Retro Design Styles

by . April 3rd, 2024

Retro means a style that is derived from the recent past. In fact, retro is the shortened word for “retrospective,” meaning “looking back.” It intends to create a nostalgic feeling towards the past, and in fashion, we use the word retro to refer to the revival of old yet relatively recent styles.

Retro is referred to as a pop art genre that developed in the 1940s and 1950s. The style was created to cater to the need for bold and eye-catching graphic design that could be easily mass-produced, given the capability of the presses at that time.

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We came across an article by Canva that featured retro design styles that you, as a designer, may use as inspiration in creating your work.  These design styles are Art Nouveau, Dada, Bauhaus, and Art Deco.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is an ornamental art style movement between 1890 and 1910.


  • Use of long, sinuous (curvy), organic lines.
  • Often used in architecture, interior design, jewelry, glass design, posters, and illustrations.

– Undulating, asymmetrical lines in the form of flower stalks and buds, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate and sinuous natural objects.



Dadaism is both a literary and artistic movement. A French word for “hobbyhorse”, this style originated in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1916. The word dada was randomly chosen by a group of artists and performers disillusioned by World War I and the current state of the art at that time.


  • Collage, photomontage, and found-object construction.

– Fragments of pasted photographs combined with printed messages in one piece.

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“Function over form” is the main idea of this German-based movement. Because of this, this particular art’s most common themes are simplicity and very legible bare text.


  • Straight lines and smooth curves
  • Geometric shapes
  • Often in primary colors
  • Bold, thick lines
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Art Deco

Art Deco is a design style that first appeared in France after World War I. It combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. This style commonly features rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornaments.


  • Emphasizes geometric forms
  • Symmetrical patterns
  • Vivid and high-contrast colors


These four art movements were revolutions. Each one has its characteristics that make them well-known, marking them a place in the history of art. If you are about to create something, try looking back at these styles and draw inspiration from how they became successful.

CHECK THIS ONE OUT: 34 Retro Posters that’ll Work in Any Era

If you have any design styles you have in mind that we missed, then share them through the comments box below. Keep on inspiring everyone!