”Thoughtful Collages” have been happening throughout design the past few years. Flat illustrations on solid backgrounds or Images with a text overlay have dominated communications design. There now seems to be a rise of silhouetted black and white photography, layered on top of other colorful imagery or shapes in the brand’s palette: the maximalist look. Minimalist design is phasing out.
Good design has a purpose. I think the purpose of this maximalist style is to telegraph more information and visual cues. It allows brands to show their dimension and personality in a single glance. It is also an opportunity to make a person – a customer or employee – the hero of a story. I first applied this maximalist approach with our client American Board of Telehealth (ABT), giving them a modern and bold look mixing primary colors with black and white photography in a halftone effect. This layered style allowed the Physician and the Patient to be the focal point, highlighting ABT’s mission of patient/human-centric care. We’ve also recently used this maximalist style to design the look of an entire tradeshow hosted by our client the National Fire Protection Association. The style adds excitement and dimension, showcasing the human commitment of NFPA members and contributors.
The Maximalist look isn’t so new though, as it was introduced in the early 1900s, and made popular in the 50’s-70’s with the more cut and paste collage look. I’m now noticing the once trendy flat illustrations, like that of JetBlue’s advertising, mixed with photography and other media.
The trend toward maximalism is especially prevalent in interior design. Take a look at influencer Rachel Martino, who has turned her loft apartment and studio for “instagram rent” into a collage of bold wallpapers and vibrant colors. In fact, the rise of wallpapers have skyrocketed. The same thing is happening with digital media; taking the print aesthetic of patterns, photography, bold colors, and bringing it into the digital realm.
What is Maximalism?
- Mixing Patterns
- Bold, vibrant colors
- Mixing and matching everything!! Modern and Vintage
It’s not just layering, color palettes are becoming more vibrant. New brands are trying to make their mark, and neon colors are on the rise. The deep Red and Blue colors have been done, but add a neon color for a vibrant contrast, and you’ve made an impact. I predict brands in the future will elevate their brand looks, by applying more colors to their brand guidelines. Striking color contrasts that we’re seeing in the physical world will bleed over into the digital world, which will help dynamic sites be that much more interesting.
This trend is also great for clients looking to “refresh” a brand without completely rebranding,
The Maximalist approach to design isn’t new. I think using it must be done thoughtfully. Purposeful design always leans toward simplicity, but this style opens new doors. Brands should always be cautious not to splash their entire palette in a single ad execution, but a thoughtful application of maximalism can be a great tool to telegraph a lot about a brand and to maximize storytelling. And that’s something every brand can always do a little better.