Flat design isn’t dying, but in 2018 it’s certainly having to learn to adapt to stay relevant. This new, so-called Flat 2.0 or semi-flat design, relies on adding nuance and depth to its prior ascetic identity. How is it doing that? By indulging in a few design taboos: gradients and shadows. But don’t worry, it’s only in moderation.Since 2007, gradients have conjured images of corporate Powerpoint presentations, 00s era web headers, and dated logo designs.

But in 2018 they’re back, albeit evolved. Gradients are now rocking vibrant, updated colours palettes and softer, subtler transitions. They’re making a splash on brands like Instagram, Stripe, and even Apple’s iOS icons. Thanks to headway made in web browser functionality, we’re also seeing a revival of shadows. Like gradients, shadows were shelved in favor of minimalism and 2D design.

Realism and skeuomorphism are still out, but in 2018 designers will be experimenting more and more with updated, softened, and stylised shadows in their work. Flat design was a radical departure from the skeuomorphism and hyperreality of the 00s, but has the pendulum swung too far? In 2018, we’ll continue towards a best-of-both-worlds situation, in which clever reintroduction of shadows and gradients can add both functionality and beauty.

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