AI generated illustration of someone resembling Bob Ross who is smiling and in the background the sun is ascending from a picturesque landscape of snowy mountains, forests, river and a house.

Dark, weird and ruled by AI: Design trends in 2024

January 2024

As is the tradition for this time of year, we have consulted the oracle of creativity and the divining rods of design to bring you our trend forecast for 2024. And we predict dark times ahead. Not in the sense of horrible, bad things happening (let's hope so), but in the sense that everyone and their dog will be using dark mode on their smartphone. Meanwhile, kinetic typography will be the graphic design trend of the year, and the internet is going to get even weirder, largely thanks to AI. Talking of which, this will be the year that AI finally does take over. Enjoy our creative trends 2024.

1. The dark age: design for dark mode

Dark mode is where the display setting on your mobile or laptop is turned to show light colour text against a dark or black screen (instead of the default dark text against a light-coloured screen). Apparently, it’s better for your battery life and your eyesight, and using it in the evening could even help you sleep better.

It is not a new idea. But more and more people are using it and expecting it as a feature on their device. And it means that whatever you’re designing, if it’s digital, you’re going to have to put more thought into how your beautiful creation is going to look in dark mode. And you can find some tips on designing dark mode emails here.

two screenshots of the same email, one with light colours and one with dark colours for dark mode

2. Mask appeal

A graphic design trend that’s been creeping in more and more is masking. This is a technique where you create a mask out of a shape or type and layer it over an image, whether moving or still. It’s striking, simple and effective.

It can also be easily adapted for different formats: Swiss design studio Tristesse played with it in their series for the Basel Sinfonietta and it works beautifully in print and digital posters. You’ll be playing “spot the masking” all the way through 2024.

two poster designs by swiss design studio Tristesse for the Basel Sinfonietta

3. It's finally happening: the AI flippening

We’ve long been wondering when it would happen. And we predict that 2024 will be forever remembered as the year of AI Content Flippening.

‘The flipping what?’ you might ask. The flippening is the moment that the majority of the content you choose to consume is generated by AI. It’s the tipping point, the solstice that marks the beginning of a new era ruled by our AI overlords.

It sounds a bit alarming, but for creatives, it should be exciting. As we predicted last year, AI image tools and video generators are getting better by the day, and opening up endless creative possibilities, as elespacio’s designers found when they played round with them. Time to fully master the art of the prompt.

AI generated image of a swiss army knife that also looks like a fish body - army knife and fish hybrid

4. A moving story: kinetic typography

Kinetic typography is the technical term for ‘moving text’. Again, it’s not new – Alfred Hitchcock is credited as being the first to use it in the opening titles of a feature film in North by Northwest (1959). But it seems to be everywhere of late – you see it on websites, music videos, ads, animations – and it will play an increasingly important part in brand design.

Motion designers will be busy in 2024 creating all-singing, moving and dancing typographical brand identities. When done well, it’s a creative, engaging – and often rather beautiful – way to tell a story. See the work of &Form for Tokyo Dome City and  Kiln Studio for the Too Much to Watch event for a taste. 

example for kinetic typography, screenshot of animation by Kiln Studio for the Too Much to Watch event

5. Embracing the weird

If you think 2023 was weird, then buckle up, because things are about to get weirder. Last year, we talked about a ‘Morbid Opulence’, a kind of strangely beautiful decay, being the artistic aesthetic du jour in response to mind-boggling woes of the world (pandemics, tech wars, culture wars, real wars, economic downturn, climate change, etc.).

Well, those woes are still here, folks. And the weird stuff that’s been gathering momentum in the digital realm is an attempt to recreate the narrative and find something new and meaningful in the face of it all.

We’re talking about the rise of AI boyfriends, “goblin mode” and the macabre experiments with Dall-E and Midjourney, in the vein of dissociative_dreams. And all of this was bound to feed into brand design, sooner or later. There’s something decidedly eerie about some of the recent AI campaigns by Vestiaire, for example, and the ‘fake’ OOH ads by the likes of Maybelline and Jacquemus, although playful, were the result of some seriously far-out-of-the-box thinking. 

As the boundary between our digital and real lives becomes increasingly blurred, and AI-generated content becomes increasingly ubiquitous, things are only going to become weirder over the next year and beyond.  

AI genarated image of pale pink creature with a fish head and moster teeth and a chicken bosy with long legs wearing a tutu dress and pink lycra boots