The Top 12 Instagram Design Trends of 2021

Published by
Anna Wood
9 min read

Design trends come and go, and every year we see new photo styles on Instagram. In 2021, photographers, influencers, and brands are changing the game by focusing on a few key design elements. 

If you’re looking to improve your Instagram posts and get noticed, we are here to help. To get you started, we have compiled a list of the 12 design trends to consider in 2021. While a few of our favorites include retro, animations, and spot color, we challenge you to try all of the suggestions on this list.

Don’t forget — the Tailwind app can do the hard work for you. In a flash, you can personalize your images, discover relevant hashtags, and schedule at the right time of day.

Read on to discover how you can transform your Instagram profile like a designer:

#1. Gone Retro

What’s old is new again. In 2021 there is a feeling of nostalgia as posts have been going retro.

Some of the most iconic decades are making a comeback, including the ’20s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and even the ’80s! 

With vintage color palettes, big skirts, milkshakes, tapedecks, and some of the coolest cars you’ve ever seen, you are only limited by your imagination.

Want a quick way to put a retro spin on a modern photo?

Try the X-Pro II, Valencia, or Rise filters. These are available for free via your Instagram account!

#2. Mood Boards

Mood boards aren’t a new design trend, but they are more popular than ever in 2021.

Mood boards, also known as inspiration boards, combine different elements that complement each other! 

You can group items that are in similar colors or themes as this gives you a unique perspective.

Mood board posts can be purely for looks. For example, you can stack a pile of books that use the same colors on their spines.

Or you can match fabrics, paint swatches, and materials to give inspiration for interior design projects.

You can even make a longer, swipeable mood board by using multiple frames on an Instagram carousel post!

#3. Natural Wonders

For many, 2020 was a year spent in isolation.

This break has given us a chance to appreciate nature, and the beauty of the outdoors is regularly showcased on social media. 

Nature is where photographers shine, and influencers are embracing the environment as backdrops for their posts.

Be inspired by the organic shades of brown and green that are popping up on your feed.

Whether it’s a shot of an exotic location or a room filled with lush, leafy indoor plants, nature is one design trend we can’t get enough of in 2021.

#4. Clever Animations

Moving pictures stand out on Instagram, and we are all used to seeing Boomerang-style mini videos on our feeds.

In 2021, it’s all about animations. Use the Tailwind app to schedule cute, bubbly, cartoon videos to give your brand that “wow factor.” 

Keep your animations short and sweet, as you don’t want to overwhelm your followers.

Animations should tell a story with colors, graphics, and text that gets your message across.

For example, you might be ready to celebrate summer. You could choose a yellow and orange theme with an animated sun.

#5. Pastel Hues

Fashion and design can collide, and Instagram design trends often come from the catwalk.

Sweet candy pastels have become a 2021 staple in every fashionista’s closet, so it was only a matter of time before these light hues took over our Instagram feeds. 

Pastels aren’t just for clothing and unicorns. We’ve seen soft pinks, blues, greens, yellows, and purples featured everywhere. 

With food, furniture, decor, artwork, hair, and cosmetics in the mix, all we need now is a dedicated pastel filter.

#6. Text Only

Why use images when words can say it all? Most of us have short attention spans, and we can miss those carefully composed captions as we scroll, scroll, scroll.

If you have something to say, why not make it the focus by adding it to your image. 

There are a few simple rules you should consider if you want to engage your followers with typography. For example, your post should be easy to read, and because it’s Instagram, it should also be visually appealing. 

Whether it’s a funny meme, an inspirational quote, or a handy tip — make every word count.

#7. Geometric Shapes

Mathematics can be fun when you combine it with art. Geometric shapes use lines, patterns, and angles to create unique images.

This is an Insta design trend that is in vogue right now. 

Artists are sharing their work on Instagram with industrial geometric creations.

Others are promoting their interior design skills with closeups of geometric wall hangings, rugs, pot plants, bedding, clocks, teacups, and cushions. 

Geometric shapes can challenge the mind. If you look at some designs long enough, they can feel as though they are jumping off the page.

#8. Muted Tones

Soft, subtle, and color-less is the best way to describe this next trend.

Muted tones photography is about giving you just enough contrast to see the different elements without bombarding you with color. 

Shades are dulled down and often have a grey appearance. 

This style works well for homewares as off-whites, beiges, and other natural hues are often used for decorative pieces.

Instagram has a range of filters and brightness and contrast levels that can help you get the look.

#9. Spot Color

A creative Instagram design trend that can take a black and white photo to the next level is spot color.

A splash of yellow, red, pink, green, or blue can become a focal point in a greyscale image. 

There are a few ways to do this. You can start with a colored photo and use layers in your favorite graphic design program to change the background to black and white.

Or start with a black and white photo, and touch it up to include a bright spot of color. 

This trend is fun as it gives your posts an intriguing twist. If you really want to embrace this style, consider filling your entire profile page with this design theme. 

#10. No Filter

There are more than 280 million Instagram posts with the #nofilter.

In 2021, social media users are desperate for authentic, genuine content, and everything “real” is getting noticed. 

This is a body-positive movement, and brands and influencers are listening.

The no filter tag is commonly used by hair and makeup artists to give you an accurate picture of how their services might look.

Celebrities are also jumping on the #nofilter bandwagon, so fans can have a glimpse at how they live behind the scenes. 

#11. Voxel Art

Voxel art looks like virtual construction blocks have been pieced together to create an image.

This cartoon style has an 80’s pixel feel to it and has been made popular due to the video game, Minecraft. It’s cute, it’s simple, and Lego fans will get a kick out of it.

Technology has evolved, and now we can create our own graphics from the comfort of our living rooms.

This has led to people young and old testing out new design styles. The good news is, voxel art is relatively easy to master.

Voxel art is appearing on everything. For example, it’s on clothing, bedding, and coffee cups.

Instagram is a place where graphic artists can share their work, and in 2021 keep an eye out because it’s all about voxel!

#12. Golden Glam

Every year there is an emphasis on a different color, and in 2021 one of the hottest hues is yellow gold.

This glamorous metallic screams luxury, and you may notice it featured in photos, animations, and art.

Gold is for interiors, jewelry, clothing, and cosmetics, but regardless of how you use it, the rule should always be “less is more”.

Yellow gold can be paired with other colors depending on the mood you want to create. For example, a classic, understated look can be achieved with blacks or soft whites.

If you prefer something that goes “pop,” try accentuating gold with baby pink, light blue, or earthy green. Or, swap it for other much-loved metallics such as rose gold or silver.

The Most Popular Instagram Design Trends of 2021

Are you looking to build your Instagram followers? One way to do this is by keeping on top of current design trends. In 2021, there are 12 key Instagram trends to consider.

We told you about going retro, mood boards, natural wonders, clever animations, soft pastels, typography, geometric shapes, muted tones, spot color, voxel art, and metallic gold. How many of these design trends have you already spotted in your newsfeed this year?

Sign up to the Tailwind app and uploading, scheduling, adding hashtags, and designing will be easier than ever before. You don’t need a degree in marketing or a full time social media expert, because this is a tool that everyone can master.

With so many innovative trends to choose from, the only question left to answer is, which one is your favorite? 

Psst! This Pin was made in seconds with Tailwind Create. Try it for yourself

Anna Wood is an experienced lifestyle blogger and freelance writer. She lives in regional Australia with her hubby, 3 children, and one very fluffy fur baby.

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Anna Wood

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