The future looks bright (like, really bright) for color lovers. When it comes to color trends, we’re seeing way more consistency across design disciplines this year. Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have enabled trends to emerge from a global design consciousness. And industry experts are taking notice, incorporating these emergent color trends in their designs to add more variety and reflect the aesthetic taste of the masses.
This year’s diverse spectrum of color trends has a little something for everyone. From bold, vibrant technicolor to pretty (and punchy) pastels and an assortment of new neutrals, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect palette for your project in 2018. These are the color trends you can expect to see everywhere this year:
1. Pretty practical in pink
Pink has become one of the most ubiquitous and versatile colors of the decade. Its modern rise to fame began on Tumblr as content creators across the platform widely adopted the color, which became known as “Tumblr Pink”. The resurgent popularity of pink quickly reached mainstream status and began to take the design world by storm.
By 2016 the favored pink palette evolved from bubble-gum tints to the spectrum of blush, ashy rose and salmon hues we know today as “Millennial Pink”. Through its versatility, commercial popularity and staying power, Millennial Pink have transcended traditional gender connotations to become an androgynous “new neutral” associated with an entire generation.
When the Pantone Color Institute (the global authority on color) named Rose Quartz and Serenity colors of the year in 2016, many trend watchers claimed pink had peaked. To the contrary however, pink refuses to fade as the trending spectrum continues to expand. With vibrant technicolor palettes in the forecast this year we will be seeing it as a statement color (think Instagram) as well as an alternative neutral. Expect a continued adaptation and evolution of the color pink
2. Metallics as neutrals
At the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show the Executive Director of Pantone, Leatrice Eiseman shared her insights on color in 2018 and told her audience that “Metallics we know are classic, but they have really moved over into neutrals.” It’s easy to see her reasoning behind this statement.
Metallics are standard in interior and fashion design as they have the unique ability to mesh beautifully with a broad range of color palettes and design trends. From minimalist accents and effortless pairings with natural materials to be the epitome of glamour and luxury, metallics have proven they really can do it all.
Despite their commercial appeal, metallics have not achieved the same status in graphic and new media design—yet. Likely due to the difficulty of accurately representing them on screen, they’ve typically been reserved for luxury products and label design. Recently, however, metallics have been gaining popularity in visual brand design—particularly for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands as companies seek to evoke the trending aesthetics of their industries within their identities.
So no matter what your design discipline, you can add a little shine to your designs in 2018 using this versatile palette of new metallic neutrals.
3. Bright and bold
Bold color has been trending in web and app design for years and this will continue in 2018. A staple of the flat design movement, the introduction of Google Material Design’s vibrant palette in 2014 further solidified the trend making it the standard in new media.
As flat design evolved into flat 2.0 the use of vibrant color reigned and the recent reintroduction of modern gradients will take this trend to the next level. Expect a plethora of electric 80’s technicolor, hot tropical palettes and iOS-inspired color transitions in the coming year.
The technicolor invasion didn’t stop at pixels as more brands are adopting eye-catching hues for their visual identities. Spot color aside, print has limitations in reproducing vibrant color so proceed with caution when considering this trend for use offline. For the increasing number of brands that live predominantly online however, this has become less of a hurtle.
Though not quite as electric, bold color is also making a prominent appearance outside of digital design as well, as Pantone announced a few eye-popping selections in the PANTONE® Fashion Color Trend Report Spring 2018 edition for New York Fashion Week to cater for ”consumers’ ongoing fascination with color”. This is hardly an understatement as vibrant hues like Meadowlark, Cherry Tomato, Ultra Violet and Lime Punch made the cut.
4. Pantone’s color of the year: UltraViolet
We’ve established that bold and beautiful color is in for 2018 and according to the Pantone Color Institute, UltraViolet will be the hue to rule them all.
Pantone describes this particular purple shade as “dramatically provocative and thoughtful” and further explains that “…purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of UltraViolet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality.”
While Pantone’s selection may seem surprising to some, digital media designers have witnessed vibrant violets become a popular color choice in recent years, especially in web and mobile app design. With its official “Color of the Year” status, we can expect this trend to gain steam in 2018.
5. Modern gradients
Gradients are making their modern-day comeback as a semi-flat design enhancement and are predicted to be one of the biggest graphic design trends of the year. Semi-flat design (a.k.a “flat 2.0”), combines the best qualities of the flat design movement with additional cues like gradients and shadows to improve functionality and user experience.
Their return to iOS and adoption by industry leaders like Instagram, Stripe and Spotify have solidified their popularity. While gradients are rapidly returning to screens everywhere in the form of vibrant UI, backgrounds, illustrations and overlays, the trend has already spread to print design and visual brand identities.
Modern gradients are beautiful and can be subtle or extremely vibrant color transitions. With bold technicolor palettes on the menu this year, gradients can be an excellent way to make the most of your plethora of color options in 2018.