2021 Design Trend Forecast

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It’s hard to believe it, but we finally made it to 2021. And with the New Year comes a whole new set of major trends. ICYMI (in case you missed it) bike shorts are out, which honestly, thank goodness. Fashion trends aside, here at R&R we love staying on top of the latest color, font and illustration trends, so that we are providing our clients with not only eye-catching, detailed work, but work that will also stand the test of time.

So, which trends made our list? Just like Pantone’s colors of the year, Ultimate Gray & Illuminating Yellow, 2021 speaks to the power of resilience, optimism and positivity. We asked our expert design team to share their input on what they’re seeing this year in color, font and illustration style trends.


by designer/animator Shea

A color palette says so much about your brand, so it’s critical that you match your brand palette to your voice. Ultimately, I think it’s important to pick colors that uniquely fit you. That being said, it’s always fun to see what’s trending and to observe how others are using colors successfully.

So, what are we seeing this year?

Earth Tones

Rich earth tones paired with an airy, light color; for example, a burnt orang paired with a cream or blush pink

Art by: Whitney Anderson

Primary Colors

Primary colors (red, yellow, blue) mixed with punchy colors like emerald green or bubblegum pink. This type of palette is loud, proud and playful.

Art by: Meg Lewis


Vintage palettes with subdued yet quirky colors like olive green, gold and rose. When you pair a vintage palette with a modern illustration style, you get the best of both worlds.

Art by: Muti


Illustration Style

by designer/animator Shea

Illustrations are a fantastic way to show off some personality and create visual interest. There are tons of illustration styles out there to help convey the tone of your company, from simple and geometric to textural and hand-done to funky and clean. I’ll share some examples below so you can see what I’m talking about.

So, what are we seeing this year?


Target has tended to favor a simple, geometric style. It’s structured and slightly abstract.

Art by: Eight Hour Day


Companies like MailChimp and DropBox have been leaning into the playful/textural style. It’s quirky and striking.

Art by: Richard Garret Smith

Funky & Clean

We’re seeing the funky and clean style being used by small businesses. It’s a little psychedelic yet neatly executed.

Art by: Pavlov Visuals



by art director Lauren

Since I am not a fortune teller, and this past year has been anything but predictable, I don’t think that I can claim to know what font trends will look like in 2021. BUT what I can do is talk about a few things that I am seeing a lot of these days and share my thoughts about what I see.

So, what are we seeing this year?

Retro Revival

Picture funky disco type and old-school serifs. I personally love this particular font trend. I think there are a lot of neat elements that can be pulled from the past to add interesting details to typography.

Art by: Joe Hansen

Deep Shadows

While this isn’t a new thing, I have been seeing a LOT more of it. Perhaps it’s because creative folks have been getting more and more involved in activism this year and want to make an impact with their creative messaging. Or perhaps it just looks cool and therefore is trendy? Either way, I’m here for it.

Art by: Carmi Grau

Reverse Contrast

This one is still a little weird to me, but I have seen a few type designers knock it out of the park and it is slowly growing on me. For example, I think Lone Pine by Hoodzpah is gorgeous. Reverse contrast essentially goes against traditional type norms, stressing thickness in places where typography is usually thin. It messes with your head a little bit, but when it’s done well it has a lot of delightful character.

Art by: Hoodzpah Design