Forging A Weird Future

I recently became aware of an aesthetic style that's become known as Frutiger Aero, roughly popular from 2004 to 2013. Its name comes from the combination of Windows Aero and the Frutiger font (which was ubiquitous in the corporate world during that era). Basically, it's that shiny-super-computer-generated-but-organic look that things had for a while; if you're imagining a smooth CGI dolphin splashing out of a perfectly rendered water-surface pool with chrome rounded corners against a blue-and-green saturated landscape, you're in the right mental space. Scroll through a few pages of the Frutiger Aero Reddit, if you dare.

For those who move linearly through time like I do, it seems difficult in the moment to know what's a "trend" and what's . . . just the way things are. Like, 20 years ago I probably would've said that stainless-steel-chrome everything was a kitchen trend, but that stuff is still everywhere even now. Conversely, many who remember the puke-green and mustard-yellow of the 1970s can recall that palette's own ubiquity, yet it is now relegated to the shadowy realms of a bygone era.

If you create futuristic tabletop RPG settings or alternate histories, an easy way to establish the future is to make up a design aesthetic and say, "Yep, this is what folks are doing now. In the future." Marine-rescue orange as the predominant color? Computer-user elements that dismiss windows by disintegrating into pixel-dust? Exact cubes as the overriding design decision? Welcome to tomorrow. It may not make sense, but no one asked for Frutiger Aero or mustard yellow; someone just started doing it, and we all went along for the ride.

-- Steven Marsh