February 20th, 2024


Manifesting a positive outlook through sensitive design.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Let In The Light and Dark Mode trends
  • The driving forces behind why these trends are happening
  • Their connection to the consumer psyche

[Image Credit: Dusk Blue Café]

potrait of man

Why are we searching for the light?

Emerging design trends often reflect a tapestry of converging cultural threads woven by evolving consumer mindsets. In our recent report, we were intrigued by the prevalence of light/dark being employed in design, from brand & graphics to interiors & experiences. Spaces are now being designed more commonly with a sensitivity given to the emotional effect it has on its users over mere product visibility. Sunset gradients are being employed as graphic devices softening the digital content sphere and have even taken to people searching for the best light for curated online presence, following viral trends. With the warm glow of the golden hour seemingly influencing all aspects of our lives, we ask, why is this happening?

To understand this trend, we delve into the global zeitgeist and societal mindset. Today, individuals worldwide grapple with permacrisis – a constant state of crisis fuelled by economic turmoil, political controversies, and global challenges like war and climate change. This relentless negativity prompts the question: Is the light/dark design trend a subconscious response to these overwhelming anxieties?

sun silhouette

A recent WHO study revealed a stark 25% rise in global anxiety and depression, potentially shaping consumer behaviour. This translates to an uptick in “lipstick effect” purchases, where individuals cope with anxieties by indulging in affordable luxuries like self-care and wellness products. This isn’t just limited to economic downturns; even amidst permacrisis, people seek small indulgences for a psychological boost, normalcy, or even escapism. The key takeaway? Consumers prioritise well-being, creating opportunities for affordable “treats” in uncertain times.

Rising awareness of well-being and resilience in uncertain times drive consumers towards meaningful experiences and affordable escapes. While spending shifts towards smaller indulgences (e.g., 72% UK consumers reducing dining/entertainment – Barclaycard), luxury persists! Consumers reward brands that align with values and offer more. Businesses must adapt to this nuanced desire for meaningful, value-driven experiences to thrive in these uncertain times.

artistic photo of food

Dusk Blue Café

Taking on board the reality of today’s world, we can see why unique concepts like that of the ‘Dusk Blue Café’ are opening up, in a time where consumers are tightening their belts in terms of spending and seeking to protect their mental wellness. The Dusk Blue Café is a great example of how the purchase of a premium coffee has increased value to the consumer with the onward experience and care the space has for its patrons. The Café interior itself, features lower lighting levels that enhance the experience of the sunset lighting present in the space.

The design of the café makes for a contemplative experience for the coffee lover, where they can steal a moment of harmony and peace, an escapism from the busy metropolitan lifestyle of the city. The Café brand and interior design is drawn from its name ‘dusk blue’ which ‘means the comfort gained from seeing the sunset and the depression inherent in each person.’ The café seeks to offer relief from worldly worries, with a focus on coping with emotions and the dichotomy of daily life – with the sunset experience making it a destination for rest and refreshment.

[Image Credit: Dusk Blue Café]

Veuve Clicquot

Visually, sunrise and sunsets symbolise a reconnection with nature and a realisation that despite the difficulties we face, there is in fact still beauty in the world. Past social media trends such as the golden hour selfie or the craze for sunset lamps are echoes of people searching for moments of beauty, a proverbial light in the dark.

Veuve Clicquot’s “Solaire Culture” exhibition embodies the light trend, both literally and metaphorically. The luxury store’s interior design celebrates the sun’s role in champagne production and honours pioneering women like Madame Clicquot, a revolutionary force in the industry. This multi-layered experience immerses visitors in the brand’s story, showcasing its land, heritage, and connection to powerful female artists. By framing the exhibition with uplifting sunset hues, Veuve Clicquot emphasizes the light’s significance and aligns itself with the design trend.

[Image Credit: Veuve Clicquot]

These are but a few examples of how this trend is a response to worldwide stimulus, seeking to remind us to slow down, give ourselves respite and to be resilient. What initially seems like a simple visual trend, is actually driven by a broad confluence of societal issues, that we as a people seek respite and even escapism from. Making sense of all the threads that make up the present global tapestry is how we can learn to react creatively to problems, understanding what consumers want to see in the future and why.

[Image Credit: Veuve Clicquot]

Takeaway box

  • Personal wellness has become front of mind for the majority of consumers, as a response to the stressors of life.
  • Soft sunset illuminations provide comfort and safety
  • This trend is influencing both 2D and 3D design

How can your brand leverage design dualities?

At Design4Retail, shifting behaviours in society inspire our creative vision, ensuring our designs are not only visually impactful but are backed by current industry insights and strategy.

Let’s talk!