It’s that time of the year again—as 2021 winds down, we look at the buzzing pot of current packaging design trends to predict what will be blooming across the industry this coming year. As another tricky year of the pandemic comes to an end, it’s become apparent that consumers are looking for sweetness and light in their everyday products.
Mischievous characters that make you smile, serene colorways and harking back to simpler times by way of nostalgic design trends; these are just a few of the themes that are beginning to play out in 2022’s packaging design trends.
Here are the 11 biggest packaging design trends for 2022:
- The new era of ’60s psychedelia
- Eccentric text-centric design
- Finding serenity in packaging
- Faux 3D deco
- Mesmerizing color mists
- Maximal inside, minimal outside
- Perfectly imperfect raw materials
- Cut ‘n’ paste color layering
- The Y2K aesthetic lingers on
- The reign of rubber hose characters
- Mischief illustrated
1. The new era of ’60s psychedelia
Some design trends are so sacred that they never slink out of style, and 1960s psychedelia definitely falls under that category. The contemporary take on the resurgence of ’60s psychedelia reminds us of a time of free love, peace and happiness which we can’t deny we need more of as we head into the deeper waters of the pandemic.
Distorted typefaces, ‘groovy’ waves and pop colors set against contemporary products help these ’60s inspired packaging designs stand out and leave us with a feeling of peace and love, man.
2. Eccentric text-centric design
Sometimes people forget that type design is an intricate art form in its own right, which is celebrated in this current trend for text taking center stage as a form of standalone art.
All signs of photography and illustration is set aside to make room for standout typefaces, often using contrasting colors to give the design a boost of energy. This trend challenges everyday perspectives of fonts, where the font is seen as a piece of art over prioritizing readability.
Thanks to the ever-increasing visual smog in our surroundings and streets, creating purity in design with a minimal aesthetic is, in my eyes, the best way to go. It’s a delicate game to play with typography, white space and playful colors—but this approach is the future.
3. Finding serenity in packaging
2022 continues to be a turbulent time in the world, which makes the packaging design trend of finding serenity perfectly timed and just the calm we need in our homes right now. Muted and complementary colors give us that initial sigh of relief, whilst simplistic copy and minimal typefaces make for unfussy readability.
Post-COVID, everyone is craving peace and calm. This trend of gentleness is characterized by light, comforting colors, and minimal elements that create an airy feeling.
The popularity for calming phenomenon ASMR even finds itself translating into packaging design, where shiny smooth or deliberately textured packaging surfaces add another dimension of serenity in packaging.
4. Faux 3D deco
This innovative faux 3D graphic illustration brings a sophisticated and contemporary edge to this packaging design trend. Playing with depth and illusion is a sure-fire way to get consumers to stop and look, almost literally jumping out at you demanding your attention.
As faux 3D is such a technical effect to create, it shows the consumer that you’re at the forefront of trends and technology, which basically translates into ‘this product is worth the money’—it’s an ideal design idea for tech products on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
5. Mesmerizing color mists
Plain white packaging is given an injection of life with sprayed misted color pops.
Arguably made famous by graphic designer Tessa Forrest, the trend for color mists has taken over the Instagram design world, possibly because of its calming effect which stops you in your tracks mid-scroll.
This design effect is so mesmerizing and enigmatic that it’s hard to place how a designer might create this effect, however a mix of over-blurring and adding noise to a color pop on Photoshop might just do the trick.
I am currently fascinated by rather high-chrome, bright shades and flashy colors—you need to combine them with sans-serif typography and monochrome, simple elements to really bring out the sophisticated, eye-catching edge to them.
6. Maximal inside, minimal outside
You know a jacket is special when its lining is just as beautiful as the outer shell? Well, the same can be said for packaging design. What a treat it is when you open up your minimalistic packaging to reveal a maximalist and beautifully crafted interior.
With millions of packages delivered every day, making packaging an experience is more important than ever. As packaging designers, we have to bring the excitement and adventure of shopping to your door—when you, the customer, open that nondescript box you have one foot in the door of a brand.
Simplistic and minimal logos are carried through from the outside-in, to reveal bright colors and maximalist illustrations, leaving consumers delighted and with your brand top of mind.
7. Perfectly imperfect raw materials
Earthy imperfect textures remind consumers where brands are getting their materials from, a must for brands that want to push their eco-friendly ethos and tap into the consciousness of consumers’ concerns with the climate crisis (excuse the tongue twister).
Sustainable packaging is a must; I love to work for projects that I believe in and we need to think of our planet. In 2022 I believe people will pay even closer attention to how they consume everyday items and the impact that they have on nature.
As the industry is rapidly changing to favor brands with sustainability at the core of their offering, ethical and compostable packaging is one of the many things you can do as a brand to show you’re serious about your sustainable positioning.
Off-white, recycled textured materials also provide a beautiful backdrop for printed ink, creating a delicate distortion of color.
8. Cut ‘n’ paste color layering
The love for collage lives on as an integral form of design, this year with more of a focus on geometry and the layering of colors. The ripped raw edges of paper give a nod to recyclable materials which is handy for tapping into the eco-conscious market.
Where collage is still very much on-trend in the independent scene, using collage in your packaging design allows you to connect to that specific high-earning creative audience.
9. The Y2K aesthetic lingers on
The Y2K aesthetic was huge between the mid-1990s and 2005 where people were obsessed with technology and the millennium, characterized by a ’90s take on cyberpunk.
The 2020s were once considered the future of design and technology. We are now turning our backs on the polished minimalism of the now and are looking to the past for inspiration. Specifically, the Y2K boom of the 2000s in all of its kitschy, metallic glory.
The Y2K trend is fascinating as it is commonly seen as a baffling (albeit charming) blip in the fashion and design world. But as all trends recycle themselves after 20 years, just like clockwork the early millennium trend is back with vengeance.
The beauty of the Y2K resurgence is the charming irony where in the early millennium we were obsessed with futurism, now this old view of futurism is nostalgic, in a similar vein to retro-futurism. Pale blues, silvers, white and pale neons set the backdrop, whilst geometric shapes add a dynamic edge.
10. The reign of rubber hose characters
Just WHO are these jaunty guys strolling their way all over our packaging? Rubber hose characters were made famous in 1920s USA thanks to creators like Bill Nolan and Walt Disney, and have been modernized in recent years by illustrators all over the world with elevated brush strokes and more sarcastic and playful expressions.
Their friendly demeanorss instantly make you smile, which is the ultimate goal of packaging design, right? Compared to the original rubber hose characters of the 1920s, you can often find the 2022’s variety in caps, sneakers and tattoos, which visually brings the aesthetic into the contemporary.
11. Mischief illustrated
The mischievous illustration trend gives a knowing nod to its viewer with its ironic childlike drawings and teeters on the edge of meme culture with its satirical style.
Hand-drawn, imperfect lines and eccentric 2D characters, this ’80s-’90s style of design feels somewhat rebellious: it emphasizes street style where imperfection actually represents uniqueness.
As with the rubber hose characters, these youthful drawings leave you smiling, if not a bit puzzled how they’ve made their way onto your packaging. After all, humor is one of the quickest ways into someone’s heart.
Excited for 2022’s packaging design trends?
Serene colorways, charming characters and nostalgia; if there’s anything we can learn about 2022’s packaging design trends it’s that consumers are looking for positive vibes.
If your product is in need of a refresh or if you’re planning on releasing a brand new product, check out our amazing list of designers ready to repackage your product.