Tropicalism is a design trend we’re already seeing quite a bit of in 2023. You’ll know it thanks to bright colors, fun illustrations and a breezy feel that reminds you of summer (and maybe a cold drink).

It’s a trend that draws inspiration from tropical landscapes, flora and fauna. It is characterized by bright, bold colors, patterns with tropical leaves and flowers, and images of exotic birds and animals. The trend often includes organic shapes, textures and materials to create a lush and tropical atmosphere.

The design trend extends to all elements of design, including website, illustration and print. Here’s a look at the trend and how to make the most of it in your projects.

What is tropism?

Tropicalism is a derivative of the tropicália movement in Brazil dating from the 1960s. According to Google Art and Culture:

“Tropicália is one of the most important cultural movements in Brazil, which includes music, film, visual art and theater. The term tropicália was first coined by artist Hélio Oiticica for an artwork of the same name, which he exhibited at MAM Rio in 1967.”

Tropicalism was everywhere during that time and especially noticeable in the artwork for many albums, including the example above from the cover of Caetano Veloso in 1968.

What’s most striking about this design style – then and now – is that it came from a time period that was somewhat different from the vibrantly colorful imagery. The design was to create a happier atmosphere in a time of turmoil or strife. Due to years of the COVID pandemic, it is no surprise that this style is becoming popular again for that reason.

Key features of this design trend

Tropicalism is quite easy to spot because of a rather beachy feel. Tropicalism design is characterized by a vibrant and playful aesthetic that celebrates the natural beauty of the tropics and even evokes a sense of escape.

Common design elements include:

  • Vibrant Colors: Tropicalism often features bright, tropical-inspired hues such as green, blue, pink and yellow.
  • Nature-inspired motifs: You will find lots of tropical plants, leaves and flowers incorporated into these design schemes.
  • Organic shapes: Designs often have natural, curved shapes and flowing lines, evoking a sense of growth and movement.
  • Texture: Rattan, bamboo and wicker are common in tropical design.
  • Folk art: Tropicalism often incorporates elements of traditional folk art, such as hand-painted pottery or textiles.
  • Bold prints: Large-scale and bright prints are typical in tropical design, which often features abstract designs inspired by nature.

Tropicalism can also be seen as a celebration of diverse cultures, with elements from various tropical regions around the world influencing the designs. This trend often includes traditional handmade techniques and motifs, which add to its unique and authentic feel.

Ways to use tropicalism in design projects

From digital to printed projects, tropicalism has a wide variety of uses to create a very specific atmosphere.

For the most part, you will find tropism as an illustrated element in design projects. This can include framing for other design elements such as text or as a background image. Elements can be small or large and feel realistic or a little fantastic.

One of the most common uses of tropism is in the intersection with other creative mediums such as music and art, making it a popular technique for painting, music covers and even package design.

Other ideas for using tropism include:

  • Wallpaper or interior design
  • Furniture and lighting
  • Textiles and home decor
  • Art projects
  • Social media campaigns
  • Color palette inspiration
  • Patterns for design backgrounds
  • Invitations or printed cards

3 Examples of Tropism We Love

Not only is tropism trendy, but it also just makes us feel good. Big prints, bright colors and fun aesthetics are hard not to love. These three websites do an excellent job of mixing tropical themes into their design projects.

paper Brazil

As a Brazilian company, this website is a somewhat expected use of the trend. The mix of tropical elements with the product and packaging is a nice touch. It has a fun feel but isn’t overpowering.

Tropical Moscato

With a tropical vibe, this design shows that the trend doesn’t have to be redundant to work effectively. There’s still a fun, light feel while highlighting the product.

The Magic Pantry

There is a yin and yang effect with tropicalism in this storybook website by Kerrygold. The character in the web adventure – you choose your own options – is sad. It’s a direct conflict with the fun vibe of this design trend, but it still works thanks to color, great illustrations, and a natural feel. It shows that you can stretch a bit with the design when you try this trend.

3 templates to get started with tropism

Think tropicalism could be great for an upcoming project and don’t know where to start? We found some templates with just the right feel to start your design inspiration.

Tropical summer frames

Bright leaf and flower illustrations are paired with bold text boxes in various styles. The vector illustrations can be used for anything from a background print to invitations.

Summer Weekend Poster

This layered PSD has many options for a bright poster or invitation design. The bright color really makes this design stand out.

Summer Vacation and Travel Landing Page Template

Also use the tropicalism theme for a website design. This landing page template has a simple tropical feel that isn’t overpowering and is easy to incorporate into almost any other website theme. The vector illustration is included in the design package and everything is editable.


Tropicalism is a fun design trend rooted in some pretty important history. We love the look and feel – bright, fun and visually interesting – and hope to see more of this website and graphic design trend throughout 2023.

Is this something you think you would design with? To maximize the trend’s potential, start with a small element — like the Wallet Hub example — and expand the aesthetic from there.

Source link