Retro Design Styles

by . May 3rd, 2014

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.

In art, retro is referred to as a genre of pop art developed in the 1940s and 1950s. The style was created to cater the needs for bold and eye-catching graphic design that can 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 an 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 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, the most common themes of this particular art are simplicity and bare text that is very legible.


– 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 which 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 their very own characteristics that made them well-known and that marked them a place in the history of art. If you’r about to create something, try looking back to 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 style you have in mind that we missed, then share them through the comments box below. Don’t forget to follow us on TwitterFacebookGoogle+Tumblr, and Pinterest. Keep on inspiring everyone!