Flat design is established to the point where many are starting to iterate and experiment with the basic principles in ways that break some of the basic rules of flat design while still clearly relying on the style for the overall effect. Apple’s new iOS7, for example, is heavily influenced by flat design, but as many have noted, is not even close to being completely flat.
One flat design inspired trend that is quickly gaining some popularity is “long shadow” design. It’s hard to call it a full design trend, but it is certainly a unique effect that is starting to pop up across the web.
Long shadow design “produces an effect like looking at an object late on a Winter’s day,” as Ben Moss from Web Designer Depot so poetically described it. It replicates when shadows draw out to dramatic proportions adding significant depth while not completely detracting from an overall flat aesthetic.
The trend is typified by a 45 degree shadow that extends far out, gradually evaporating. The look is very similar to the early Soviet style used on posters and collages by designers such as Kazimir Malevich, which makes it great for icons and branding.
Long shadow design isn’t going to grow legs outside of flat design, but it is a sign that flat design isn’t going to stay completely flat for long.