Admit it: sometimes you wish you could gel up your fauxhawk, put on those thick-rimmed glasses, hop in the Escalade and hit up your Top 8 one more time. You’ve got nostalgia.
There’s no shame in wanting to bring the 2000s back. And if anyone tells you it’s too soon to rock some vintage Uggs or that the world’s not ready for a cupcake comeback, remind them that Y2K babies will be legal adults this year. Makes you a little nostalgic for the design trends of the decade, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at the power of nostalgia in design.
Nostalgia is a sentimental view of the past that momentarily brings you back in time. Music, images, logos and even color schemes can trigger feelings of nostalgia, and companies use it all the time to connect with their consumers on a more comfortable, personal level. Sometimes marketers use nostalgia to court a specific consumer demographic. Other times, it makes a brand feel more wholesome because we often view the past as a simpler, happier time.
Brands also use retro packaging to highlight a return to an earlier version of a product—like Pepsi, who promoted a limited edition product sweetened with sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup.
Want to use design nostalgia? That’s hot.
When you’re trying to incorporate throwback and retro trends into your design, it can be easy to end up with something that just looks dated. The key to working retro trends into your design is to find a way to make them feel fresh instead of just trotting them out for the sake of using an older design.
Using nostalgia should be a deliberate choice. Decide how and why you want to use it. Does playing on your consumers’ fond memories complement your brand? Or does it just feel random?
Our favorite 2000s-era trends didn’t spring out of nothing.
Every decade, design trends shift away from trends of the previous decade and build on nostalgia for earlier times. The natural wood tones in 90s decór rejected the excess of the 1980s, which had said no to the earthy 70s. When the 2000s arrived, the revival of 80s glam returned in a creative way that fit with the changing times.
Even today, design trends make heavy use of throwbacks to past decades.
Think about the rustic, folksy feel of the 2010s. Or, to take it in another direction, look at how industrial styles have inspired interior spaces this decade. And consider how “normcore” and “vaporwave” designs make you feel.
Nostalgia feels good. It feels like a warm hug from an earlier version of yourself. Just like hugs, there’s no such thing as too much nostalgia. So if you think bringing a smile to your peeps’ faces is the best way to connect them with your product, bring on the velour tracksuits and the emo bangs.
BRB. Gotta relive the 2000s!
Think back to the aughts. Emo hair, pop punk, MySpace. The X Games, XBOX, the RAZR phone.
And a whole lot of bling-bling.
From Cam’ron’s all-pink ensemble to pastel popped collars, the aughts were all about fun, bubbly optimism as we collectively celebrated life in the 21st century.
It was finally here! We were living in the future.
The turn of the millennium was a time to turn away from the grunge and grit of the 90s. It was also the era where the internet celebrity was born. With social media, reality TV and YouTube, anybody could make themselves a star.
Remember: this is what the 2000s looked like…
Serve up some awesome sauce with 2000s design nostalgia
So, how can you work some design nostalgia into your work? Start by capturing the free, fun feeling of the decade. Steer away from the round, black and white images that define 2010s design. Go a little bit more youthful. And when it doubt, go pink.
Retro: it’s all good.
Think about your life in the 2000s. Who were you? What did you like? What did you hope to become? Use that as a springboard to bring a little bit of nostalgia into your current designs.