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Typography Nerds Rejoice: Monotype Studio's 2022 Type Trends Report Is Here

by Rudy Sanchez on 03/02/2022 | 6 Minute Read

The typography experts at Monotype Studio just released their latest Type Trends report for 2022. The trend report is a thoughtfully curated collection of design work from across the globe, demonstrative of today's underlying currents propelling typography and all things letters, numbers, and well, you know the deal.

Prepared under their creative type directors Charles Nix and Phil Garnham's guidance, the report identifies ten trends in type, Neue Nouveau, Svelte Serifs, Loopy, Mix-Up, Organic-Mod, Flux, Throw-Up, It’s a Trap!, Certified Gold, and NF-Type. The most significant macro global trends currently influencing typography identified by the report include the metaverse, COVID, and the destruction of the environment—which Nix and Garnmham point out is the only trend that actually matters. 

After all, there isn't much point designing if there’s no place to design or anyone left to design for, right?

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Monotype’s trend analysis starts with looking back on a previously identified trend, Soft Serif, to place the current set of observations in context, as the report does with several of this year’s trends. Soft Serif describes how the use of grotesque and other geometric kinds of type has waned over the last five years, giving way to more expressive and elaborate typography, a constant in 2022’s report.

“The pandemic accelerated the trends we're seeing now,” Charles told Dieline. “Designers started looking for something more expressive, moving away from types like Helvetica.”

In the first identified trend, designers are turning to typography that calls back to the Art Nouveau movement that started at the turn of the 20th century—a response to the machine-made sameness that overtook craftsmanship. Monotype calls it Neue Nouveau, and it embraces the fluid flourishes and dramatic curves found in nature. You can also see Art Nouveau’s roots in defiance to the norm in its late 60s and early 70s revival, as its wispy and organic shapes paired will well with the psychedelic sensibility of the era. Likewise, Neue Nouveau is an oppositional response to the blocky, functional, and stark types that became popular because of their utility in digital applications.

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Svelte Serifs is another evolution of last year’s Soft Serif trend and seeks the same dramatic effect with extreme type widths in the opposite direction. Instead of going wide, Svelte Serifs go thin, resulting in a more sophisticated contrast than soft serifs. Svelte Serifs evokes strong feelings of nostalgia, and similar to Neue Noveau, is a response to the recent prevalence of geometric typography.

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Loops are fun and whimsical. Without them, rollercoasters would just be brief, boring train rides. Monotype Studios has noticed loops making their way into logotypes and calls it out in 2022 as the Loopy trend. Monotype’s report acknowledges that loopy logotypes are not easy to pull off and are usually not all that great. Still, when it works, like in Camp’s branding, it lends a distinct sense of fun and personality, evoking child-like joy visually.

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Societies continue to embrace fluidity, diversity, ambiguity in identity, celebrating the diversity of humanity. Diversity and inclusion fuel the spirit behind Monotype’s Mix-Up type trend, and designers are expressing a sense of unity through individuality by using mixed and contrasting typography. It can also evoke experimentation and exploration, as in Studio Cohe’s work for Vietnamese burger bistro Ngo?m.

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Building upon the retro-futuristic Blockheads trend, Organic-Mod describes typography that builds using organic shapes around grids. This trend evokes a blend of technology with the natural, reflecting AR and VR advances that mixes meatspace with the internet. Organic-Mod goes back farther than the recent interest in the metaverse, however. Paul Nicholson’s design for musician Aphex Twin is a prominent example of this fusion of the inherent structure around machines with fluid organic shapes. More recently, Partners in Crime’s design for The Nice Company uses a grid inspired by classic wooden ice cream spoons to create typography that evokes nostalgia.

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“Type designers have an infinite number of axes to work off of; it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out in the metaverse,” Nix told me. You can also see that dynamism and responsiveness to external data at play in the next 2022 type trend, Flux.

Variable fonts have so far been an exciting yet underutilized concept. But as digital canvases become more prominent, posters become dynamic, graphics responsive, and design more immersive. Flux describes a trend of typography moving, morphing, and playing with depth and dimension. Monotype’s report cites foundry Typeverything’s work as a noteworthy example of flux typography.

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As an example of flux typography, the font used to spell out our usernames in the metaverse can act as a sort of Web3 mood ring, changing colors based on our stress levels, as reported by our smartwatches, for example.

In a less vain and frivolous use case, Nordish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat recently released the Climate Crisis typeface. This variable type erodes with recorded and projected sea ice levels, a tragically beautiful reminder of greenhouse gas emissions' effect on our planet. Unlike our stress levels, this is information other people on the internet can actually benefit from viewing.

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Monotype’s Throw-Up trend recognizes the elevating or perhaps commercializing of street art. Inspired by a middle ground between a quick tag and full-on mural, Throw-Up type features rounded, balloon-like shapes, multiple layers, and folds. Throw-Up typography has that same immediate and informal voice as its urban inspiration.

Ink traps made smaller text look sharp in print in the past, and they do the same on screens today. Plus, according to Monotype Studio’s It’s a Trap! type trend report, they’re also pretty cool.

Monotype’s All Together typefaces designed for JKR’s M&Ms refresh is an excellent example of ink traps producing a crisp, emotive, and, yes, sweet piece of typography. The ink traps make copy easier to read on an iPhone, sure, but it also literally adds smiles, apropos for a candy brand, even if harvesting cocoa isn’t so fun.

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Bling is back, and Monotype’s Certified Gold type trend describes the emergence of metallic finishes in typography. Metal adds depth to flat letterforms and makes 3D typography literally shine. Metal calls back to nature and craftsmanship, as well as opulence and luxury. Certified Gold is a rejection of flat design and speaks to our fondness for shiny things IRL. A recent example of this trend includes Anheuser-Busch’s recent corporate brand refresh. AB replaces the illustrated eagle for one recast in gold. Finally, in another instance of grotesque type falling out of favor, the American beer stalwart redraws its wordmark in a more elegant script.

No trend report in 2022 would be complete without the mention of crypto and Web3, and Monotype Studio’s type trend report fails to disappoint. Nix, Garnham, and the Monotype Studio team acknowledge the emergence of decentralized marketplaces for typography, such as font.community, but express concern over the lack of licensing frameworks and the environmental cost of crypto. Nonetheless, NFTs are everywhere in 2022, including in typography, whether any of us like it or not.

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Monotype Studio’s trend report comes chockful of exquisite design examples from studios and agencies worldwide, as big as JKR and small as Freytag Anderson. Examples from Asia, Europe, and beyond grace Monotype’s 2022 type trends report. In perhaps another pandemic-induced acceleration, we are now seeing great design from everywhere that is completely unbridled by geography. Are we witnessing the emergence of an aesthetic and new design approach that genuinely speaks to a global and meta-dimensional audience?

Monotype's complete type trends report is now available for download here.

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