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Pattern 7: Add simple & geometric shapes

Don’t let design blogs fool you. Using simple shapes in design is not a “design trend”. Designers have been using geometric shapes as decorative and structural elements in our designs for practically a century.


The Letterform Archive has countless examples of this design pattern spanning decades, but here are a few examples:

You can also trace this pattern through various eras and styles of design, such as Swiss Style and Bauhaus. But the pattern persists today, as you’ll see below, for good reason.

The constraint of using simple shapes in design forces the designer to examine the layout and figure-ground relationships more closely. When all you have to work with is simple shapes and text, there are no tricks to hide behind (like depth effects and pretty photos). Your alignment, spacing, proximity, and other fundamental principles need to be flawless. This constraint allows designers to show the power of subtlety and detail in our work, which is why we’ll never stop being inspired by the simplicity of shapes.

Obviously, this visual design pattern is a great choice if your product is for designers, who will recognize the connection with classic design. However, it can be a great choice for many types of brands where simplicity and elegance are core values.

Modern examples of simple & geometric shapes in design

Via Upperquad

Upperquad, a design agency, takes this design pattern to the extreme on their website with sophisticated animations and compositions of simple shapes.

Screenshot of the Contrast app design's use of simple shapes

Via Contrast App

The Contrast App site by @mds uses simple shapes as layout and decorative elements, and they morph into other shapes on hover.

Screenshot of the Fixtail design's use of simple shapes

Via Fixtail

The Fixtail landing page design by @pjrvs uses simple shapes as background elements.

Screenshot of The Tiny Designer design's use of simple shapes

2nd Screenshot of The Tiny Designer design's use of simple shapes

Via The Tiny Designer (Designed by the author, Jarrod Drysdale)

The Tiny Designer uses shapes as background elements and inside illustrations.


Looking for something specific? Email us here to suggest a design pattern.
Written by Jarrod Drysdale.


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