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This article is part of a series on the Frutiger Family

Frutiger Aero (also known as Web 2.0 Gloss) is a broad design style and aesthetic that was prevalent in advertising, media, stock imagery and technology from roughly 2004 to 2013, following the end of the Y2K Futurism era. Overlapping with the McBling and Electropop 08 aesthetics, it is characterized by its vast use of Skeuomorphism, glossy textures, cloudy skies, tropical fish, water, bubbles, glass, lens flare, sprawling patterns, "humanism", aero glass, bokeh, Frutiger fonts, Abstract Tech, auroras and bright, vibrant colors (usually greens and blues).

This aesthetic was originally unnamed at the time, being more associated with specific styles (e.g., Windows Aero, iOS's skeuomorphic icons, and the visuals of Mirror's Edge and Spore) rather than a broader aesthetic. Some referred to it as "Web 2.0 Gloss" during the time when the aesthetic was mainstream, however it was mostly used as an adjective to describe the glossy elements of Frutiger Aero rather than the aesthetic as a whole. The term "Frutiger Aero" was coined in 2017 by Sofi Lee of the Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute and went viral in 2022, leading to renewed interest in the aesthetic. Frutiger Aero contains many sub-aesthetics/related aesthetics; these include, but are not limited to: Frutiger Metro, Technozen, Frutiger Eco, and Helvetica Aqua Aero.

Frutiger Aero is named after Adrian Frutiger (who created the Frutiger fonts commonly used alongside Frutiger Aero) and Windows Aero (the UI theme of Windows Vista/7), which spread outward and influenced many other companies' design choices the era.

History[]

Primitive Stages (2001–2004)[]

The earliest signs of Frutiger Aero appeared in 2001 with the releases of Microsoft's Windows XP and Apple's Mac OS X 10.0. The "Bliss" desktop background of XP and the skeuomorphic design of OS X (itself was derived from early versions of iMovie) have been noted by some as precursors to FA, though both have also been categorized as part of the Y2K Futurism era. It was also at this time that Microsoft began development of Windows Longhorn (later renamed Windows Vista), with elements of what was to become the Windows Aero theme gradually being added.

Mainstream Adoption (2004–2007)[]

The mainstreaming of Frutiger Aero began in Late-2004 with the releases of Windows Media Player 10 (featuring design ideas found in Longhorn), the start of the Seventh Generation of Video Game Consoles with the Nintendo DS (first to kick off this generation, despite the Y2K-esque and Technozen-esque designs) and the PlayStation Portable (XrossMediaBar, in development since the PSX in 2003), and Apple's iPod "Silhouette" advertising campaign (Four Colors). Frutiger Aero began to become more common in 2005 and 2006, with the release of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Longhorn Build 5048 (the first build where the system's entire UI was Aero), Windows Vista Beta 1, the Xbox 360 (Blades Dashboard), Nintendo DS Lite, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii.

By 2007, with the release of Windows Vista (retail version), the first iPhone (iPhone OS 1.0), and Mac OS X Leopard (10.5), Frutiger Aero was completely established. As the Y2K Futurism aesthetic was fading, the nature-oriented designs were seen by some as "humanizing" tech and making it more accessible to a wider audience, in comparison to the edgier and Sci-Fi designs of Y2K Futurism and Metalheart.

Prime (2007–2012)[]

During Frutiger Aero's prime, most advertising, media, stock imagery and technology released during this time embodied the aesthetic or was heavily influenced by it. Frutiger Aero also shares similarities with the Y2K Futurism aesthetic and is considered its successor, as it shares a similar bright and glossy futuristic look, albeit in a more refined, corporate form. It was also concurrent with the McBling, Surf Crush, and ElectroPop 08 aesthetics, and overlaps with them with varying degrees. During this time, various sub-aesthetics began to arise due to the Frutiger Umbrella becoming increasingly broad in nature.

Decline and Dormancy (2012–present)[]

In 2012, the skeuomorphic look of Frutiger Aero (i.e. Windows 7) started to fade in favor of the Flat Design look (i.e. Windows 8/10). Nintendo's Wii U (2012) was the last videogame console that used Frutiger Aero in full. However, the Wii U was a commercial failure, only selling 13.56 million units, further contributing to Frutiger Aero's demise. In some cases, companies switched first to Frutiger Metro, then to Flat Design. By 2013, Flat Design began overshadowing Frutiger Aero, the release of iOS 7 being the most major example of this. In 2017, a minimalist web/tech aesthetic appeared known as Corporate Memphis, officially symbolizing the death of Frutiger Aero. However, there are still some areas where Frutiger Aero is used today, especially in retail boxes for medical and cleaning products, as well as school textbooks, and in TV Channels to a limited extent (e.g. The GMA Logo from 2011-Present in The Philippines, CPC Kazakhstan (until 2017), Belarus-1 (Until today) and Russia-1 (Until Today)). Frutiger Aero is still used in News Intros, especially in the "Вести" News Idents, of Russia-1, and TVR Telejurnal in Romania, in a small amount.

Revival and Neo-Aero (2022–present)[]

The term "Frutiger Aero" was coined by Sofi Lee of the Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute in 2017, leading to a gradual increase in interest in the aesthetic. Since late 2022, it has made a comeback via TikTok videos in the form of nostalgia, with the hashtag "#frutigeraero" being used over 30 million times[1] with Frutiger Aero effects or filters.

In August 2023, a TikTok post specifically about the aesthetic was posted on the official Windows TikTok account. Furthermore, some believe Windows 11 is related to Frutiger Aero or contains a successor-aesthetic (Glassmorphism), as seen in this promotional material. On Ukrainian Wikipedia, a full article has appeared describing Frutiger Aero, including a history, visuals, and list of uses section. In the "Legacy" section of the Windows Aero Wikipedia article, Frutiger Aero is recognized to have existed. The section features a small description of the aesthetic describing its visuals and history.

Aero's resurgence is similar to the Y2K Futurism revival, a phenomenon that has occurred since the Mid-Late 2010s. Given this Neo-Y2K trend, it is also likely a "Neo-Aero" movement is currently underway or will be underway in the future. This is an example of the "20-year nostalgia cycle", as Frutiger Aero began triggering mass-nostalgia for people around 18 years after its emergence.

Visuals[]

Key elements of UIs that use Frutiger Aero include linear gradients (typically seen on buttons and navigation bars), bloom/glow, and a shine/sheen on many elements in effort of making them look 3D and realistic. Frutiger Aero visuals, at first glance, can be mistaken for simply being the Y2K Futurism aesthetic in action, but the biggest difference is that the images tend to have higher-definition visuals and less primitive 3D visuals compared to most Y2K imagery (largely due to Frutiger Aero emerging just as HD video began to become popular). The visuals of Frutiger Aero somewhat lack the "anything goes" mentality often associated with the Y2K aesthetic (i.e. the "Green Head" of Windows ME's Media Player), going for more of a refined look. The Frutiger Aero look is often considered the "halfway point" between the busyness of the Y2K Futurism era and the minimalism of the Flat Design/Corporate Memphis era. Common motifs associated with Frutiger Aero are Skeuomorphism, glossy textures, "humanism", use of nature, bokeh, bubbles, Frutiger fonts, glass, and auroras. Some Frutiger Aero designs prominently use the color blue to mimic the ocean or to resemble Abstract Tech, while others go for a green, more nature-like approach.

Subgenres & Related Aesthetics[]

Main article: Frutiger Family

The Frutiger time period encompassed the zeitgeist of the Mid-2000s (2004) to the Early-2010s (2013). Frutiger Aero and its related aesthetics/subgenres encompassed and dominated advertising, stock imagery, technology, web design, branding, and media during the period it was mainstream. The Frutiger era succeeded the Y2K Futurism era and preceded the Flat Design era, often being considered the middle ground between the two. Frutiger Aero itself is increasingly broad leading the internet to assigning sub-categories to it to better understand it and its intricacies.

Subgenres[]

Frutiger Eco[]

Main article: Frutiger Eco

Frutiger Aero images centered around environmentalism and nature have come to be known as Frutiger Eco. Frutiger Eco is a broad sub-aesthetic of Frutiger Aero. It focuses on renewable energy, living in harmony with nature, while also incorporating futuristic themes and architecture centered around nature and sustainability. Frutiger Eco was a popular aesthetic prevalent in images, advertising, graphic design, etc., of the Mid-2000s to Early-2010s that tried to spread awareness of climate change while also encouraging optimism in the form of images portraying a utopian, eco-friendly and advanced future; these motifs are similar to Solarpunk and Cyberprep. Frutiger Eco is separated from these aesthetics as it more falls in-line with the visuals and history and of Frutiger Aero. Frutiger Eco's name comes from its father aesthetic, Frutiger Aero, and the prefix (not used as a prefix in this context) "eco", meaning ecology or the environment.

Helvetica Aqua Aero[]

Main article: Helvetica Aqua Aero

Helvetica Aqua Aero (also known as Frutiger Aqua, Aquacore, Low Frutiger, or simply Helvetica Aqua) is a Frutiger Aero and Y2K sub-aesthetic characterized by its use of imagery related to the sea, the ocean and beaches. Common imagery includes aquatic life, bubbles, water, aquatic colors and other key elements of the ocean. Helvetica Aqua combines this with shared elements of Y2K and Frutiger Aero such as gloss, futurism, 3D rendered objects, Early-2000s imagery, and gradients. Due to this, it is considered the halfway point between Y2K (1997-2004) and Frutiger Aero (2004-2013).

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 era and maintained its popularity into the Early-2010s.

Dark Aero[]

Main article: Dark Aero

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 modern tech such as smartphones, computers, TVs, cars, etc.

Technozen[]

Main article: Technozen

Technozen (also known as Techno Kawaii Zen, or alternatively Yuki) is an aesthetic primarily inspired by the aesthetics of Mid/Late-2000s Japanese technology. It can be described as cold, sterile, and professional looking, and at the same time, cozy, friendly, and cute. It is the Japanese counterpart of Frutiger Aero and it is described as a sub-aesthetic of it; however, Technozen is largely evocative of Asian design while Frutiger Aero is more global. Technozen was also popular in the realm of music, examples including the Wii Main Menu Music (2006) and Golden Sky by Jan Cyrka (2008) featured in the "A Day Made of Glass" videos.

Four Colors[]

Main article: Four Colors

Four Colors was a frequently used color scheme found in consumer products and consumer technology during the Mid-2000s to the Early-2010s, first primarily seen around 2004 as a part of Apple's iPod "Silhouette" advertising campaign. It is a subgenre of Superflat Pop and Frutiger Aero and prominently consists of the colors electric lime, sky blue, hot pink and neon orange. Four Colors is popular in Japan with stores and brands such as Daiso, Sony and Fujifilm. Four Colors' color palette is also noted as being a reference to the colors of different seasons in Japan, specifically: Pink = Spring, Green = Summer, Orange = Autumn, and Blue = Winter.

DORFic[]

Main article: DORFic

DORFic (also known as Sunshine Polypunk or PolySunk) is an aesthetic featuring Abstract Tech-esque minimalist imagery that was popular from the Mid/Late-2000s to the Mid-2010s. DORFic is an acronym for daylight, orange, futurism, and the last 4 letters of the word "graphic" (simplified to "Fic"). This aesthetic is a subgenre of Frutiger Aero, Abstract Tech, and can be compared to Stecffism (Frutiger Eco subgenre) due to their shared element of being corporate.

Vectorgarden[]

Main article: Vectorgarden

Vectorgarden (formerly known as Floral Metro) is a subgenre of Vectorflourish, Frutiger Aero, and Frutiger Metro. It is characterized by minimalist abstract flourish patterns, flowers, auroras, butterflies, bubbles, as well by the heavy use of gradients, transparent, and glossy textures. Vectorgarden was popular between the Mid-2000s and Early-2010s, sharing a lot of overlap with Frutiger Aero since they share many of their visual motifs such as humanism, nature, auroras, and glossy textures.

Related Aesthetics[]

Bright Tertiaries[]

Main article: Bright Tertiaries

Bright Tertiaries is a broad aesthetic, graphic design style and interior design style originating in the Mid-2000s alongside contemporary and visually similar aesthetics such as Frutiger Aero, Frutiger Metro, and Four Colors. It was used for several purposes (mostly by corporations), being incredibly popular during its era. It was utilized for interior décor, architecture, graphic design, clothing, consumer electronics, and media. Bright Tertiaries is primarily centered around a tertiary color palette (lime green, fuchsia, orange, and teal). It began to fall out of mainstream use in the early 2010s, design trends experiencing a major shift from Frutiger-esque maximalist designs to Minimalistic philosophies such as Flat Design.

Frutiger Metro[]

Main article: Frutiger Metro

Frutiger Metro (also known as Flat Frutiger Aero, Vector Metro, or Vector Vomit) is a broad aesthetic that encompasses the "Frutiger" vector-based graphic designs of the 2000s. These designs share a lot of similarities with Frutiger Aero and other aesthetics of the time. Unlike Frutiger Aero which contains large amounts of depth and texture, Frutiger Metro is flat. Its name comes from it's cousin-aesthetic, Frutiger Aero, which it bears a heavy resemblance to; the second part of its name, Metro, is derived from the Metro design language created by Microsoft which was utilized in Windows 8 (Frutiger Metro's most prominent appearance). This is similar to Frutiger Aero being named after Windows Aero (featured in Windows 7). Some consider it a sub-aesthetic of Frutiger Aero. However, Frutiger Metro's increasingly broad nature distinguishes it from Frutiger Aero and establishes it as an aesthetic in its own right.

Media[]

Unlike with the Y2K Futurism aesthetic of the Late-1990s and early 2000s, which movies, TV, music, and video games of a science-fiction persuasion were based around, there was less overlap between this aesthetic and popular culture. It was and is mainly a corporate design philosophy. The Hexatron aesthetic, with its focus on dark surfaces, UI and the huge emphasis on blue color, eventually edged out Frutiger Aero to become more popular.

Television[]

  • One Life to Live (1968-present) (2007-2014 episodes only)
  • All My Children (1970-present) (2007-2014 episodes only)
  • Teletubbies (1997-2001)
  • Make Way for Noddy (2002-2006)
  • Boohbah (2003-2006)
  • Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)
  • LazyTown (2004-2007)
  • Johnny Test (2005-2014) (2021-2022 episodes only)
  • Robotboy (2005-2008)
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006-2016)
  • Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! (2006-2010)
  • Cartoon Network Summer (2006)
  • iCarly (2007-2012)
  • A.N.T. Farm (2011-2014)
  • Phineas and Ferb (2007-2015)
  • The Fresh Beat Band (2009-2013)
  • Fishtronaut (2009-2015)
  • Fantasy Island (2011)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
  • Bubble Guppies (2011-2023)
  • Sam & Cat (2013-2014)
  • Newbie and the Disasternauts (2013)
  • Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures (2013-2015)

Film[]

  • Robots (2005)
  • Click (2006)
  • Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)
  • Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  • Bee Movie (2007)
  • CJ7 (2008)
  • Wall-E (2008)
  • Astro Boy (2009)
  • Avatar (2009)
  • Despicable Me (2010)
  • Mars Needs Moms (2011)
  • Cars 2 (2011)
  • The Lorax (2012)
  • Tomorrowland (2015)
  • Passengers (2016)
  • Free Guy (2021)
  • Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
  • Elemental (2023)

Tabletop Games[]

  • Ark Nova (2021)

Video Games[]

Because of its bright and minimal design, Frutiger Aero was heavily used in casual play videogames such as Wii Play and Purble Place. Portal, Mirror's Edge, Spore, and The Sims 2 & 3 are notable and popular examples of the aesthetic in the AAA gaming world (the latter three being published by Electronic Arts). Engines like Unreal Engine (used in Mirror's Edge) and the Source Engine (used to create Half-Life 2, Portal, Garry's Mod, TF2 etc.) frequently employed design elements similar to Frutiger Aero.

  • Wolfenstein 3D & Spear of Destiny (1992-1993, precursor)
  • WeeWorld (2000-2017)
  • Final Fantasy X (2001)
  • Kingdom Hearts series (2002-present)
  • WarioWare series (2003-present)
  • Lumines series (2004-2018)
  • Electroplankton (2005)
  • Perfect Dark Zero (2005)
  • Nintendogs (2005-2011)
  • Full Auto 2: Battlelines (2006)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
  • "Wii" Series (2006-2014)
  • Opoona (2007)
  • Purble Place (2007)
  • Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 (2007 & 2010)
  • Portal 1 & 2 (2007 & 2011)
  • The World Ends With You (2007)
  • Emergency Heroes (2008)
  • Mario Kart Wii (2008)
  • Mirror's Edge (2008)
  • My Aquarium (2008)
  • Playstation Home (2008)
  • Spore (2008)
  • .detuned (2009)
  • EyePet (2009)
  • Flower (2009)
  • Plants vs. Zombies (2009)
  • Minecraft (2009)
  • The Sims 3 (2009)
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)
  • Final Fantasy XIII subseries (2009-2013)
  • LittleBigPlanet series (2009-present)
  • Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA (2009-present)
  • Aerox (2010)
  • Art of Balance (2010)
  • Blur (2010)
  • Create (2010)
  • Fate/EXTRA (2010)
  • Sonic Colors (2010)
  • Tumble (2010)
  • Kinectimals (2010)
  • Kinect Adventures! (2010)
  • Kinect Sports (2010-2011)
  • Anno 2070 (2011)
  • Child of Eden (2011)
  • MarioKart 7 (2011)
  • Dance Dance Revolution (2011)
  • Gacha series (2012-present)
  • Binary Domain (2012)
  • Journey (2012)
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)
  • Robotics;Notes (2012)
  • Welcome Park (2012)
  • Pikmin 3 (2013)
  • SimCity (2013)
  • Subnautica (2014)
  • Anno 2205 (2015)
  • Mirror's Edge Catalyst (2016)
  • P.A.M.E.L.A. (2020)
  • Pikmin 3 Deluxe (2020)
  • Project MyWorld (Cancelled)
  • WeFly (Cancelled)
  • Dreamsettler (TBA)

Websites[]

Webfiction[]

Elements of Frutiger Aero are scattered around internet fiction, too. For example, the Zoeific Biopolity from Orion's Arm does not have one aesthetic, given that many trillions of people live in it, but its logo could be considered Frutiger Aero. It is somewhat an authoritarian surveillance capitalist empire based on environmentalism and 2000s-era right-wingers, but is generally portrayed as good in the setting.

Another example is Homestuck's Jade Harley, a character who likes nature and technology, similar to Frutiger Aero's core philosophy.

Technology[]

This aesthetic was used in the technology and visual design of the time and is often associated with iOS 1 to 6 and the early days of Web 2.0.

  • Game Boy Advance (2001-2008)
  • PlayStation Portable (2004-2011)
  • Xbox 360 (2005-2013)
  • Gizmondo (2005-2006)
  • Nintendo DS (2004-2014)
  • Nintendo DS Lite (2006)
  • PlayStation 3 (2006-2017)
  • Wii (2006-2017)
  • Intel-based iMac (2006-2020)
  • Windows Vista (2007-2017)
  • Windows Mobile 6.0-6.5 (2007-2009)
  • LG Smart TV “NetCast” operating system (2007-2014)
  • iOS 1-6 (2007-2014)
  • iPhone 1 - iPhone 5 (2007-2012)
  • Mac OS X 10.5-10.9 (2007-2013)
  • PlayStation 2 Super Slim models (2008-2013)
  • Leapfrog Didj (2008-2010)
  • Nintendo DSi (2008-2010)
  • Samsung Smart TV “Orsay” operating system (2008-2012)
  • Android 1.0-4.4 (2008-2013)
  • Zeebo (2009-2011)
  • Windows 7 (2009-2020)
  • Samsung Galaxy S (2010)
  • PlayStation Vita (2011-2019)
  • Nintendo 3DS (2011-2020)
  • Samsung Galaxy S II-Note (2011)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III-Note II (2012)
  • Wii U (2012-2017)
  • Samsung Galaxy S4-Note 3 (2013)

Miscellaneous[]

  • Water computer mice
  • iDog (2005 - 2009)
  • Toyota RiN Concept (2007)
  • U.B. Funkeys (2007 - 2010)
  • BMW Vision EfficientDynamics (2008)
  • RoomTech Beingz (2008 - 2009)
  • Nissan Townpod (2010)
  • Toyota FT-CH Concept (2010)
  • Daihatsu Pico Concept (2011)
  • Toyota Fun-Vii Concept (2012)
  • Droid Razr M XT907 wallpapers (2014)

Music[]

See also: Technozen (Music)

It can be difficult to discern what type of music falls under the Frutiger Aero category and is ultimately up to interpretation. Examples of sounds and music that could be considered to be part of the genre show up all over advertising and media from 2004-2013. Take note of the sounds used in games, movies and television shows of the time like the classic iPhone ringtone and the Wii Menu Theme. The Wii Menu Theme in particular can fall under the Technozen subgenre. The sounds present in 2004-2013 pop culture as well as modern examples of Frutiger Aero adjacent music include marimbas, piano, violins, chimes, synths, samples, distortion, speed and pitch changes (nightcore & daycore), bitcrush, MIDI and heavy bass. Genres like Vaporwave, Trance, Techno, EDM, Ambient, Synthpop, Electroclash, Digital Hardcore, Hyperpop, Bubblegum Bass, PC Music, Vocaloid, Utopian Virtual, Seapunk, Cloud Rap, Jungle, DnB, and Breakcore all have songs that resonate sonically with Frutiger Aero's aesthetic. The use of airy pads, gentle synths, soft new age vocals and electro/IDM palettes was seen in the mid 00s wave of Downtempo as more producers moved from hardware to purely digital software production, giving it a cleaner brighter digital sound.

The resurgence in Frutiger Aero's popularity in the Early-2020s led many musical artists to release work inspired by the aesthetic. Most of these albums fall under one of the genres listed above.

Artists[]

Albums[]

Songs & Singles[]

Soundtracks[]

Music Videos[]

Miscellaneous[]

Playlists[]

Gallery[]

Resources[]

External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetic:

References[]

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