Monotype’s type trends report predicts 90s and Y2K grunge, AI-inspired surrealism and a return of serif fonts
For its fourth annual report, the team wanted to focus on the impact that culture has on type, and what type trends tell us about our culture going forward. And this year, nostalgia is inescapable.
- Yaya Azariah Clarke
- 7 February 2024
Today, type and technology global specialist Monotype has released its fourth annual Type Trends report. Curated by the company’s type designers Jordan Bell and Damien Collot, it collates and explores ten trends in type and brand design set to shape the arts and wider culture throughout 2024. It spans the creative stratosphere’s unmissable AI-inspired surrealism, the resurgence of 90s and Y2K aesthetics throughout music subcultures, and the mighty comeback of serif fonts. Alongside additional trends, the report also explores the particular nostalgia in design, derived from music subcultures, which also lends itself to the report’s art direction, which reimagines the trends as worn LP covers that connect each of them to a specific musical genre.
In this year’s report, there is an overarching departure from “the trend of cuddly, squishy, empathetic fonts,” says Jordan Bell. A trend which Monotype attributes to the aftermath of the alienation and stresses of the pandemic. The type specialists instead see heritage and more traditional serif fonts taking centre stage with many “taking inspiration from scenes like grunge, jungle and early rave culture”. This can be seen largely in the trend ‘Whatever’ which encompasses colourful pixel play – inspired heavily by flyers of the time – big bold fonts, digital gradients and drop shadows, complementing the current rise of Y2K nostalgia across music, fashion and film.
Elsewhere, another trend ‘EverythingAllOfTheTime’ is a big hit. Reflecting the wave of AI-generated art the team have unpacked the rise of designers using a plethora of typefaces, textures and technology in a single design. Inspired by Bo Burnham’s Welcome to the Internet, the trend consists of layered and saturated patterns, and themes of surrealism, including AI-generated alternate glyphs and shapeshifting fonts, which will make you wonder if designers inspire these tools or the tools inspire the designers.
Then you have, ‘De-form’, a trend of which the team is equally reflective of the societal impact on its emergence. Marked by its roots in “aesthetic disobedience” it traces designers leaving behind “bland and clean” visuals with typographic distortion. Often featuring type that is tightly arranged blurring the lines of legibility.
If you were wondering where the serif fonts are don’t fret, Monotype also marks its comeback. ‘Return of the Serif’ not only reflects on it as another portion of nostalgia, but delves into why brands are finding comfort in these classic typefaces with rebrands that pay homage to their legacy. And, ‘Quirk’ also focuses on brands and the desire to toe the line between innovation and familiarity for the customer. This explores quirks from the angle of subtlety, where brands are often having a slightly offbeat feel while using reliable forms and sans serifs.
Summarising this year's report, Monotype creative type director Damien Collot, says: “type is both a reflection and a catalyst of cultural conversations that shape our everyday lives. In our fourth report we wanted to explore what type tells us about culture and the world against a backdrop of break-neck speed innovation and social change.”
And when it comes to the design for the report, sentiments are similar. Using Midjourney AI further reflects “the tension between nostalgia for the old analogue world and our immersion in a new AI-infused digital age.” Ibrahim Gharib, Monotype designer and curator of the report says, “we wanted to shine a light on the powerful influence of music on type, and at the same time mirror the way that designers and brands are using AI to unlock surprising new ways to be creative.” He adds: “the result is a nostalgic visual dreamscape, where modern design trends meet the cultural experiences of the past while being reshaped by the hopes and creative tools of 2024.”
Click here to access and read Monotype’s Type Trends report for 2024.
Copyright © Monotype, 2024
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.