June 11th, 2023

Embrace excess but not excessive consumption.

In Part Two of this series, we discuss what we have identified as the key characteristics that define Maximalism in 2023.

What does Maximalism look like?

The combination of these takeaways tap into the current Maximalism trend, and the Gen Z appeal that comes with it. These are key creative decisions that can be made to ensure an on-trend Maximalist outcome, whether that be in graphic design or retail design.

1) Pattern clash

With the death of Vivienne Westwood at the tail end of 2022, a designer best known for the pushing the boundaries of print and pattern – especially the iconic tartan – the design world lost an alternative icon. Famed for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream, her passing left a vacuum in the punk and anarchy scene – a space for a new era of maximalism to exist.

We’re well into 2023 and pattern clashing still remains one of the biggest trends for those wanting to achieve the Maximalist look. It’s hard to master but, when done right, pattern clashing has the ability to tell an emotive story and a distinct personality through the use of bold textiles and graphics. Pattern clashing embraces a wide range of pattern and prints, from animals prints to bold florals and geometric designs. These patterns can be used in combination with each other to create a considered yet layered and eclectic look.

2) Vibrant colours

If Minimalism is associated with nudes, creams and muted colours then bright, bold, and vivid colours are the hallmark of Maximalism. Hues of deep jewel tones, electric neon’s, and rich metallics can be used to create visually striking and cohesive looks. Where interiors are concerned, a bright wall or block coloured piece of furniture can instantly become the focal point of any room.

In terms of print and comms, this may be through the use of acid graphics – characterised by psychedelic patterns that draw inspiration from the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. Acid graphics often feature swirling shapes, distorted forms and bold typography, evoking a sense of movement and energy. This reflects a design that breaks free from the constraints of traditional design and embraces a more experimental, playful approach that celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary culture.

3) Mixing eras

With ready access to multi-era media from film, music and art, designers and consumers have never had a wider pool from which to inspire and align from. Combining multiple styles from various eras is synonymous with maximalism. Vintage and antique pieces should meet contemporary designs, resulting in a curated and personalised space that reflects brand individuality. This is heavily influenced by the driver surrounding sustainability, noted in our previous article, which states the reason for the surge in consumers buying antique and vintage items is to reduce the number of virgin items being manufactured.

The mixing of eras has been experimented through the revival of Riso prints. Invented in Japan in the 1980s as a cheaper alternative to xerography, Riso became ubiquitous with churcher flyers and small business comms. As one colour prints onto the next, the stencil-based medium creates a textural print. Eager to capture the vintage, handmade aesthetic of the bygone era, designers have reimagined the Risograph to create stunning and visually tactile outcomes for graphics of today.

4) Textural layers

‘Layerism’, a new term born out of the contemporary Maximalism movement is, unsurprisingly, the process of layering patterns, furniture and ornaments in the interiors world to achieve depth and dimension. Maximalists believe homes should feel layered to reflect what a real life feels like. Over time, we collect memories and experiences which are then presented though the design of our homes or living spaces, layer upon layer. From plush textiles like velvet and fur to rough-hewn wood and natural fibres like jute and linen, the goal is to create a space that is visually and physically engaging.

Layered graphics are playful and inherently positive. As the want for more hand rendered art becomes something of the now, the style which mimics a childlike expression is becoming more popular. This visual style offers moments of delight for both the creator and the viewer. In a world dominated by silicon and plastic, this playful naivety is refreshing and authentic, evoking a time before rules and regulations. The scrawls and doodles of an unrestrained hand creates these textural layers and makes us feel free and at ease, lightening the mood and endearing us to the art.

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 (You are here)

Part Three – Maximalism in Retail (coming soon)

Part Four – Maximalism in Graphic Design (coming soon)

Part Five – Maximalism: Drivers for change (coming soon)


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