Your visual guide to design styles

One of the easiest ways to have a better client-designer working relationship is to align the project's design style.
We've prepared a visual design style guide as handy reference for both designers and customers.
Minimalist, grunge or abstract? There are so many design styles out there, where do you even start?
For designers, defining a style is crucial in establishing their mark in the design world. And for customers, locking down the style is imperative to developing their company brand.
Here are the 16 design styles we've identified and their stunning examples.


The three-dimensional artwork gives the opposite illusion of a flat design. It is characterized by the illusion of volume and mass, therefore looking like it occupies space. 3D design is commonly used to create skeuomorphic designs, the idea of creating something to resemble a real-life object.
  • Illusion of depth / volume
  • Employs lighting effect
  • Employs shades of one color
Perspective, skeuomorphism, shadow, video games, app design


Abstract is the style of creating a piece of art that is independent from the way it looks in the real world. An abstract design style is achieved by a combined composition of colors and shapes usually based on the individual interpretation of the designer, the client or both.
  • Ambiguous representation of an object / concept
  • Invites individual interpretation
Colorful, artistic, logo design, illustration

Clean and minimalist

Minimalism is a style or technique that is characterized by spareness and simplicity. It is the opposite to lavish and highly-decorative styles and leaving its most basic form to communicate the message.
  • Uses small number of colors
  • May be achieved by using fluid or straight lines (line art)
  • The opposite of abstract
Simple, line art, negative space, flat design


The opposite of masculine design, feminine style is usually characterized by details that stereotypically attract female attention such as soft color palettes, florals and cursive writing.
  • May employ cursive, fluid fonts
  • May incorporate pastel colors and/or shades of red (eg. pink, purple, orange)
  • May feature a woman's face, flowers and fashion components (eg. lipstick, shoes)
Flower, cosmetic, pastel, fashion, love, beauty


This style could be considered as a subcategory of the minimalist look: it employs minimal use of colors and shading for a visually-pleasing aesthetic.
  • Uses small number of colors
  • No realistic shadow effect
Clean, infographic, minimalist, line art, illustration, app design

Fun and playful

A design style that inspires fun and usually gives off an informal, rather than rigid, impression. Commonly used to create cartoons, it can be non-realistic or semi-realistic artistic style of drawing.
  • May feature caricaturized person / animal
  • Colorful
  • May contain elements of fantasy
Humor, mascot design, character design, kids, caricature, cartoon, animal


Derived from the idea of geometry, this style is characterized by heavy use of straight lines and shapes. The typical geometric design can comprise of rectangles, squares and triangles.
  • Incorporates straight lines
  • Features symmetry
Minimal, tech, simple, internet, flat


Sometimes considered as a subcategory of the vintage style, grunge evokes the darker, gritty and cool style of the 1990s. It is typically characterized by distressed/rough or torn appearance to its designs. Grunge is also commonly associated with punk and gothic styles.
  • Generally uses dark colors and monochromatic color scheme
  • Generally invokes the feeling of darkness and danger
Cool, street, gothic, black, grafitti, T-shirt design


Illustrated style is derived from the interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process.
The illustrated style is usually designed for integration in published media, such as posters, magazines and books, among others.
  • Generally has 'raw', hand-drawn look 
  • Look dependant on designers' drawing style
T-shirt design, sketch, drawing, tattoo, art


The luxurious design style evokes the idea of indulging in extra comforts or pleasures additional to the necessary standard of well-being. The use of rich colors such as gold helps achieve this idea of luxury.
  • Often uses the colors black, gold and bronze
  • Achieves the idea the brand is impactful on its own by employing simple, minimalist designs
  • Uses either old-style fonts or simple and modern fonts 
Elegant, sophisticated, fashion, understated


Masculine design style is stereotypically appealing to men. Details in masculine design may include simple lines, monochromatic theme (black and white) and "rugged" texture.
  • May employ hard-edged, thick-stroke fonts
  • May incorporate rugged and gritty images
  • May feature blue or darker colors

Organic and natural

Organic design is a style which takes as its starting point the flowing natural forms of a reality. The style is usually characterized by continuous lines and dynamic curves, and is in direct contrast to the geometric, functional style.
  • Generally incorporates natural elements like leaves, flowers and fresh produce
  • May be combined with illustrated look for the raw, organic look
Nature, rustic, handmade, illustration 

Professional / corporate

The professional design style is usually characterized by muted colors, and minimal details to represent conservative ideas. This style is typically employed by organizations who want to make formal impressions on their target audience.
  • Employs straight, classic font types
  • Generally incorporates simple shapes or objects
  • May invoke formal impressions with use of negative space and line art
Business, formal, minimal, classic, simple


The typographic style utilizes the modification of fonts. To a certain extent, it is the design of the written words to evoke response in its target audience.
  • Font style is generally the focus of the design
  • Typographic design may incorporate objects, but the text usually conveys the main message
Font, illustration, artistic

Vintage / retro

Vintage or retro (short for "retrospective") is a style that is derivative of trends from the recent past. Some popular vintage styles include Victoriana (inspired by decorative styles of the Victorian era), steam punk (an ode to the industrial revolution of the late 19th century) and Bauhaus (the minimalist style movement between the 1920s and the 1930s). 
  • May incorporate rustic, nostalgic elements to invoke the past
  • May use illustrated ornate ribbons and wreaths reminiscent of the 19th century
  • May incorporate visual clues such as old letterpress, hand-drawn typefaces and elaborate decorative arts
Rustic, T-shirt design, drawing, illustration, logo design