June 21st, 2023

Understanding the why.

Whenever we start to think about potential future opportunities, start with the WHY. In the final part of this series, we take a deeper dive into what drivers are causing a shift in trends.

Drivers are the large-scale forces that shape behaviour. The main consumer behaviours we’re seeing in society today can be defined by three key drivers…

1) Made by humans

This driver is essentially about leveraging the artist’s touch. As the world is becoming increasingly more digital, physical art is becoming something of a rarity, leaving consumers craving the more relatable, skilful and process driven practice.

In retaliation to AI generators Midjounrey, DALL-E2 and Chat GPT we will see a resurgence of hand rendering and pure human, emotive skill. Although there is room for both digital and physical – the presence of one does not mean the other cannot exist – the tactility, anarchy, ceremony, relatability, and awe-inspiring nature of outcomes by artisan creators are unparalleled and rally against the democratisation of AI generated image.

Humans feel the pull of the physical. Analog art helps consumers to be more present, be more aware of their surroundings, and help bring back the enjoyment of process and experience.  In addition, there is also the danger of AI, or similar, generated images evolving into one homogenised style that lacks personality and makes it difficult to distinguish individual styles that can make an artist’s work so instantly recognisable. Many consumers will reject the perfection that AI delivers in favour of the serendipitous mistakes that define design from a human perspective. Celebrating the imperfect, embracing the ceremonious nature of physical art and seeking the irreplaceable and exclusive.

2) Hyper-physicality

What’s real in a post-truth world? As the world becomes less tolerable and more demanding, consumers will seek to disassociate and escape through the means of hyper physical experiences.

The normalisation of natural psychedelics will gain traction as an acceptable form of self-care for mental health and will become more widely recognised. The successors to Decentraland and Meta will introduce mainstream artificial worlds, avatars, and digital lives, even more so than the metaverses we have available to us now, providing a vital getaway from the emerging dystopia caused by cultural, social and environmental challenges.

We will see this feed into graphics via hyper-normal set of visual standards. We have already seen Surrealism make a re-emergence in the fashion sphere at the latest Paris fashion week, but we will also see Surrealism infiltrate more industries as it has done before, but now, the more outlandish the better. The arts will amplify and combine photo realism to be sharper and more vivid than the real world – an escapism illustrated graphically.

3) Communal affinity

Having emerged since the pandemic, in a time when there was so much disconnect, this driver was centred around rebuilding community, which we are still seeing the impact of, even years later. The sense of longing for human interaction still remains but has taken on a different meaning as society has evolved and faced new challenges. Consumers are looking to share ideas, work and collaborate more, focussing on what unites us and making a statement though a shared voice.

The importance of community will intensify in some groups as the realities of individualism receive mainstream criticism and while the culture wars play on evermore intrusive ways, consumers will look to brands that adopt a unifying approach, rather than a divisive tone. Consumers will align themselves with brands that understand them, and make space for society’s stories, rejecting companies with no room for diversity.

Communicating community will be executed by a combination of styles, cultures, ideas and opinions, allowing for a powerful aesthetic whilst also being cause-driven.

In June, we touch on Maximalism’s roots, explore what design choices define Maximalism, analyse Maximalism in graphic and retail design and finally, outline the current drivers that are influencing this movement in 2023.


Part One – Maximalism: What’s The Trend?

Part Two – Maximalism: The Toolkit

Part Three – Maximalism in Retail

Part Four – Maximalism in Graphic Design

Part Five – Maximalism: Drivers for change (You are here)


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