How can you use Rococo elements to create elegant throwback looks that aren’t gaudy? Take a look at these examples of the trend in the wild.
We predicted that references from the Rococo period would be making waves in design in 2019, a trend we’re coining as Rococo Romance.
Searches on Shutterstock show a 160% increase in searches for romantic vintage designs and a 1277% increase for damask images. Designers are finding fresh relevance in this 18th century design movement which taps into the current maximalist mood in design.
But how can designers use Rococo elements without straying into stuffy or saccharine territory? Here, we look at ways you can mesh Rococo with contemporary elements to create a compelling, quirky style. This fresh take on a classic look works beautifully for advertising, social media, or poster imagery.
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What is Rococo?
A reaction to the excessive Baroque style of Versailles under the Sun King, Louis XIV, Rococo refers to a romantic, decorative style that developed in France in the early 18th century.
The name “Rococo” originates from the French term rocaille (meaning “rock-work”). The term refers to the forms of sea shells and corals. Used across a variety of decorative items, such as furniture, silverware and ceramics, as well as in art, Rococo has a sensuous, pretty style. It was also inspired by romantic interpretations of nature and femininity.
Image from contributor Everett – Art.
While Rococo is undeniably pretty and romantic in its aesthetic, some of the most interesting takes on the style by modern designers involve meshing the Rococo style with cutting-edge references, lifted from pop culture or social media.
Read on to be inspired by three ways designers are approaching the Rococo aesthetic in 2019.
1. Take a Playful Approach to Portraiture
Portraits of figures in Rococo dress, whether from original paintings or photographed, are given freshness and interest with modern references, gestures or situations.
Here, design studio Dasuno blends several modern elements, such as minimal makeup and 3D typography, with a Baroque wig and a pastel filter. This combination creates the perfect modern-vintage mix in their poster design for the Vienna Opera House. With opera looking to attract wider audiences, this edgy approach is perfectly pitched for the venue’s branding.
Poster by design studio Dasuno for the Vienna Opera House’s 2019 season.
The Rococo Romance trend can also apply beautifully to fashion imagery. The romantic, soft-focus aesthetic of the period pairs well with high-end fashion shoots.
In this series of images, Iranian photographer Mohammadreza Rezania captures models in a variety of reinterpreted “wigs,” constructed from cloth and wool in an organic fashion. A modern take on Rococo-era beauty, with rudimental makeup in shades of pink and baby blue, enhances the classical vibe.
Photography by Mohammadreza Rezania.
Try adding subtle modern references to Rococo-style portraits in your own photography and editorial projects. In these images by contributors Ramonki and iiiphevgeniy, using cake as a prop offers a high-fashion, indulgent angle.
2. Make Scrollwork Pop in 3D and Neon
The Rococo period is famed for its ornate approach to scrollwork and borders. Flowing ribbons, curling vines, and shellwork-adorned mirrors, picture frames and furniture give an incredibly romantic look to decorative items.
Prevent scrollwork from looking stuffy in your designs by employing a very modern approach. You can lift scrollwork into three-dimensional territory using either vector or modeling software.
South African designer and illustrator Katt Phatt modernizes scrollwork to breathtaking effect. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Adobe, and Pepsi have used his ornate work.
His reimagined identity design for rum brand Don Papa is modern Baroque at its finest. 3D scrollwork intertwines over lettering, exploding into a stunningly ornate label design. This effectively taps into the luxury branding of the drink.
Designs by Katt Phatt for Don Papa.
Phatt’s modern Baroque approach is extended to his Adobe Wax Work series, which takes old marblework as a starting point for creating a series of neon-flecked 3D icons for different Adobe apps. Phatt created these ornate designs using 3D program Corona Renderer.
Designs by Katt Phatt for Adobe Wax Works.
3. Experiment with Collage Styles and Pop Culture References
Rococo as a style might seem a little outdated for minimal modern tastes. But, when teamed with contemporary references it can make for compelling and often very witty imagery.
The key to making Rococo work for now? Mesh classical images with pop culture or technological references. Browse Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. Also lift ideas from contemporary fashion, food trends, and celebrity culture to create designs that will make viewers look twice.
Illustrator Jay Fletcher combines a Rococo-era portrait style with a halftone texture and witty slogan to create a memorable poster graphic.
Image by Jay Fletcher.
Use Photoshop to edit Rococo images creatively, like in this example by contributor Bro Crock. Any technique that can give a classical image a twist, whether through splicing statues or casting an oil painting of roses in shades of neon, will nail the Rococo Romance trend.
Image by contributor Bro Crock.
These poster designs for Theatre Louis Jouvet by French graphic designer Carlo Oliveira are another great example of creating a mishmash of classical and modern elements, to create a thoroughly contemporary style.
Poster designs by Carlo Oliveira for Theatre Louis Jouvet.
For the ultimate combination of Rococo and pop culture, look to the Modern Baroque Instagram account by radioshead. This collage artist combines art masterpieces with a variety of images lifted from movies, advertising, and social media, to give a completely fresh spin on classical works of art.
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Conclusion: How to Use Rococo Style in 2019
Rococo might be a classical style but that’s not to say it has lost any of its charm or relevance for modern-day designers. Its whimsical themes and elegant compositions make for memorable, engaging designs when meshed with contemporary elements.
Be bold and experimental. Experiment through collage, 3D effects, neon color palettes, or high-fashion photography to give your Rococo-inspired designs a twist worthy of 2019.
Why not embellish your Rococo-inspired designs with a script font? Check out these 20 free script fonts for elegant designs.
Background image via AnastasiaNess.
Cover image via GnxBnx.
Looking for more on design trends? Check out these articles:
Shutterstock’s 2019 Creative Trends
Invitation Hacks: Find Ideas and Free Calligraphy Fonts Here
Design Ideas: What To Do With Free Brush Fonts
Use 2019’s Most Popular Colors in Your On-Trend Designs
How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs
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