Dana Kachan June 11th, 2020

Reimaging Graphic Design via a Prism of Cyberpunk, Brutalism & Steampunk

After the recent pandemic challenge, the planet is entering a new age. During a lockdown, we have faced many technology disruptions that reminded us once again about the importance of massive digital transformation. The post-Coronavirus world is now challenging the status quo and rethinking different industries. The design is not an exception.

That period has let all of us feel a slight touch of the undeniable future that is fastly rushing to us. The sunrise of tech innovations, the dominance of urbanism in our lives, and the desire to breathe in unison with the future — all these factors have created a perfect environment for the birth of new graphic design trends and a blast of the past futuristic tendencies. Here we’re introducing the five digital design trends that are predicted to gain momentum soon.

Cyberpunk Renaissance 

The intriguing beauty of cyberpunk is hidden in the fact that most of us forecast that this style might become part of our everyday reality very soon. Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting. It implies a mind-blowing combination of high-tech and a “low-life.” We have witnessed the popularity of cyberpunk after the turn of the millennium. Today, we experience the next wave of cyberpunk in graphic design. The cyberpunk renaissance is here right now. 

Today, we can see that many companies in various industries make their brand identity designs (a logo, branding colors, and marketing visuals) based on the cyberpunk aesthetics that is often associated with innovation and extraordinary approaches to things. It helps them build a positive online image, instill desired associations with a brand, and acquire new customers.

Cyberpunk doesn’t necessarily include flying smart cars, urban dystopias, illuminated skyscrapers, etc. Some of the modern graphic designers reimagine logos, branding design, and illustrations via a prism of cyberpunk by incorporating just slight hints at this style, like a bold color palette, digitally enhanced fonts, and extraordinary layouts. Also, we often associate cyberpunk with the Akira-Esque illustrations, the active use of neons, a futuristic glitch effect, and the imitation of metals in design. A pinch of cyberpunk can make your digital business presence even more memorable and distinctive. Let’s take a look at these graphic design examples featuring cyberpunk aesthetics.

Design by Roman Kl?o

Brutalism: Honesty and Unusual Beauty

Illustration by Greg Lapin

Inspired by rough shapes of brutalist architecture, modern designers have started using this style in graphic design. Brutalism looks stark, menacing, and reminds us that there is nothing immortal or persistent in the whole Universe. A lot of brutalist designs are striving to depict the pure beauty of things without excessive decorations. Brutalism is penetrated by motifs that show us that everything is exposed to natural destruction and must be used efficiently and at the right moment.

Brutalism is often associated with simplicity, boldness, and honesty. That’s why brands that aim to emphasize these aspects in their images and reputation, use brutalism for logo design and website design. When incorporating brutalism in design, companies mostly try to let their customers know that they are ready to give up all the unnecessary restrictions and start open and honest communication with their audiences. They are ready to listen to their needs and offer relevant solutions. 

Design by Eugene Paryhin for Fireart Studio
Illustration by ??rry v??ce??

Back to the Future with Steampunk

Steampunk is the next amazing subgenre of science fiction that is expected to find its reflection is graphic design. It’s a retro-meets-future style that inspires us to imagine new worlds where the past epochs are blended with the futuristic aesthetics into an engaging combination of the incompatible. This style shows us the future from the retro perspective and reveals the beauty of vintage flying apparatus, gears, timepieces, and mechanisms. These motifs are the most often used in steampunk designs. This trend is commonly associated with copper and brass, as well as a warm ochre color palette. 

Even though this style hasn’t been very popular in recent years, it has gained a second life this year. Today, steampunk is one of the most incredible and loved trends gaining momentum in graphic design 2020. The brands love to use steampunk because it feels more human, warmer, and familiar to our minds than cold cyberpunk. Although it still teases our perception with an extraordinary mix of the future and past in a single style. Due to its mood and color spectrum, steampunk is usually associated with a feeling of community, adventures, ardor, and traveling through various epochs and dimensions. 

Illustration by Mike | Creative Mints
Illustration by Anton Fritsler (kit8)
Illustration by Marijan Zubak

Ultra-Thin Geometry Aesthetics

The line is a fundamental element of any graphic object, defining its shape, nature, and even mood. This year sees how the stability of straight lines combines with an ethereal feeling of curves and round forms, creating a new style. Ultra-thin geometry has already become widely used by designers in industrial design, digital graphics art, and web design. 

Geometric, artificially created lines depict objects from the technological and “human-made” world, while curves often reveal the beauty of nature and organic shapes. The ultra-thin geometry is elegant, abstract, and minimalist. It is mentioned here along with the future-oriented styles since its designs are usually associated with technology innovations and futuristic concepts. The ultra-thin geometry is difficult-to-create without computer assistance. That’s probably why it’s so loved by industrial branding designers and a tech industry.

Design by Aleksandr Kandyba
Design by Ian Douglas

Biopunk: Biotechnology + Cyberpunk

Illustration by Oliver Brown

Biopunk is one more sci-fi subgenre featuring the combination of biotechnology and cyberpunk. Science fiction talks a lot about cyborgs, transhumanism, and millions of other ways biological beings can be augmented by emerging technologies in the future. Biopunk is actually a style that demonstrates these ideas the most narratively.

It is one of the futuristic styles that show how our lives may look like soon. Biopunk is characterised by a prevailing green palette and unbelievable scenarios of the post-apocalyptic world reviving after the ecological catastrophe or invasion of aliens. Today, many companies and environmental organizations use biopunk in their branding and marketing materials as a style that reminds everyone of the importance of caring about the health of our planet. Although biopunk hasn’t been massively known and used in recent years, its popularity is fast-rising today.  

Design by George Gold
Humanity Project by CORE Studio
Humanity Project by CORE Studio

Conclusion

Here we’ve outlined major futuristic trends that will span the digital world this year. Most of these graphic design styles reflect the upcoming reality as well as our vision of the future. Cyborgs, a combination of biology and technology, vintage flying cars, innovative line-art designs, neon-illuminated skyscrapers, and many more incredible things are awaiting us in 2020. Hopefully, these insights will inspire you to use new amazing designs that will help your company build an image of the brand that keeps abreast of the latest innovations.

Dana Kachan

Strategic Marketing Consultant providing creative and data-driven marketing for companies in various industries ranging from mobile app development, virtual reality and augmented reality development, to the Internet of Things, to graphic design and UI/UX design.

2 comments

  1. I love the perspective of Steampunk designs!
    There’s something comforting in a look that brings to mind the best loved stories of our childhood. Authors like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and all the others who sparked our imaginations to believe anything was possible and lead us to create a new reality in today’s world.

    Nothing is impossible. You simply have to be willing and able to think outside of the box.
    Happy designing to you all!

    1. Dear Bonnie,

      Thanks for your amazing and inspirational comment! I totally agree with you. I like steampunk too, and yes – nothing is impossible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *