A Surprising Design Trend

By April 25, 2024
Spring 2023 Public Lecture Series poster titled Open for Discussion, shown unfolded.

The most surprising design trend we saw in the past year? How many interesting print projects came our way. In talking with our clients and doing research we discovered some unexpected reasons behind this resurgence of print (not that it ever really went away).

Some of our clients found that it’s their younger audiences who most appreciate receiving printed communications. This is backed up by research from the US Postal Service: “Generation Z also feels special when receiving mail and recognizes mail as a way to convey emotional connection” (United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, October 27, 2022). Reports have also shown that Gen Z prefers print books over e-books (Business Insider, March 13, 2023).

Gold foiled holiday card set
Gold foil self-promotional branded card set
Set of graphic patterned holiday cards
Black box with IT ONLY TAKES ONE printed on the top in gold foil and a set of dominoes are shone packaged inside.
Custom dominoes set gift box designed for the Harvard Graduate School of Design

But that doesn’t mean print—or certainly not ALL print—has a definite advantage over digital. It’s most effective when used strategically alongside digital communications or for bespoke eye-catching promotions where quality wins over quantity. A recent article from the BBC highlights the resurgence of limited-run high-end magazines aiming to buck a downward trend by becoming limited edition collectibles: “According to media research firm Enders Analysis, there were 330 magazine launches last year, with many of them being niche publications” (BBC, September 22, 2023). Smaller print runs and use of sustainable materials help printed pieces make and impact responsibly.

Letterhead stationery
Silver metallic Pantone printed card
Fundraising materials designed for Rhode Island School of Design
Spread from RISD Momentum magazine
Holographic foil stamped card and wire-bound calendar
Holiday card and calendar designed for the Harvard Graduate School of Design