The end of 2023 is nigh, and to keep herself from actually shopping at Black Friday sales, Alex Tinsley spent lots of time waist-deep in trend research. Let’s see what motifs, colors and themes are creeping their way into giftware and surface design for next year! And if you enjoy these trends, be sure to follow along with Alex on Pinterest for more!
Disco Ball Everything
Disco balls have been popping up for a second now but they are truly out of control- anything you can imagine, there’s a disco ball version on the market right now. Cherries, cowboy boots, a bottle of tequila, bacon and eggs, the Virgin Mary, a croissant, all manner of clothing… it’s crazy. Disco ball illustrations are showing up plenty too – and if my IG Discover page isn’t lying to me, disco ball tattoos are a thing.
Big wide stripes in bright circus colors! On everything from homewares to clothes to bags.
Butterflies, Snails and Beetles
Bugs!! I love bugs!! The butterflies seem to overlap with the Y2K stuff (see below). Will we see butterfly hairclips make a come-back? Blending with the claw clip trend.
Especially wavy bubbly stuff or other simple-but-sculptural shapes. Touching a little bit on the Rococo/vaporwave vibe.
Condiments. Sure, why not? Condiments are great. Put ‘em on a blanket. Hang ‘em on your Christmas tree. Pickles and olives seem especially prevalent.
On the other hand, it brings me much joy to tell you that little colorful fishes are suddenly showing up everywhere – with a special emphasis on canned sardines.
Fruit motifs, especially strawberries and bananas, are springing up like crazy. Watermelon and cherries are also holding their own.
Hairclips and Claws
All of a sudden everyone’s making quirky custom hair claws. Hot dog hair claw. Snail hair claw. Hair claws with checkerboards. Hair claws with words. Every trend on this list – put it on a claw. Also: barrettes and small clips of all kinds.
This one feels a bit more grown-up than most of the others. Elaborate and detailed floral motifs, rich sumptuous fabrics, and color palettes, often a dark background color like deep teal or plum.
Puff quilts, puff jackets, puff pillows, puff mugs. Puff puff puff!
In this one, I’m seeing three subcategories: frosting/frilly cake motifs (I’m going to include ice cream in here, too), cherub/cloud/classical sculpture but quirked up a bit (a little bit vaporwave-y, especially when paired with checks), and bows. Bows bows bows. Put ‘em on everything.
Novelty Accent Rugs
Is it just me or did like, half the internet get into making punch needle rugs recently? I very seriously considered it myself. I am obsessed with the proliferation of novelty mini-rugs in the handmade community right now, and they’re seeping into mass-market homewares (though presumably a little less handmade.) You can also find punch needle on cushions, coasters, and even bags.
Pink/orange/peach/teal, pink/red/gold/cream/soft black, blue/teal/orange/gold/brown and rich greens + scrungy greens. I’m also seeing bold color blocking with vivid brights.
A little bit rustic, a little bit grandpa, a little trashy but in a nice way. A slightly more masculine trend, though personally, I’m very into it. Think sturdy boots and trucker hats, woodgrain and flannel and sherpa, novelty beer coozies, and maybe even an ironic tee. Men are growing mustaches again – the difference is that this time I’m into it. Dunno what that says about me.
It’s back in a real way.
- Checkerboard and Tile: The Y2K revival is going strong. Wavy checkerboards are still around, but I’m seeing more regular straight ones in fun colors, as well as related but subtler tile patterns.
- Groovy Daisies: Those super simple ’60s daisy motifs that had a moment in the ’90s are back again. Sometimes these can veer a bit “LimitedToo” for my tastes, but when done well they’re a lot of fun.
- Smiley Faces: It brings me no joy to tell you that the yellow smiley faces are back. I guess every generation gets to live through it once
Still Hangin’ On:
These trends have been going strong for a while but I’m still seeing plenty of them in the “New Arrivals” sections of shops.
- Cowgirl: I’m not mad about it. Seeing more boots and hats than anything else – fewer boots and hats *being worn* than before, for some reason.
- Mushrooms: I feel like I’m seeing more naturalistic depictions lately, though there’s definitely still a major overlap with the Y2K/Groovy stuff.
- Jungle Cats: Literally how? I mostly saw this one at Anthropologie but they are still very into the tigers/leopards/cheetahs, and it’s been like…a lot of years.
Sneakin’ On In:
These trends seem to just be sneaking in – time will tell whether they actually take off!
- Breakfast motifs AND bread in general: I came across a lot of bread lamps.
- UFOs: This makes sense on the heels of the smiley faces and daisies.
- Burgers + Hot dogs: Following naturally from the condiments, fast food motifs are definitely starting to show up.
- Geese: I’m not sure but I think this might be one to watch…
- Alligators/Crocodiles: I’ve heard that dinos are making a comeback, but I’m seeing way more gator motifs than dinos so far.
- “Melting” effects: I saw drippy motifs and melt-looking sculptural effects across categories – I think it’s an extension of the wavy checkerboard.
- Classic Take-Out Bags: Both illustrations and actual reusable bags are based on the disposable versions. You know the ones – “Thank you” with a rose or just “THANK YOU THANK YOU” repeating. Overlaps nicely with the condiments and in some cases, the smiley face.
- Lady Luck: Dice and playing cards are cropping up and I feel like any minute now we’re going to get flaming 8 balls and other gambler-y motifs.
- Soda Cans: Very new but I think we’ll see more of it.
- Flamingos: Kind of always a popular summer motif, but I weirdly found a lot of flamingo holiday ornaments this year.
Alexandra Tinsley is a designer, illustrator and crafter living in Michigan with two dogs, her partner, and a lot of struggling houseplants. She specializes in brand identities with a retro kick, repeating pattern design, spot illustration, and merch design (pins, patches, stickers, tees, etc.) She has a soft spot for 60s/70s motifs, bold florals, nature puns, and holiday kitsch (especially Valentine’s and Halloween) and absolutely loves working with businesses owned by women and LGBTQ+ folks, especially brands that dance to their own beat.