Is graphic design becoming more crafty?
In the latest edition of our newsletter The Index, we explore where our increasing interest in analogue design comes from, what it offers and where the trend might take us next.
- Liz Gorny
- 22 March 2023
This article was first published in The Index – our fortnightly newsletter spotlighting visual trends and creative talent.
You could pin our growing appetite for analogue graphic design down to a few things. Perhaps it’s a kick back against the rise of sleek digital 3D work, an interest in left field artistic processes, or perhaps in materials related to our childhood – clay, Lego, or even blow pens – appearing in a more refined setting. Whatever the reason, a number of our most-read graphic design stories of 2022 were about designers embracing analogue approaches, including a story about the designer Emma Bers using Play Doh to produce music posters.
One of the upsides of hand-made design approaches is intriguing textures. Craft and tactility tend to go hand, and the latter topped trend reports for 2023. In Pentawards’, the packaging platform cited Raül Cobos from Irübi, a design studio which has previously produced hand-made sprouting wine labels using leaves and turmeric, among other things. In the report, Raül explains how neuromarketing research shows that our sensory experience of a product can activate a feeling of higher quality and value. “A product’s packaging surface is the most intimate intercourse between the brand and the user, and the most powerful ‘first impression maker’,” says Raül.
If you’ll forgive the shameless plug, hand-tooled design also appeared in our very own 2023 trend piece on typography. In it, writer Ksenya Samarskaya spoke to the designer Laura Hilbert, who has worked across numerous graphic design projects that encourage touch and interaction. Laura explained “modern technology often tries to make the process frictionless”. Craft, on the other hand, “rewards with more diversity and more successful failure”.
Disciplines linked to craft are often wrongfully lumped in with child’s play, but there is hidden value in this assumption too. Analogue methods offer designers the chance to experiment beyond the boundaries of standard practice. And, in a time when creative burnout is rife, perhaps this approach can present particularly important benefits.
Moving further into 2023, we’ve already seen a brilliantly crafty project from Beijing-based studio Pay2Play, delivering hand-stitched branding for clothing label Déficeler. The project might also offer a glimpse into the direction of the trend going forward. Tactility no longer has to mean just squishy, naive forms, it is also becoming a favoured method in bespoke commercial projects too.
Below we’ve collated a selection of designers and studios redefining the concept of craft in the industry.
Yuna sees tactility as a way to make design more “memorable”; it’s true we haven’t stopped thinking about a scratch card-style poster she made for the exhibition Beyond Heritage since last speaking to the designer.
Codea Studio: Jamecs (Copyright @ Codea, 2022)
Rupa Anurendra: Short Life Long Lunch (Copyright © Rupa Anurendra, 2022)
Pay2Play: Déficeler (Copyright @ Déficeler, 2022)
Håndværk (Copyright © Yuna Kim, 2022)
Laura Hilbert: Typografischer Spielplatz (Copyright © Laura Hilbert, 2020)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.