The ”Modern” Retro Graphic Design Style

Graphic design, and in fact, all the creative arts, are forever evolving. That’s because creatives take their inspiration from the world around them, which is also always changing. That means that design trends come and go, but it seems like reinterpreting the past will never go out of fashion. Most design experts agree, retro inspiration is here to stay!

“Modern” Retro is the latest design theme to put a contemporary twist on iconic oldies. Don’t confuse this movement with the vintage designs that have been popular in the past. This is a fresh perspective and a strong nod to the 70s, 80s and 90s.

All about uncomplicated style, it’s a nostalgic trend that works really well with what the design world is focused on at the moment. Namely, creating an excellent user driven experience. We’ve already seen big brands like Google and Starbucks change their logos to more simple and flat designs and that’s exactly the type of angle you want to take when working with this theme.

Even the interior design industry is moving towards the bold colors of the 80s, which highlights just how relevant this trend is. Don’t be afraid to have some fun with color and use it in adventurous and exciting new ways. Mix and match, play with neon and don’t hold back. This is not a muted, color palette design style.

Bring shapes and patterns to life in your logos, icons and backgrounds. You can do this by repeating patterns, finding a way to create movement or just developing an iconic, visual language that is instantaneously memorable to your audience.

If you want to create a “Modern” Retro design, all you need to do is look to the first PC and video games, pixel art and of course, space themes for inspiration. Technology is a big part of this new trend, so you can always rely on iconic gadgets from the past to spice up your design.

What would a new design theme be without a refreshing take on fonts? You’ll find that as this trend takes off, there will be more and more creative adaptations of iconic 70s, 80s and 90s typefaces for you to use. But that doesn’t mean you need to steer clear of the more current options to keep your work looking contemporary though.

Here are some design inspirations that explore this vibrant new trend:


1.Ralph Cifra’s Retro Technology design is literal nostalgia, but it also plays with flat shapes and bold color choices.

2. These journals from Write Sketch & have a strong 80s influence, fun use of pattern and a striking color palette.

3. Ferm Living’s typographic posters are modern and have a clean design aesthetic, but there’s definitely a sentimental element that is refreshing.

4. Even NASA has made use of the “Modern” Retro style to advertise space travel.

There is always a touch of romance in getting inspiration from the past. The key to recreating a “Modern” Retro design is blending the old in a new and exciting way. General graphic design rules will always apply, but this is a chance to freshen up some iconic 70s, 80s and 90s visuals with your own, unique perspective.

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