More and more loudly, designers are buzzing about a new trend called maximalism. A reaction against minimalism, maximalism is an aesthetic of excess, opulence, and fantasy. “More is more!,” say the maximalists. This trend is especially taking hold in the interior design world, where we’re starting to see more bold upholsteries, elaborate details, and objets d’art filling showrooms and catalog spreads. Many of the maximalist designs cite 70s eclecticism and 30s Art Deco as sources of inspiration.
What’s causing this new trend? A lot of it is simple boredom with the limitations of the long-time reign of minimalism. Some artists and designers have suggested that the influence of social media, with its emphasis on constant visual stimulation, nostalgia, and curation, has lead to the rise of maximalism.
The key to the maximalist design philosophy is layering. Layering patterns, layering textures, layering images. Instead of clean, simple elements arranged neatly (with lots of white space), the maximalist piles element upon element, going for opulence and excess. A good designer doesn’t just mindless amass — to truly work, there has to be some underlying structure to give cohesiveness to visual chaos. Many designers use reoccurring color notes to tie maximalist designs together.
Elements of the maximalist trend graphic designers can explore:
- Bold and rich colors
- Lots and lots of patterns and textures — sometimes even clashing ones! Be brave!
- Layering textures, colors, patterns, and images
- Ornamentation — Break out of the “tidy sans-serif” box and start using those fancy decorative typefaces (or draw your own!). Embrace illustration, patterns, and horror vacui.
- Mixing and Matching Vintage Elements — playfully mix together vintage-inspired typefaces and imagery
- Luxurious Materials — time to go to your printer and start looking into those fancy gloss coats, foils, and die cuts.
If you’re feeling inspired by this list, toss aside your books on Swiss Style and start embracing excess like a rock star.