Aesthetics Wiki

This article is part of a series on the Frutiger Family

Dark Aero, also known as Mata Nero or Frutiger Ego, is a sub-genre of Frutiger Aero popular from c. 2006-2015. Dark Aero uses a darker color palette contrasting the depth-filled colorful motifs characteristic of Frutiger Aero. This gave the aesthetic a more simplistic look, which lead to it still being used after Frutiger Aero's decline. Another one of Dark Aero's main signature characteristics is aero glass. Dark Aero can be described as the middle ground between Frutiger Aero and Skeuomorphism due to its Frutiger Aero-esque imagery combined with Skeuomorphism's color palette. Whilst Frutiger Aero was more commonly used for mass market and commercial products, Dark Aero focused on high-end and enterprise-oriented items and services. Dark Aero was also commonly used for for modern tech such as smartphones, computers, TVs, cars, etc.


Beginnings (2001-2006)[]

In the early 2000s, Dark Aero emerged as an alternative variant of Frutiger Aero, featuring a darker visual style. Dark Aero's first documented appearance was in Windows Longhorn, a beta version of Windows Vista (developed from 2001-2006); this was during the transition period from Y2K Futurism to Frutiger Aero. Dark Aero preserves the futuristic element of Frutiger Aero while largely omitting the nature/eco side of it. The futuristic approach of Dark Aero centers more around electronics rather than humanism, contrasting Frutiger Aero's style of futurism. During Dark Aero's beginning period in the early 2000s, it went largely unused and was over-shadowed by Frutiger Aero. In the late 2000s-early 2010s, Dark Aero's popularity gradually increased until it started to become more widely adopted across various systems and user interfaces. This was accompanied by the slow decline of Frutiger Aero, which began in 2012-2013.

Windows Longhorn

Windows Longhorn

Prime (2006-2015)[]

Dark Aero's prime encompasses the late 2000s-mid 2010s (c. 2006-2015). During this period, Dark Aero was most commonly associated with electronics, futurism, neon lights, electronica/dubstep music, flares, beams, holograms, etc. While it has found some presence in the corporate realm, it was most frequently embraced among the younger generation and internet culture, such as gamers, DJs, and programmers.

Decline (Post-2015)[]

Dark Aero persisted until the mid-2010s (2015-2017), until most big-tech companies decided to implement Flat Design, which marked the end of Frutiger Aero's mainstream usage along with its sub-genres. Despite Dark Aero's decline after 2015, it still continued to be used by several apps, websites and several Linux distributions. However, instead of classic Dark Aero, it was updated into a much more sleek and lighter version, featuring less glossy and futuristic elements, and making use of humanism again. This became known as Post-Morphism.


Dark Aero can largely be described as more 'sleek' and 'cleaner' than Frutiger Aero due to its partial omission of varied color palettes, often achieving a less 'cluttered' look than its father-aesthetic. Motifs commonly associated with Dark Aero include, but are not limited to, bokeh, aurora borealis, gloss, aero glass, and futuristic designs. Dark Aero's visuals were also inspired by electronics, waves, spectrum, lasers, electronic pulses, etc. These elements give the aesthetic a sense of futuristic allure and technological wonder. Moreover, Dark Aero extends beyond the limitations of Frutiger Aero, It embraces a diverse array of backgrounds and textures, such as the elegant graphite, obsidian, dark cement, metal and various other dark textures.

Related Aesthetics[]

Frutiger Aurora[]

Main article: Frutiger Aurora

Frutiger Aurora is a subgenre of Frutiger Aero that focuses on the aurora visual; an aurora is a natural light display in Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). Auroras display dynamic patterns of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky. Frutiger Aurora emerged in the Early-2000s towards the end of the Y2K Futurism era and maintained it's popularity into the Early-2010s. The aurora visual is also commonplace in Dark Aero, leading to varied degrees of overlap between the two.


Main article: Holo

Holo, also known as Dark Skeuomorphism, is a device theme and Skeuomorphism sub-aesthetic. It was developed by Google in Android versions 3.0 to 4.4 (four separate releases) and was used from 2011-2014. It was used in Honeycomb (2011), Ice Cream Sandwich (2011), Jelly Bean (2012), and KitKat (2013). Holo is a subgenre to and very similar to Skeuomorphism due to it's use of depth, texture, shading, and pseudo-3D imagery that attempts to mimic real world objects. This version of Skeuomorphism, however, is more watered down and flatter. Holo's backgrounds can be described as dark, simplistic yet calming due to its "cold" color palette; the most common colors are black, blue, indigo, violet, cyan, and purple. This is normally complimented with see-through abstract patterns or graphical effects. Holo is similar to Dark Aero due to its color palette and its utilization in UI/UX design.


Main article: Skeuomorphism

Post-Morphism, Also known as Skeuoflatism, Flat Skeuomorphism or alternatively Matte Design, was used during the decline of Skeuomorphism, which marked the transition from saturated realism to a simpler interface design. This design trend combines elements of Skeuomorphism and Flat Design. It features a simpler version of Skeuomorphism that doesn't use realistic textures but instead uses a bit of glossy shadows, reflections, subtle gradients and lighting effects. Dark Aero and Post-Morphism both share the element of being a more sleek and less detailed version of their parent-aesthetics.



  • Cars (2006)
  • Cars 2 (2011)
  • TRON: Legacy (2010)

Video Games[]

  • Angry Birds Space (2012)
  • Audiosurf (2008)
  • Audiosurf 2 (2013)
  • Blur (2010)
  • Guitar Hero 2 (2010)
  • Mortal Kombat (2011)
  • Need for Speed: Carbon (2006)
  • Need for Speed: World (2010)
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)
  • Split/Second (2010)



  • deadmau5
  • TheFatRat





Operating Systems (OS)[]


  • Sony Xperia Wallpapers (2011-2014)
  • Windows 10 Default Wallpaper (2015)
  • "Only Black" Theme for Windows 7 by Tonev
  • SkeuoCord BetterDiscord theme (2021)
  • iOS Coverflow feature (2007 - 2012)