Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design


Retro and vintage are becoming a new trend. Once rarely used in this robust, dynamic medium, early, retro and vintage elements are now becoming more and more popular in a variety of design contexts. Online shops, corporate designs, portfolios and blogs incorporate both styles on a small and large scale. When applying “old-style” elements to their works, designers produce creative and appealing designs that make their websites stand out and look really different. As a matter of fact, if executed carefully, such designs almost never look boring, although one might intuitively think that the opposite would be the case.

Retro and vintage designs exhibit graphic solutions that are strongly influenced by the time period that they are supposed to represent. While retro focuses on the style of the 1910s to 1930s, vintage recalls the time period between the 1950s and 1980s. In both cases, design elements reflect some old-fashioned motifs, trends, personalities and objects that had been an essential part of our lives in the past.

Such elements create a nostalgic atmosphere, awaken feelings and memories and attempt to communicate information effectively using emotions. Some such designs make use of so-called “classical conditioning” — a technique used to associate a stimulus with an unconscious physical or emotional response.

The Secrets Of Vintage and Retro Designs

What elements do designers use to create a genuine vintage or retro atmosphere? What colors are used? And what kinds of graphics are usually embedded in such designs? Let’s find out. According to our research, common graphic elements for such designs are:

  • illustrations from old posters, movies, newspapers, CDs, vinyls, ads;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old-style typography (e.g. Roman typefaces);

    Retro and Vintage

  • script fonts and handwriting;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old radio devices;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old TV devices;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old cars;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old packaging;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old photos;

    Retro and Vintage

  • vibrant rainbow colors (high contrast, neon-style);

    Retro and Vintage

  • torn, used paper with stains (often yellowish paper);

    Retro and Vintage

  • dark, dirty colors (brown, dark red, dark blue) and textures (e.g. paper);

    Retro and Vintage

  • scrapbooks;

    Retro and Vintage

  • pop-art elements (see also Pop Art Is Alive: Classics and Modern Artworks1);

    Retro and Vintage

  • retro illustrations;

    Retro and Vintage

  • old-style signs;

    Retro and Vintage

  • vintage and retro are often combined with a hand-drawing style2 and grunge style3.

Some designs go even further and not only use retro or vintage elements but try to achieve a Renaissance look. You can find some examples of such designs at the end of this post. You can find even more inspiration for similar designs in our post Celebration of Vintage and Retro Design4.

In all of these cases, designers use their creativity to offer something truly different and make the design literally stand out. Let’s take a look at some beautiful examples of what can be achieved using this technique.

Below, you’ll find a showcase of 50 beautiful retro, vintage and Renaissance designs. Some of them are Flash-based, and most of them are CSS-based: for us it was not important how the design was achieved; rather, it was more important what came out of the designer’s approach in the end.

Showcase Of Retro and Vintage Web Designs

CSS Tinderbox5 (the design is different now – the site was recently redesigned)

Retro and Vintage Designs - CSS Tinderbox6

Custom Design7

Retro and Vintage Designs - Custom Design | graphic, product and web design8

Big Rig Design9

Retro and Vintage Designs - Big Rig Design - Design and Marketing10


Retro and Vintage Designs - - Web Design and Development12

FortySeven Media13

Retro and Vintage Designs14

Jeffrey Sarmiento15

Retro and Vintage Designs - Portfolio and blog of Jeffrey Sarmiento a web designer/developer from Toronto, Canada currently working for FreshBooks16

Klassiker in Acryl17

Retro and Vintage Designs18


Retro and Vintage Designs - 20

Rob Across America21

Retro and Vintage Designs - Rob Across America22


Retro and Vintage Designs - - Unimpressed With The West24

Dallas Advertising Agency25

Retro and Vintage Designs - Dallas Advertising Agency, Dallas Advertising Agencies, Web Design, Website Designers, Dallas Flash Design26

Sensi Soft27

Retro and Vintage Designs - Sensi Soft28


Retro and Vintage Designs - mediaBOOM | ...delivering smart internet and design solutions30

The New York Moon31

Retro and Vintage Designs - The New York Moon - Neighborhood32

~ The Statement ~ The Official Blog of The Old State33

Retro and Vintage Designs - ~ The Statement ~ The Official Blog of The Old State34

MacTarnahan’s Brewing Company35

Retro and Vintage Designs - MacTarnahan's Brewing Company36

ISO50 – The Visual Work of Scott Hansen37

Retro and Vintage Designs - ISO50 - The Visual Work of Scott Hansen38

Tricycle Terror39

Retro and Vintage Designs - Tricycle Terror40

Charlies Loan41

Retro and Vintage Designs - Charlies Loan Payday Loans Short term cash loans fast42

Small Stone Recordings43

Retro and Vintage Designs - Small Stone Recordings44

Big Cartel45

Retro and Vintage Designs - Big Cartel » Bringing the Art to the Cart46

The Ernest Hemingway Collection47

Retro and Vintage Designs - The Ernest Hemingway Collection48


Retro and Vintage Designs - » Home » Front Page50

Five Cent Stand – Bitter Kiss51

Retro and Vintage Designs - Five Cent Stand - Bitter Kiss52

Tennessee Vacation53

Retro and Vintage Designs - Tennessee Vacation - The State's Official Travel Planning Website54


Retro and Vintage Designs - Prahba | Creative Minds: Graphic and Web Design56

Thigpen Designs57

Retro and Vintage Designs - Thigpen Designs - 770.527.395858

Team Mongolmania59

Retro and Vintage Designs - Team Mongolmania60


Retro and Vintage Designs - » tomatic® - splendid hypertext | a thomas marban venture62

The Superest63

Retro and Vintage Designs - The Superest: Who is the superest hero of them all?64

Red&Blu Winter ’08-’0965

Retro and Vintage Designs - // / RedBlu Winter '08-'09 // /66


Retro and Vintage Designs - Lataka, més de 5 anys d' experiencia dissenyant pagines web profesionals68


Retro and Vintage Designs - Booreiland - platform for creative productions70


Retro and Vintage Designs - Fuelhaus Brand Strategy, Marketing, Design Agency72


Retro and Vintage Designs - intensify.org74


Retro and Vintage Designs76

The Dollar Dreadful Family Library77

Retro and Vintage Designs78

Creating Passionate Users79

Retro and Vintage Designs80

Dennis Jones Artwork81

Retro and Vintage Designs82

Capitol Media83

Retro and Vintage Designs84

One Horse Shy85

Retro and Vintage Designs86

The Lippincott87

Retro and Vintage Designs88

BlackMoon Development89

Retro and Vintage Designs90

Sourcebits TangledDecals91

Retro and Vintage Designs92

FOWA Miami93

Retro and Vintage Designs94

Bestial design95

Retro and Vintage Designs96

The First Twenty97

Retro and Vintage Designs98

The Blizzards99

Retro and Vintage Designs100


Retro and Vintage Designs102

Internet Zillionaire103

Retro and Vintage Designs104



Retro and Vintage Designs106


Retro and Vintage Designs108


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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Super showcase here. Very inspiring indeed. Thanks.

  2. 52

    Time to realize it.
    hand made art desigs show tecture and contract.

  3. 103

    damn fine collection. thanx

  4. 154

    very inspiring!


  5. 205

    Jonathan Longnecker

    October 8, 2008 6:13 am

    Thanks for including us; we’re honored to be mentioned with these amazing designs! – FortySeven Media.

  6. 256

    thanks for including the CSS Tinderbox, especially as the lead off for a great list of some seriously kick ass sites. i appreciate being included.

    i still love the “nior” design and it’s one of my favorites. i think i hit the sweet spot with that one. thanks again!

  7. 307

    Pretty much all of those sites suffer from the same thing. You get to the page and you have to start hunting around for the links and content.

    The designs are excellent and I enjoy them but usability seems to be a forgotten aspect for many sites I see these days. If the user can’t clearly and easily find what they want hasn’t the point of the page been lost?

  8. 358

    Benjamin Jancewicz

    October 8, 2008 10:26 am

    So; retro means lots of happy people with no melanin in their skin…

  9. 409

    hey i’ve got a retro design too on my page! You can see it by clicking “О сайте” (“about site”) on the very bottom of the screen :)

  10. 460

    great collection.
    I have to agree with Simon above.
    retro designs almost always compromise over usability.
    a very interesting challenge indeed.

  11. 511

    Just adding another very interesting one from Nokia.

  12. 562

    “Retro and vintage are becoming a new trend. Once rarely used in this robust, dynamic medium, early, retro and vintage elements are now becoming more and more popular in a variety of design contexts.”

    I doubt it. The retro style has been around for ages and as far back as I can remember, it had been a theme on whenever I was browsing their sites for ideas and inspiration. To say it is becoming a new trend is a huge oversight.

    Good article and great examples, but let’s be a little more educated and do some research when writing an article. Retro has been around for at least the past 7+ years, perhaps more. Starting with such examples as Sparky’s Garage (no longer up), Big Fat Institute, versions of Altoids site and Fossils original design.

  13. 613
  14. 664

    Theres a site i just came across that would fit this style, Carrot Creative.

  15. 715

    The vintage style has been around, but I think this year is finally tipping point of vintage and retro design. Vintage style is somewhat opposite for web 2.0 style, at least for me. People has seen so much “gradient corners” lately that it may be a time for something else. At least one project to do.

    However vintage site could include a combination of different trends where you can find elements used on 2.0 also. is a site where these two trends are lightly mixed up. Glad to hear your comment. –

    P.S Be warned: There is no “color” on that web site.

  16. 766

    wow . i loved tangled decals design man …gr8 site …

    thanx to share this collection of retros …

  17. 817

    Great stuff here. Thanks for sharing

  18. 868

    retro and vintage are very nice!

  19. 919

    Wow! Beautiful stuff, and very inspirational. Thanks!

  20. 970

    Shame tinderbox dropped the featured look in this article.

  21. 1021

    This is a great retro website that you guys missed: Prosperity Social Club. Its also a great retro bar in Cleveland too!

  22. 1072

    Nice article, but disappointed that Bradley Schenck’s sites were not referenced – he’s been doing these sites since 1997 and IMO is the leader in “retro-active” web design. (I have no relation, just a fan of is work). dub dub dub dot webomator dot com…great tutorials links and inspiration.

  23. 1123

    web design company

    October 11, 2008 10:13 pm

    Nice cover of Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

  24. 1174

    October 13, 2008 9:51 am

    I love vintage.

  25. 1225

    Fantastic collection.

  26. 1276

    what you called old radio device, is actually an old tape-echo unit interface, The Roland Space Echo, awesome device if you are a musician

  27. 1327

    Sehr schöne Auswahl, Gratulation. Und hier ist noch eine Retro-Site:
    Internetagentur Filos Frankfurt

  28. 1378

    This post makes me happy in the same way as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Props for a nice collection indeed.

  29. 1429

    November 28, 2008 5:25 pm

    Love a few of these.. not easy to pull off.. but most impressive if executed correctly.

  30. 1480

    wow! I’ll book mark this page as a “go to” list for web design firms. thanks for scouring the web and putting this list together!

  31. 1531

    Nice vintage! look at “Marco Tagliaferri – Made in Italy” website with a really vintage look!

  32. 1582

    SOboWO hi! hooli?

  33. 1633

    Attitude Design | Graphic Design Portfolio

    February 24, 2009 6:35 am

    Some really cool examples of retro/vintage designs here – also check out for design styles during the WW2 years.

  34. 1684

    Miss Lizzy D. Vine

    April 24, 2009 9:10 pm

    i was very impressed. i would like to acquire someones help for a few .coms

  35. 1735

    LOVE these. Thanks for the inspiration!

  36. 1786

    FYI: The example of “old radio devices” is not related to radio at all. It’s the well-known Roland Space Echo, a combination reverb/echo unit that became famous in the music biz in the ’70s. They’re still sought after and used today. Not at all an obscure item.
    Might need an actual old radio device to go under that heading. Or a new heading of “old electronic devices.”

  37. 1837

    Two great sites created by an incredible artist, Scott Rogers, may he RIP. First, his band The Penetrators – – brilliant, retro artwork. Just look through the gallery to see. He created the artwork for the Atlanta Starlight Six Drive-In as well – and I wish was still up (the original, not the flakey current magazine site) because his work really shined. RIP RIP.

  38. 1888

    Hi this is a little mini site I am working on for a local vintage secondhand boutique. Ecoco Boutique. I hope you guys like it and it is a bit inspiring.

  39. 1939

    You TOTALLY forgot an award winner: Prospect Denim by Media Boom

  40. 1990

    Very nice list,
    Check out this one with a girly retro style :

  41. 2041

    Here is an incredible example of a retro music site:

  42. 2092

    these are the good design, i was planning to have one for

  43. 2143

    a very well described info…
    gonna’ need more like this stuff around :)

  44. 2194

    James McKenzie

    May 14, 2010 7:33 am

    I’m always amazed at the breadth of your collections. How do you guys find this stuff? People must be submitting their sites to you all the time. Anyway, thanks for the post – great work.

  45. 2245

    Very inspiring!

  46. 2296

    Nuruzzaman Sheikh

    February 5, 2012 5:18 am

    Now, I’m in love with retro. Thanx for this great collection.

  47. 2347

    Rajesh Wankhade

    May 5, 2012 12:27 pm

    Wow! I love retro designs

  48. 2398

    Perhaps they missed it because your site does not look retro at all. And even if it was a couple years ago, why would you think that they should notice it? You are a designer from Switzerland with an unpopular website.

  49. 2449

    I believe he knows that, he only wanted people to click on it to increase his page rank. I guess he doesn’t know that having people voluntarily visit his site is far more valuable than tricking them into it.


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