Forward Thinking: What can the creative world expect in 2023?

There’s a new era of design on the horizon, and it goes hand in hand with technology. We look forward to the year ahead to uncover the trends and topics, worries and wonders that are in store for the creative community.


It’s Nice That’s 2023 Forward Thinking campaign is supported by Material Design, whose latest design system update, Material You, signals a radical new way to think about design for the entire tech industry. Material You explores a more humanistic approach to design, celebrating the tension between design sensibility and personal preference, and not shying away from emotion. Click here to find out more.

Identity coded by Yannick Gregoire.
Generative type made with
Phase by Elias Hanzer.

Oh 2022. What a ride you were. When we published our last Forward Thinking series, we were in a period of excitement: Covid restrictions were being lifted, opportunities were growing and the introduction of hybrid working had many reassessing their work-life balance. Hope and normality were starting to bloom. And then, with the continued pandemic, war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis and countless winter flus making an appearance, the year started to get more unpredictable and uncertain.

That said, it wasn’t all bad. Amongst the chaos, there has been great innovation, especially in the realm of technology and design. From AI to generative typography, accessible systems to customisable experiences, new tools have been popping up all over the place. And if these tools are applied to creative work in the right way, they can help creatives improve their practices and, ultimately, the world.

In the third instalment of our annual series Forward Thinking, we look at the topic that’s most likely been on every creative’s mind: the future of design. Despite the outlook for next year (and beyond) continuing to look a little rocky, one thing we do know is that technology is here to stay and it’s going to have a large impact on the creative industry and community. So, how exactly will these new technologies influence creative practices, what tools are set to emerge, and – perhaps most importantly – should we be worried?

With new technologies appearing daily, many may feel lost – stifled even – at the thought of keeping up with it all. Writer Alif Ibrahim speaks with industry leaders to discuss what new tech is on the horizon, how they deal with the unfamiliar and why there’s often nothing hugely new. Space 10, &Walsh, Universal Everything and Studio Moniker each share their insights on the matter, offering up tips and predictions to help the creative industry better understand the future (and fear it less, too). Hint: It’s not as scary as you might think.

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece by Ray Masaki, the writer and designer discusses the ways in which typography can be used to unlock a more inclusive future. Despite the industry being more diverse than ever before, there’s still a long way to go, he argues – and type has a large part to play in that. Describing fonts as a “cultural ecosystem” that has ways of closing doors for minorities, Ray looks to the past, present and future to unravel how inclusive thinking from the ground up will positively impact the future.

Continuing the discussion around typography is Ksenya Samarskaya, a multi-disciplinary designer and writer who gives us a rundown of the five key type trends set to make waves over the next 12 months. From the generative to the hand-crafted, coded to the politically engaged, there’s a whole load of exciting (and necessary) trends making appearances – and technological innovation can be thanked for that. Speaking to designers Rajshree Saraf, Ginapaolo Tucci, Sanchit Sawaria, Yehwan Song, Laura Hilbert, Bobby Joe Smith III and Eino Korkala, Ksenya uncovers how the role of the designer has changed, and how these future trends can be applied.

Accessibility has been an increasingly discussed topic in recent years and it’s definitely not going to be losing pace. In an article written by It’s Nice That’s Liz Gorny, they ask: What does a truly accessible future look like? By diving into the frameworks, tools and perspectives shaping accessible design today, this thoughtful and thorough piece discusses what accessibility means, why the topic is on the rise, and how designers can incorporate more accessible systems into their work. Trifle Studio, Charlotte Fereday, Project Inkblot, Innocean Berlin and Beatrice Caciotti all share their thoughts on the matter and the work they’re doing to increase accessibility in design.

And last but not least, by talking to the team at Google’s Material Design, we dig deep into the subject of personalisation. Personalisation systems have been developing at a rapid pace, with devices, tools and softwares adapting to better suit the user and their various needs and requirements. We’re moving ever further away from the one-size-fits-all approach. With knowledge shared by the team, be prepared to have your eyes opened as to what’s currently achievable in the new update of Material You – and what might be in store for the year (and years) to come.

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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