What will graphic design look like in 2022?

As part of our design series in 2022, Frank William Miller Jr., Director of Design at Matter Unlimited, offers his take on what could be coming to graphics over the next year.

What do you think 2022 has in store for graphic design?

The challenge of finding the balance between reflecting the moment we find ourselves in and sharing bold imaginings of a different world to come. Graphic design is all about communication, and a lot of optimism, fluidity, inclusiveness and melancholy have been communicated through the brightly colored and whimsical typeface aesthetics of campaigns over the past two years – from big brands to editorial posts and Instagram infographic carousels. There is also a deep fatigue setting in as we enter another year of this pandemic, where some of that optimism for a better, fairer, more equitable and healthier world is beginning to wane.

Threading the needle to show the world and society and solve design problems, but also communicate and create space for what they could be and how these problems could be solved urgently and with a little strategy will be the soft science this year and beyond. The aesthetic comes and goes depending on the audience, but centering the people and their needs, dreams and struggles will persist.

What was your favorite graphic design project of the past year?

Jacket by Natural

The first project that came to mind was by designer and artist Naturel. Known for his brightly colored geometric portraits and pop culture compositions, he has made inroads into clothing over the years. Last year, he dove into sustainable fashion with a one-of-a-kind design that pays homage to his hometown’s favorite Maryland blue crabs. Each jacket is made to order, using materials that are ethically and sustainably sourced. On the inside lining is a cheeky message playing on the saying “crabs in a barrel”; “I will not pull my brother down”. It’s a good reminder that you can exist and thrive in life without needing to climb on someone else to do it. The strength of togetherness and community versus isolation and acrimonious competition is a concept worth cherishing, and the jacket is beautiful too.

Clifton L. Boyd