By Chélin Ramos, Art Director

If the last few months have proven anything, it’s that nothing is certain but everything is possible. The spiralling spread of COVID-19 across the globe has brought society to its knees, launching a series of transformative events that will most likely impact lifestyle and financial choices for generations to come. This was not a welcomed change, but some change can be a good thing.

Today is World Graphic Design Day and, as art director at Stratitude, I thought it appropriate to share a little appreciation for the creative field I love, by thanking some of the trends that shaped the industry and put graphic design on the map. Now, more than ever, our skills are proving their worth as we find new, creative ways to keep our clients relevant.

We’re only four months into 2020 and I can honestly say that I have a newfound love and respect for the decade we left behind. I was so eager to jump into the new one that I never took a moment to look back and thank the old one for being so… wonderful, and for giving us so much.

Thank you for bringing us the smartphone

2010s, you had some unexpected moments. Spandex made a comeback thanks to the success of Superhero movies, TV show Game of Thrones killed off its hero nine episodes in, and Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. You certainly had a sense of humour. But there’s one aspect of the 2010s to which we owe a debt of gratitude: the smartphone. The rise of smartphones has had an indelible effect on graphic and digital design. The mobile wave revolutionised the world; changing how we consume information, communicate and behave. The increased accessibility to the masses has made people more interested in design, recognising its value-driven ability to communicate complex information in a visual and interactive way.

Thank you for introducing digital platforms

With the ever-growing popularity of social media and online marketing, the need to filter through a very design-saturated and competitive market is at an all-time high and graphic design is thriving. Reporting on their financial results for 2019, content creation software giant Adobe confirmed a fresh demand for the company’s creative solutions, with annual growth of 24% – a new revenue record for the company. As a result of smaller screens, more complicated mobile interactions and technology that enables you to see, hear and interact with almost everything around you, companies have conceded to the fact that certain functionalities must take priority and designers have been called to action, their expertise well-suited to this function.

Thank you for proving us wrong

Interestingly, many (not all) of the attempts to predict what the 2010s would bring are, in hindsight, laughably incorrect. QR Codes were branded the future of mobile marketing, Facebook’s death by some or other social platform (name already forgotten) was imminent, and tablets – not smartphones – would revolutionise computing. If these predictions actually materialised, who knows the impact they would have had on our industry.

The situation we find ourselves in today is proof that anything can alter the course of our social and cultural trends, shifting the trajectory of design in the process. But just like any living, breathing organism – design will continue to adapt to its environment and, if threatened, will fight its way back.

There are some hard lessons to be learned; everything gets replaced, no idea is sacred and no product lifespan is guaranteed. Remember the iPod? Maybe someday someone will say: Remember the smartphone? It’s possible. Maybe not in my lifetime, but it is possible. The 2010s proved how unpredictable technology can be and how the smallest change directly affects consumer behaviours. 2020 is proving how little we know and how little we can control. My point is, as the world keeps changing, so too will design.

Like so many others, we at Stratitude have been called on to use our creative problem-solving capabilities to keep our clients relevant and ensure they remain top-of-mind during this time. We can no longer look to conventional methods of thinking, but rather identify new solutions to problems that didn’t exist a few weeks ago (read more about our creative problem solving solutions here). Along with a sound strategy, design has once again been called to the frontlines, and the last 10 years have set us up perfectly for the challenge.

So, better late than never, I have to say thank you 2010s. You were determined, you were inventive, and – taking our present circumstances into consideration – you were a breeze. Not only did you give design a renewed energy, but you secured its position as a powerful business tool and made it an industry the world can’t live without.

P.S. 2020s, you have very large shoes to fill.