Design in 2021 – what will graphic design look like?


As part of our series of design in 2021, Natasha Jen, partner at Pentagram, looks at what will happen in graphic design in the next 12 months.

What do you think 2021 will hold for graphic design?

The fabric of the graphic design discipline has been undergoing rapid changes before and during 2020. We’ve been seeing that the discipline has been profoundly impacted by technology and is becoming more and more “applied” with very specific professionalized specialties, such as branding, or user experience and user interface. Yet the umbrella discipline of graphic design has morphed into a super broad creative industry, detached from history (at least in the public lexicon).

In other words, the “graphic design” discipline is rapidly becoming a skill-based profession that hinges on the currents of market and technology evolutions. Going into 2021, with or without the recovery from Covid, is likely going to continue the trend. My hope is that when the world regains stability, we’d be able to engage with concerns around the evolving discipline with a healthier perspective.

What was your favourite graphic design project from 2020?

My favorite piece of graphic design is the Black Lives Matter Plaza signage in front of White House in Washington, US. It’s an incredibly powerful move, though some critics said it was merely for optic effect and not for addressing the issue of racial injustice. I politely disagree. I think it, at the very basic level, reminded us how immediate and impactful environmental graphics can be (an area that is not as frequently talked about in design blogs), and how urbanscape and its design, still matters more than ever in today’s Zoom culture.



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