry standard. The rapid rise of mobile browsing and an endless assortment of devices and screen sizes has created critical usability issues for traditional websites. Designers and developers began experimenting with various ways to make designs adapt to the user’s device as a one-website-fits-all solution. This laid the groundwork for what would become known as ‘responsive design.’

The idea of altering logos to meet the same user demands has largely remained unthinkable… until now. Companies have begun refreshing their logos into modern, simplified versions over the past few years and responsive logo design is the logical next step in meeting the demands of today.

  • Formula One rebrand by Wieden + Kennedy London
  • Ebay rebrand by Form&
  • YouTube rebrand
  • Firefox rebrand

We live in a world where the user experience is king, and complex brand systems get in the way of the content. Function overrides superfluous design details, and every brand asset needs to earn its place.

Think YouTube or F1, where an entire brand can be distilled into an app tile or profile picture. The simplicity allows the brand to ‘show up’ distinctively wherever it appears, without appearing too forced.


In a world where we are continually striving for perfection, it may come as a surprise that the next big trend we should be aspiring to, is in fact, the complete opposite. The ancient Japanese practice of Wabi-Sabi centres around the celebration of impermanence and an appreciation of the imperfect.

Whilst its origins stem from embracing flaws in pottery used for ancient tea ceremonies, the essence of this philosophy has the potential to extend far beyond home décor and interiors.

With an innate regard for authenticity that values function over aesthetics and form, the movement may inspire a refreshing shift in perception across all fields of design.


The bright, bold colour trends of recent years look set to continue into 2018, with vivid green hues making way for this year’s Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 – Ultra Violet.

Portrait: 'Dearly Beloved We Are Gathered Here Today To Get Through This Thing Called Life' by Angie Jones

Enigmatic purples have long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, artistic brilliance, and spiritual reflection. Ultra Violet symbolises experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

The timeless classics are still here to stay, with darker palettes of navy, burgundy and forest green used as an anchor for bold, jewel-tone accents.



On the back of the arrival of Fernando Romero’s Soumaya Museum and David Chipperfield’s Jumex, Mexico City is in a state of spirit-lifting rejuvenation.

Its bar and restaurant scene is fertile. The international clamour for Mexican art has encouraged an explosion of gallery openings and an influx of talent, and now the city is World Design Capital 2018. The theme, ‘Socially Responsible Design’, was announced before a devastating earthquake in September, but has become a call to action, with some 100 architects (Mauricio Rocha, Pedro Reyes and Tatiana Bilbao among them) working towards a strategy for post-earthquake architecture.

October sees Design Week Mexico, followed by Abierto Mexicano de Diseño. And while the city awaits a new airport by Norman Foster and Romero, this year it will welcome Torre Cuarzo on Reforma, Richard Meier’s mixed-use skyscraper.

Statue: Guerrero Chimalli by Mexican sculptor Sebastián guards the main road to the eastern suburb of Chimalhuacán


Another upcoming trend among photographers that is sure to be on the rise is the use of photography colour gels or filters. This technique allows for endless possibilities, creating interesting colourful lighting situations for the photographed object. It’s a little contradictory to the design trend thinking of representing ‘honesty and truth’ as the overall effect of this is false, pushed colouring and modernity.

  • Photography: Tim Tadder
  • Photography: Tim Tadder
  • Photography: Slava Semeniuta
  • Photography: Carlos Serrao

It does makes sense if colour is now the ‘new black’ and the trend is making a strong impact in branding and the wider design scene, capturing the imagination of photographers, image makers and film makers. A significant commercial commission will no doubt send this sky high. 

The need to shout is back.


Hand-drawn images will continue to be seen a huge amount in 2018. The personal touch that they provide to branding and marketing is undeniable.

In a world ever-more dominated by screens, there is just something appealing about the hand-drawn that resonates with many.

It goes hand in hand with the movement away from the very technical and a return to an artisan approach. This can be seen across everything from food to the resurgence of handicrafts, and perhaps more sub-consciously, the search for a more balanced way of life.  

Similarly, there’s been a move away from polished photography to more gritty, real-world photographs. Arguably this stems from the millennial generation looking for design that has a bit more integrity, and the manifestation of physical art in design (particularly graphics) seems to have struck a chord with everyone.



One trend this year that we are going to stick out neck out on is the trend for transparency. Whether this is a reaction to an environmental plight of plastic waste in our oceans, a hark back to 60s idealism, or a subconscious need to show how honest and ‘real’ we are, this seasons catwalk revealed a myriad of styles in clear plastic and tulle.

Embroidered tulle layers were teamed with sheer plastic trenches, and the style cognoscenti didn’t waste time with handbag clutter either, debuting an array of daring handbags fashioned from rainproof plastic.

Clearly everything see-through is having its moment again, but there may just be something in it – the innovative use of translucent materials (from fashion and architecture through to printed brochure) to inspire a new-found sense of clarity and honesty.



Originally trending in the 1970s, Terrazzo has once again begun to surge in popularity. Whilst it’s initial appeal centered around cost-effectiveness as an alternative to expensive marble flooring, today’s resurgence can be credited to a fresh approach in environmental sustainability. Chinese design studio Bentu, based in one of the largest ceramic production areas in the world, have developed a collection of furniture titled Ceramics Made incorporating Terrazzo created from recycled ceramic waste.

Ceramics Made is a material regeneration experiment using waste ceramic tiles to make terrazzo. Waste materials can be put back into use for the general public and become everyday furniture that can be produced in a large scale.

With designers worldwide focusing on experimental projects with a strong social conscience, 2018 looks set to be a strong year for pioneering material production.


MORE 3D and AR

The rapid growth of Augmented Reality or ‘AR’ will not only be noticed in the games, video and app industry – we believe that AR has good prospects of taking over the design community as well, particularly on mobile devices. A potential source of inspiration may come from DIA Studio, using interactive 3D typography on everyday objects. 

In 2018, 3D typography will become increasingly popular. The key will be to look impressive and push creative boundaries. 3D has become important for corporations (i.e. Nike) as they are an effective means of both connecting with and impressing their audience. We will certainly be seeing more 3D type animation as well.



Some 2018 fashion tips from your friendly design team

Do not dismiss the impact of fashion in design. Fashion design has always been a strong cultural commentator and any designer worth their salt will see some influence in the collections each season produces.

Hawaiian shirts – again!

This year, 1950s-style Elvis Presleyesque Hawaiian shirts dominated the catwalks of Louis Vuitton, while bowling shirts dotted the Prada catwalk and 1980s American Gigolo-style long blazers appeared at Dries Van Noten.

Men’s jewellery 

This season saw menswear collections incorporating jewellery in a flashier way. From Americana hillbilly styles to the discerning trendy collector’s watch, men are starting to get more ‘showy’ with accessorising.

Brit-pop sunglasses

There has been a shift away from the round tea sunglasses that rose to popularity with John Lennon in the ’70s and the runway shows of previous seasons. This year, the smaller framed, square-shaped sunglasses synonymous with ’90s Brit-pop are making a comeback. Daniel W Fletcher and Charles Jeffrey are just some of the brands featuring these iconic pieces, typically worn a little further down the nose for a more authentic look, along with coloured lenses for a pop of colour.

Vertical stripes

If yesterday was all about graphic, abstract prints, last year’s London Fashion Week, particularly men’s fashion, was all about far more ordered patterns and the big stripe.

Camo is the season’s most conspicuous pattern

Camouflage is one of those patterns that never really goes away, instead merely bubbling under the surface waiting to break out every few seasons. So what makes it so different this time around? In short, it’s the way you wear it. This year will be far more casual and street-orientated in direction. While wearing as a matching head-to-toe look might only appeal to the boldest among us, make sure you pick up a baseball cap, T-shirt or (our personal favourite) a field jacket popping with the pattern.

To find out more about MHP Design and the work that we do, please contact and see our Bēhance page.