2014 creative trends: how leading creatives will be developing their work in the year ahead

Every new year brings new trends in how our work looks, how it works and how audiences encounter and interact with it. So what's in store in 2014?

Following our look at how some of our favourite creatives want the creative industries to change in 2014, here we’ve asked them how the projects they create will be different in the year ahead. Again, we’re not asking them to formulate overall industry trends but to focus on their own practice, but tell us what they want to build based on the external influences of other industries, the demands of their own clients – both high-profile and up-and-coming – and the opportunities offered by new technologies and platforms.

As with yesterday’s feature, the wide focus of the creative industries means that there’s lots to discuss – but the same topics do come up again and again. ‘Flat design’ and a focus on simplicity – kickstarted by Microsoft with Windows 8 and put into the wider consciousness by Apple’s iOS7 – has become familiar to a mainstream audience and will trickle outwards to add its influence to the breadth of digital design projects (though unfortunately sometimes whether it’s relevant or not).

Alongside this is a feeling that the more we pare back design, the more important a focal point in motion becomes. This could be the use of animation in an interface design to show users how to interact with it, or it could be putting video at the heart of a website design to really engage truly interested consumers, or turning an illustration into an animation to encourage flitting eyes to spend time with it.

This isn’t just about what clients and their customers want, it’s also drawn from a desire in many creatives to try new things: to move from static forms to ones in motion, to look outside your current toolset (whether learning new tools acquired through bundles such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud or looking beyond digital tools completely) and to push the boundaries of what’s possible – something we’re seeing throughout these features and which runs throughout yesterday’s feature and tomorrow’s piece on the biggest influences for 2014.  

Aesthetically, how will your work in 2014 be different from that in 2013?

"I think that we're seeing some very interesting trends coming through from an aesthetics point of view that will start to influence our work. I recently attended a presentation given by our sister agency Lowe Counsel and some of the trends they were talking about are already starting to get traction – particularly trends like 'Dark Matter', 'Grid' and 'Glitch'.

"I'm particularly interested in the 'Glitch' trend, which uses the notion of a programming glitch to deliberately create something new – there are some great examples of people using glitches in Google Maps."
Alan Parker, MD, Lowe Epic

"The design of digital interfaces will be a lot flatter in 2014, thanks to the influence of Microsoft's Metro style and Apple's surprising homage."
Andy Budd, partner, Clearleft

"Aesthetics matter as they tell you how a thing wants to be used. In other words, they matter in the construction of affordances. And, of course, in creating an emotional relationship.

 "These are all very important in making objects that have character and likeability: objects that appeal to the irrational, emotional, unpredictable beings that we design for. And yet, we also have a preoccupation with aesthetics – usually at the cost of overlooking the essential role function plays.

"Our challenge, in 2014 and beyond, will be to apply these concerns to open source to create open products that earn widespread acceptance in the consumer space."
Aral Balkan, user experience designer and founder, Indie

"There has been a rise in lighter, more fun animation work over the past several months – big thanks to [this year's most awarded campaign] Dumb Ways to Die for that – which we've also been trying to do more of.

"We also just brought on a new creative director whose style fits this aesthetic; very excited to get him going. One of the first projects Leviathan has slated for 2014 will be with Cartoon Network, a group that fully understands fun and whimsy – so that could set the tone for other projects follow throughout the year."
Chad Hutson, executive producer, Leviathan

"I create a lot of character-based work, but I love to focus on design-led projects too. So I’m constantly aiming to vary my work further by utilising processes and techniques that I’ve used on more conceptual work. I’d like a balance where I can produce highly polished and also more raw types of work. This breadth will hopefully encourage more unpredicted opportunity, and plant seeds for client’s ideas.

 "I’m also aiming to breathe new life into some old ideas. I’m a fan of recycling ideas in differing styles and techniques that were difficult to achieve until now."
Darren Dubicki, director/designer, Aardman Animations

"[In 2013], bright multi-coloured, low-poly forms and flat graphics were the big movers. Bright colours appear to be getting muted but [we’re] still using a wide palette. Flat graphics lead by the UI trend will continue being strong for at least the first part of 2014. Simplicity seems to be the key word at the moment and some interesting clean designs are emerging from Asia.

"As much as I love the vintage, flowing style – it seems to have had its day."
Dave Haupt, creative director, MPC's Motion Design Studio

"Ideally more video content – [and an] even greater focus on detail."
Ian Wharton, creative director, AKQA

"[I’ll be aiming] for better quality and originality – originality in ideas, but just as much in execution.”
Jenny Theolin, director, Soapbox & Sons

"I hope it will move further away from being anchored into just one aesthetic. As alluded to in the previous questions, aesthetics are generally cheap and easy to echo. Having a recognisable style – by hand, design or otherwise – is great but it's the judgement, taste, knowledge, insight, vision and ideas that hold the true value."
Jon Burgerman, illustrator and food enthusiast

"Aesthetically, iOS7 – with its flat UI styling – made a great impact in 2013. I would expect that we start to see more subtle ripples as the trend finds its natural rhythm.

 "The aesthetics of 2014 for me will be less around the visual design and much more on the communication design, working with much more real-time data and looking at ways of communicating beyond this into the pre-now, visualising the anticipated."
Oli Shaw, service design lead, Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive

"I will be spending more time working with photographers who are not from Europe or North America."
Rebecca Swift, head of creative planning, iStock

“I'm keen to reduce UI clutter. People don't want to deal with lots of buttons, lengthy copy and cramped information. An interface should be direct, natural, approachable and easy to use."
Shaun Tollerton, visual designer, ustwo

"I have no idea — SomeOne’s style is to be multi faceted in it's approach. Our 'BrandWorld' philosophy enables us to be very agile in the way work is created. Our desire to be progressive in the work we do means that we leave no stone unturned while developing new design work — this can lead to a more interesting body of work.

"This year we have employed gestures, flora and fauna, mascots, colour, data and 5-year-olds. There's no telling what's round the corner."
Simon Manchipp, co-founder, SomeOne

"It’s difficult to say. I never make a conscious effort to change what I do – though my style has changed throughout the years. It’s a natural organic progression.

"I’ve noticed that my work develops more when I receive fewer commissions. This is because I have more time to experiment and explore different avenues. When you are commissioned, it is usually because the client wants a style that is tried and tested, so experimentation and development of a style is restricted."
Stanley Chow, illustrator

"I'm aiming to move away from the digital finish a little more next year. I've had a taste of working with traditional materials this year and I'd like to take that much further if possible. Less anchor point and pixel pushing; more handmade.

"Basically, I don't want to be restricted by what I can do in Adobe's products."
Steven Bonner, designer

"The last six months of 2013 have been a real period of growth and development for Tigz Rice Studios, not only from a photography perspective but from a business perspective too. Along with the website rebrand back in June, a lot of work has gone into developing both the brand and my signature vintage glamour aesthetic to make them suitable for a more commercial market.

"I’ve also been working hard behind the scenes on my video skills as an addition to the services available at the studio. Its been a lot of hard work, but its definitely paid off and 2014 will see the start of some exciting new creative projects."
Tigz Rice, photographer, Tigz Rice Studios

"I have absolutely no idea. When the phone rings I never know who or what type of business is on the other end of the line. I try not to subscribe to trends and I don't have a house style, but it's also really difficult to create something that's new, yet still familiar. As long as I'm pushing myself and clients are happy, then so am I."  
Tom Actman, founder & creative director, Mat Dolphin

Read on to discover how their work will be different in form and function >>>

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