A visual trend that feels like spring

Adobe’s visual trend “Breath of Fresh Air” is all about that need to get out of your room and enjoy nature the moment winter gives way to spring.

Woman looking upwards with the sky as a background.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Westend61.

By Brenda Milis

Posted on 04-06-2021

Most people living in the middle latitudes between the tropics and the polar regions, best known as the temperate zones, are familiar with the term: fool’s spring. It is a brief period of unseasonably bright, warm, cheerful weather that’s followed by a return to cold, wet, late-winter. It may be brief, but it won’t stop everyone from pulling on a pair of shorts, grabbing a pair of sunglasses, and taking the fastest route to the nearest outdoor space.

Adobe Stock’s latest visual trend Breath of Fresh Air is all about the irrepressible, explosive need to get out of your room and enjoy nature the moment winter gives way to spring. It is a collection full of rolling hills, open windows, and wide open skies. After a year of sheltering in place, this trend captures the excitement to get outside no matter where you live — a trend with stoop-side playfulness and quiet suburban walks, as well as remote lakes and empty beaches.

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Practically outdoors

Cottegecore (a key aesthetic thread of Adobe’s design trend Austere Romanticism) projects a fantasy of simple, bucolic, countryside life. Breath of Fresh Air builds off this fantasy and brings it back to earth. After a long winter at home baking and completing home improvement projects, we are ready to make it outdoors on our own practical terms. And with environmentalism a growing part of mainstream conversation, we bring those values to our imagination of nature.

Credit: Left: Adobe Stock / Chelsea Victoria/Stocksy Right: Adobe Stock / Wirestock.

Highlighting the collection are visuals that celebrate the outdoors that are just a short drive away. With international travel on hold for now, our wanderlust will find a home in our backyards and outdoor spaces. Rather than bustling metropolises or remote vistas, Breath of Fresh Air documents the intersection between civilization and nature, with visuals that favor rustic cabins, farmland, and tiny villages, and a nod to a revival in camping

Credit: Adobe Stock / Westend61.

Getting our hands dirty

Aside from weather, after a long year of being sequestered indoors, the need to feel connected with nature in a direct and tangible way is ever-present. There has been a notable resurgence in homesteading, with states reviving free land programs and creating digital series about it.

These elements contribute to a visual landscape rich with images of farming, foraging, and ranching. There is a specific kind of satisfaction we gain from activities like picking lettuce with our bare hands. There is also a focus on the role farming and produce can play in sharing traditions across generations, with images documenting children gardening and picking vegetables with parents and grandparents.

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While much of Breath of Fresh Air brings us to rural settings, it is equally a trend of the suburbs and cities. Families and urbanites with a green thumb are finding that even in the most crowded city blocks, there is a place for nature. This interest pops up in things like community gardening, community pantries, and community fridges, which help us trace the connections between environmental sustainability, food insecurity, and community-based activism. But it also manifests in the simple pleasures of tending to a robust patio or rooftop garden.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Hero Images/Hero Images.

Increasing awareness

Last year some of the most dramatic signs of climate change took place before our eyes. Australia and the Western U.S. saw unprecedented wildfires, leading to the uncanny and unsettling images of cities engulfed in an orange haze. The Atlantic Ocean saw a record number of named storms. This took place in a social media landscape with an increased awareness of the role activism plays in the discourse about climate change. In 2021, while people are eager to embrace nature, they are doing so critically, and with caution.

Movements like Lo-TEK Design remind us of the wisdom carried and enacted by Indigenous communities across the globe, and the role this plays in keeping our planet habitable. Breath of Fresh Air reminds us that our urge to be a part of nature is inseparable from our need to take care and advocate for its preservation. While showcasing the beauty of nature, this trend also seeks to represent the ways communities have long learned to live in harmony with their ecosystems.

Organizations like Hike Clerb, an intersectional women’s hiking club, advocate for women of color while they embrace healing and rejuvenation outdoors. They fight against the predominantly white bias in outdoor sports. Stock images this year should reflect this increased awareness of inclusive representation, showing that everyone has a place in nature.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Cavan Images.

Breathing easy everywhere

If 2021 is anything like last year, when rural Airbnb reservations increased by 25 percent, many of us will use our spring breaks and summer vacations to reconnect with nature away from the city. Even as vaccinations roll out, many of us will be trying to find ways to enjoy the warmer months in less crowded environments. But for every week we have away from work, there is many more where we are finding ways to make connecting with nature a part of our daily lives.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Monica.

Ultimately, what Breath of Fresh Air shows us is that there is more than one way to be in nature or fill our lungs with oxygen. It can be out in the wide open spaces of the world, a short car-ride away, or even just down the block.

Explore the visual trend: Breath of Fresh Air on Adobe Stock.

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