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Let’s Get Nostalgic: 90’s Design Trends


Ah, yes, we recall it well. The 90’s in all its glory was truly a unique period in my childhood. It was a magnificent time of Zubaz pants, Rugrats, the Olsen twins, and the symphonic sound of AOL booting up. Today, we take a special journey back in time and look back at some of the amazing design trends that encapsulate the 90’s.

“DUDE, Those Colors and Patterns are TIGHT!”

surf wear
Source: Tumblr (

Is it just me, or did pretty much every design in the 90’s include bright neon colors, shapes, squiggles, and jagged edges? Let’s face it, we saw it EVERYWHERE: Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Rugrats, TV Commercials, clothing, Mall Advertisements, Food Courts, food packaging, websites, print ads, and MORE! It just wasn’t trending if the colors didn’t burn your retinas and looked like it was covered in confetti.

Lisa Frank and the Ocean of Rainbow Butterflies and Unicorns

lisa frank
Source: NYU ( )

WOW! This one brings back so many memories. If it wasn’t covered in sparkles and rainbows, it wasn’t Lisa Frank. When it came to school supplies, this was the cream of the crop. If you owned a Lisa Frank binder, lunch box, folder, stickers, or you name it, you were definitely a cool kid on the block. I am not ashamed to say that I had a folder with the exact same unicorn illustration pictured above. This is yet another instance where color ran rampant in design, and truth be told? WE LOVED IT!

The Beginning of Web Design



apple 0898

Source: Crazyegg (

Boy, don’t those site screenshots take you back? It’s absolutely mind boggling how far we’ve come with web design. Back in the 90s web standards weren’t really a ‘thing’ and HTML/CSS was VERY basic. Websites were more like reading a book and getting general information than looking at a well-crafted design. Nowadays our eyes glisten and sparkle when we look at Apple’s contemporary and sleek web page design. So, many websites follow in their trend setting footsteps. Not too long ago, Apple’s website looked COMPLETELY different than what we are used to today. The same can be said for most large companies that had their own sites back then. Nonetheless, we still love looking at these sites because it brings back memories of our very first desktop computer. Back then, it was still a new relishing thought to be able to log onto the internet and get answers to our questions or visit sites we’d never been to before. I distinctly remember the pre-Google age. The only way to know the address to a website was to see it advertised on TV, see it on printed material, or to sit at your desktop and type in what you thought it might be(Boy was that fun!).

The Dawn of Comic Sans

comic sans

As personal computers started making their way into the everyday home, so did the infamous Comic Sans font. If you had a Windows 95 computer, then you had Comic Sans (Which means EVERYONE DID!). At this point everyone started making their own flyers, greeting cards, and more in Microsoft Works. So, we began to see it everywhere! To this day it still makes its way into design work.

Hit Counters and Guest Books

Does anyone remember geocities and how easy it was to set up your own page? I sure do! I remember scores and scores of websites set up in geocities. What did they all have in common? Guest books and hit counters. Hit counters became a huge trend. In a way, it became a sites public street cred. Guest books on the other hand were very gimmicky. I remember them looking cheesy and being very user unfriendly. You’d see this big ugly gif book and click 3-4 levels in just to leave a comment and even more to read other comments. Yet, without guest books we might not have our beloved comment sections today.

Both images from:

Commercials and the EXTREME!

Among the trends in this list, we somewhat see a common theme. Design was very loud, bright, and colorful. We look at the youth from the 90s and we see trends of bright/loud patterns, laid back slang like “Cool” and “Chill”. We saw all this and more in ads, music videos, and of course, commercials. I remember watching some of these commercials and remembering the actors being WAY too excited or surprised about the product. The overacting was overwhelming and we saw it in so many commercials.

I hope you had fun looking back at the 90s. I know I’ll never forget all those unique quirks in marketing and design. Do you agree with my list? What 90s design trends do you remember? Share your thoughts! We want to know!

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