Welcome to 2019:
Just when you thought the future was flat, brands like Pitch and Stripe are throwing their brand weight behind a new-old-fashioned form of illustration: 3D.
Not content with the cut-out illustration style popularized by Slack, designers are looking to add depth and realism to graphics designed to blur the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.
In a sense, this sharpens the contrast between digital products and human beings, even as it brings them together into imaginary spaces where people can grasp and manipulate digital elements (like the graphs and icons in Pitch’s hero section). You can’t help but think of the popular assertion that Facebook’s real disruption is the way it makes us, its users, into the product — and wonder if designers aren’t subconsciously pushing against this notion.
Of course, if that’s the case, this feels like a merely incremental evolution. These designs don’t so much grant people their humanity back as render them from flat illustrations into cartoons.
With that in mind, perhaps Stripe’s much more realistic credit card animation offers a glimpse of a future where the physical and digital can be rendered as such.