Graphic Design Trends 2023: Exploring chaotic maximalism through candy packaging
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In the fast-paced world of design, trends come and go swiftly. As wider cultural and generational movements shape our society, the realm of design has witnessed exponential growth, breaking boundaries and defying conventional limits. It is within this dynamic landscape that a new trend has emerged: chaotic maximalism.
Take Millennials for example, they loved and appreciated a touch of minimalistic design in everything they owned: fashion, lifestyle and design alike. However, Gen Z has made an impact by refusing to follow any set rules, bringing in more styles and a breadth of new ideas. This introduced the likelihood of a trend like chaotic maximalism, which is prominent now more than ever!
In this blog post, we dive into the world of chaotic maximalism, exploring its origins and key characteristics, while also showcasing our talented design team's perspective on the trend.
A brief history of chaotic maximalism
Chaotic maximalism finds its roots in the postmodern movement, which emerged in the late 20th century as a reaction against the rigid principles of modernism. Postmodernism sought to challenge the notion of strict design rules and instead celebrated diversity and individual expression.
Creatives began to incorporate elements from various styles, eras and cultures - resulting in design that defied conventional regulations.
Defining chaotic maximalism
In short, chaotic maximalism embraces an explosion of colour, pattern, and visual elements. It creates a vibrant and dynamic visual experience inspired by previous graphic movements.
At its core, chaotic maximalism is characterised by an overwhelming abundance of visual elements, including colour, pattern, typography, and imagery. It rejects minimalism's "less is more" mantra and opts for an all-encompassing, excessive approach.
As previously mentioned, chaotic maximalism defies conventional rules, yet it often encompasses several key features that characterise the trend. Let’s explore them…
An eclectic mix of styles
Incorporating diverse design influences from various eras, both historical and contemporary, chaotic maximalism effortlessly amalgamates them. This style harmoniously blends elements derived from Art Deco, Memphis design, psychedelic art, and pop culture, resulting in a collision of creative styles.
Vibrant colour schemes
Chaotic maximalist designs are characterised by the dominance of bold and vibrant colours. These designs feature clashing hues and surprising combinations, which generate a feeling of liveliness and visual contrast, capturing the audience's attention.
Patterns play a significant role in chaotic maximalism, often layered and juxtaposed to create visually dense and intricate art pieces. Geometric shapes, floral motifs, and organic forms intertwine to form visually captivating designs.
Collages and layering
Chaotic maximalism embraces the art of collage and assemblage, combining diverse visual elements into one. Frequently embracing found imagery, illustrations, and digital manipulations, this approach yields a visually captivating narrative filled with an abundance of visual elements.
Attention to detail
Despite its chaotic nature, meticulous attention to detail is a crucial aspect of chaotic maximalism. Every element, no matter how small, is purposefully placed to create a harmonious visual balance within a design.
JUMP’s take on a chaotic maximalism
In order to ignite inspiration within our design team and foster their exploration of the chaotic maximalism trend, we issued a creative brief that tasked them with designing a brand that embodies this aesthetic.
Gathering inspiration from the vibrant celebration of National Candy Month, the brief revolved around the concept of creating a brand centred on either an existing or fictional candy. Their objective was clear: to embrace chaotic maximalism and ensure its vivid portrayal within their designs. The culmination of their creative efforts resulted in the following final concepts.
Konpeitō by Hannah
Hannah is a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away being one of her favourite childhood films. Hayao Miyazaki’s films tend to include beautiful scenes that exist without dialogue and plot, usually in nature, which act as a breathing space in the film and Hannah wanted to see how she could contrast this concept by using chaotic maximalism.
A chaotic colour palette to compliment a chaotic graphic design brief
So, what was the reasoning behind Hannah’s colour palette? The colours selected were used to depict different flavours, with acid green symbolising lemon and lime, and fuchsia pink representing berries. These vibrant hues are combined with a stark black for contrast and an off-white shade to soften to the overall scheme.
Konpeitō packaging design
Using a classic anime movie to create a unique name
Hannah’s concept was inspired by the whimsical soot sprite characters in Spirited Away, which are fed konpeitō (kon-payee-toh), a type of colourful sugar candy introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the early 1500s. The word konpeitō comes from the Portuguese word confeito (confetti) which means candy or confection. These candies in the shape of stars are given to the sprites after a hard day of working at the bathhouse.
The motivation behind Hannah’s logo came from the star shape of konpeitō. She wanted to include this in the logo somehow and the shape of the ‘k’ lends itself well to that.
Konpeitō marketing poster mock-up
Take a break. Now get back to work!
The phrase ‘take a break’ was adopted as a tagline for Hannah’s poster design. This was drawn as inspiration from the practice of the soot sprites being offered konpeitō during their break by their boss Kamaji.
Hannah wanted to further explore the star shape as this was not only inspired by konpeitō but the soot sprites, so she carried this into various patterns which include this shape in the negative space. A perfect way to showcase chaotic maximalism!
KETS by Alana
Next up is Alana’s design, which is influenced by her fond childhood memories. When generating her concept, the aim was to create a sense of nostalgia. In order to encapsulate that sentiment, she made the deliberate choice to integrate elements that served as reminders of her adolescence. The term ‘kets' is derived from an old northeast slang term for sweets that her grandparents and many other locals used (and still use) today. Choosing this name evoked a sense of familiarity and added to the chaotic maximalism theme.
KETS chocolate bar packaging
From classic childhood cartoons to a chaotic concept
Drawing inspiration from beloved classic TV shows and cartoons such as Scooby-Doo, Kim Possible, Powerpuff Girls and Fairly Odd Parents, Alana curated a vibrant Y2K-style colour palette which fit in well with the chaotic maximalism brief. These shows shared similar colour themes that resonated with her, and she saw them as a perfect source for capturing the essence of nostalgia and playfulness. By incorporating these lively colours into her concept, she aims to evoke the same joyful emotions that these shows induced in her as a carefree kid.
When designing the logo, Alana conducted research on old-school brand styles to capture the essence of the past. The font chosen was reminiscent of the vibrant and playful styles from the early 2000s, which resonated with her childhood memories.
KETS poster mock-up
Capturing the essence of chaotic maximalism through graphic design
The name of the chocolate bar, ‘mix-up crunch’, was derived from the term ‘mix-up’, which was the colloquial expression used in Alana’s childhood neighbourhood to refer to pick ‘n’ mix style sweets. The addition of ‘crunch’ is a reflection of the texture experienced when biting into the chocolate bar filled with an assortment of mix-up style sweets.
For the packaging, Alana wanted to recreate the look and feel of an old-school sweet bag that is still occasionally seen today. To further enhance the ‘chaotic maximalism’ theme, blob shapes were incorporated into the design, reminiscent of the popular fried egg soft sweets often found in mix-ups - adding a random and fun element into the design.
Additionally, Alana experimented with different fonts and layering styles to align with the chaotic brief. The combination of playful shapes, varied fonts, and layered elements created a visually dynamic and vibrant packaging design that aligned with the chaotic maximalism trend.
Candyland by Gemma
A visualisation of candy bins
Here at the JUMP office, it’s no secret that Gemma is a candy-mad, colour addict - so a brief featuring candy and chaotic maximalism was a breeze for her.
During the research and conceptualisation phase, she reflected on her youth. In particular, she reminisced of the occasions when her grandmother would take her to the Food Weigh House in Chester-le-Street, affectionately referred to by her grandma as 'the bins shop'.
While her grandmother purchased nuts, flour, and other necessary ingredients from the large green bins, Gemma would make a beeline straight to the sweets section - or as she calls it - ‘heaven’.
A Candyland ticket
Using chaotic maximalism to envision an idea of heaven
Drawing inspiration from those memories, Gemma developed a concept known as Candyland, envisioning it as the ultimate fantasy pick ‘n’ mix emporium. In this imaginative world, the traditional small tongs for selecting sweets are replaced with trowels and shovels. Huge barrels would contain an endless assortment of sweets, encompassing every imaginable type. Chaotic maximalism at its finest!
Due to the anticipated popularity of (a hypothetical) Candyland, customers would be advised to reserve their preferred time slot in advance. Upon arrival, they’d be warmly welcomed with a toothless smile and presented with a Candyland branded pick ‘n’ mix bag complete with a ticket - allowing them access to an unlimited amount of assorted candy.
In wrapping up Gemma's vision, she has materialised the vibrant dreams that dance in her thoughts every evening as she drifts off to sleep.
A Candyland bag and social media post visualisation
The personality behind Candyland
Similar to Alana, Gemma also found inspiration in traditional striped sweet bags, adding her own unique twist by incorporating the chaotic maximalism theme into her designs. With their colourful and vibrant patterns, these bags strive to reflect the exuberant joy found within the world of Candyland, capturing the excitement that awaits inside.
Gemma imagines the tone of voice for Candyland to be exuberantly fun and light-hearted, coaxing your inner child to emerge. Her mock-up Instagram post perfectly captures the sheer delight of indulging in a diverse array of treats from the pick 'n' mix. From foamy and fizzy flavours to chocolatey and creamy delights, the post invites you to handpick all your favourites.
ASTROS by Laura
Gaining creative insights from the realm of outer space
Immersing herself in research on Pinterest, Laura drew significant inspiration from the chaotic maximalism trend, particularly admiring the harmonious fusion of colours and typography it presented. While she thoroughly enjoys incorporating colours into client projects, the opportunity to playfully experiment with typography is a rarity she eagerly embraced.
Inspired by the candy's name - Astros, and its original packaging, Laura’s creative vision extended further as she aimed to incorporate playful elements of space into the design. Additionally, she sought to introduce subtle icons and marks that would enhance the overall design with depth. To achieve this, she cleverly drew inspiration from printing marks rather than relying solely on space-related imagery.
ASTROS poster mock-up
Striking packaging motivated by the galaxies and chaotic maximalism
Laura began creating the logo by sketching and drawing each letter individually and tweaking them so they fit together cohesively. The concept behind the brand was to embody the notion that each planet and asteroid is one-of-a-kind. Laura's vision for the brand resembled that of a collective solar system, where independent pieces seamlessly unite to create a cohesive whole (whilst keeping in mind the chaotic maximalism brief - of course)!
Moving onto the design of the box itself, Laura proceeded to create a series of circles representing planets with various line designs and patterns, which could be layered and juxtaposed.
ASTROS packaging mock-up
To enhance the packaging's visual impact, she incorporated a layered element using a sleeve. The sleeve features strategically placed cut-out holes, revealing a vibrant and chaotic maximalism-style pattern comprised of different planets.
If the brand were to materialise in the real world, Laura imagines certain elements of the sleeve possessing a UV gloss, adding a shiny effect and making the logo prominently stand out amidst the mass of colours.
Our designers' thoughts on the chaotic maximalism graphic design trend
As evident from their individual perspectives, each designer embraced a distinctive approach to the chaotic maximalism trend and the given brief. Upon completion of the project, we sought to capture our designers' reflections on the trend and their overall experience with the brief. In their own words, here’s what each of them had to say…
“As a devout minimalist, calm and order have crept into most aspects of my life; how I choose to dress, how I style my home and ultimately, my graphic design style. That being said, every trend inspires a countertrend. Chaotic maximalism allows play with colour, pattern, shape, texture and layering which can have unique outcomes that are brave and full of personality. This brief pushed me out of the box but I do believe there is a fine line between creativity and chaos, however!” - Hannah
“As a self-professed chaotic maximalism lover, this trend aligns perfectly with my creative style. While interpretations of this trend may vary among individuals, I find the concept as a whole to be right up my alley. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to exercise total creative freedom with this project!” - Alana
“The chaotic maximalism brief is right up my street. I am a self confessed sugar and candy addict. My husband knows it, my family knows it, everyone in the office knows it, and now you know it. I have always had a massive sweet tooth so this brief was the perfect excuse to go out, buy some pick n mix (necessary for research purposes) and have some fun with my favourite thing. I wanted my concept to be fizzing with excitement to try and do candy justice.” - Gemma
“I enjoy the chaotic maximalism trend, there’s loads of inspiring stuff that sparks new ideas and ways of working with colour and typography. It’s fun to see brands experimenting with the trend and breaking the rules of more traditional branding and advertising which is often much cleaner. I’d like to use it more in future projects (paired back a touch) but it’s ideal for personal projects or loosening up and moving away from stricter design systems.” - Laura
Final thoughts on chaotic maximalism
In general, allowing our designers to step away from their routine responsibilities provided them with the opportunity to unleash their creativity and experience a genuine sense of liberation. Offering your team the chance to explore and push the limits of their abilities is an excellent method for enhancing morale and igniting fresh, innovative ideas for client projects.
If you're seeking to elevate your brand with a distinctive aesthetic, we invite you to explore our work. Don't hesitate to get in touch with our team to discuss how we can bring this trend to life for your unique vision.