Root NationArticlesAnalyticsWhat is Frutiger Aero and why do modern teenagers feel nostalgic about Windows Vista

What is Frutiger Aero and why do modern teenagers feel nostalgic about Windows Vista


Nostalgia is a strange thing. I’m familiar with it not just by hearsay, being quite prone to bouts of nostalgia myself. Especially when it comes to the late nineties and early zeros, when I, like many others, hung out in computer clubs and registered on forums. But those times are long gone. It seemed for a long time that I would mourn the golden years of the internet alone, but that’s not entirely the case – for the past year and a half, I’ve been encountering more and more people who also miss this era of skeuomorphism. The twist is that hardly any of them lived through that era. So what could they be nostalgic about?

The internet is prone to trends, and trends are often linked to nostalgia for a particular visual style—or simply fashion. Recently, the Y2K style was very popular and even influenced modern web design. But having tired of the aesthetics of the nineties, teenagers have moved on, this time drawing inspiration from the glassy buttons of Windows Vista and the icons of early iOS. However, for them, Frutiger Aero is something more. And to find out exactly what, I spoke with today’s youth.

Sony PlayStation Vita

Frutiger Aero

The beginning of the 2000s (more precisely, the period from around 2002 to 2012) is associated with a whole series of visual trends. All these trends are commonly grouped under one “movement” (though it’s difficult to say exactly what it is) called Frutiger Aero. The name itself comes from the Frutiger fonts and the design language of Windows Aero, which formed the basis of Windows Vista. Typically, Frutiger Aero features glassy transparent materials, the aforementioned skeuomorphism, elements of nature, and bright colors. But not only operating system interfaces or website designs can belong to Frutiger Aero. For example, it includes shampoo bottles, dentist offices, or entire shopping centers.

How so? The thing is, there are simply no clear-cut boundaries in the style. After talking to a dozen Frutiger Aero enthusiasts, usually still quite young (14-18 years old), I found out that it’s not about specific rules at all. It’s all about the traditional elements of the style – bright colors, depictions of nature, or even retro-futuristic elements portraying an optimistic future. Optimism is extremely important here – many representatives of Generation Z or even Alpha believe that their “future has been stolen” from them and seek solace in the past when the world was still in order. Modern monotonous logos and flat interfaces are associated with unnecessary corporatism and dullness for them, whereas the convex buttons of Windows Mobile or the Nintendo DS interface represent the complete opposite.

Read also: Why Motorola makes the most romantic smartphones

The Nintendo Store from the late 2000s
byu/takulink inFrutigerAero

It’s fair to ask: “What does nostalgia have to do with any of this?” Perhaps the reason for such interest lies in a combination of factors: the popularity of video compilations on social media, early childhood memories of gaming consoles and computers, and a widespread desire for utopianism. The rejection of everything modern is a common phenomenon among young people who are tired themselves of conventional smartphones or Twitter. Hence, Spacehey emerged – a modern incarnation of the early social network MySpace by young self-taught programmer Anton Reme. Contrary to expectations, active users of the network are still quite young. These same individuals do everything possible to remodel modern computers and smartphones to resemble something from the late 2000s or early 2010s. It has even come to the resurrection of the defunct messenger MSN Messenger (or Windows Live Messenger), which was very popular in the US in the early 2000s. The project is called Escargot and supports nearly all versions of the messenger, including the earliest ones.

Windows Live Messenger
byu/vendettathesixth inFrutigerAero

As a result, Frutiger Aero enthusiasts have truly come together, creating their own platforms for communication.

Forget the era of doomscrolling

Generation Z is already celebrating its 25th anniversary, and many of them are rightfully tired of constant doomscrolling. Even in developed countries, there aren’t many reasons for optimism – recession, wars, and rising costs are everywhere, and the vision of the future is far from Star Trek-like. Many see in Frutiger Aero a salvation from constant melancholy. If you learn to distinguish the features of the style, you begin to see it everywhere. Finding an example of your favorite style in real life (for example, stumbling upon an old mall with illustrations from the early 2000s) is already a reason for joy. And since pleasant associations with childhood (sometimes – someone else’s) are associated with technology, elements of that time can be brought back. Maybe through the nostalgic reskinning of their programs. Or perhaps by buying an old soap dish. The point is not in quality but in aesthetics.

Another possible reason for the popularity of Frutiger Aero is its connection with nature. Starting with the legendary Bliss wallpapers from Windows XP and ending with many other examples, it’s clear that the style is inseparably linked with nature. Green and blue tones, globes, aquariums, and other elements surface here and there, and many young people who are passionate about environmental activism appreciate this.

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This reminds me of childhood
byu/atlaas7 inFrutigerAero

Another reason can also be found in the state of the modern internet. Old-timers like myself often love to talk about how much better everything was in the past – Google found what you were looking for, forums were decentralized, and social networks weren’t toxic. Some remember this time, while others are simply inspired by stories about a freer internet, where self-expression was paramount. Once upon a time, Facebook almost single-handedly killed this era, and now thousands of Frutiger Aero fans strive to return to the days when everyone had their own page, designed in their unique style (see Spacehey), and no one posted their real names and photos. It’s no wonder that social networks are gradually fading into oblivion – people are just tired of them.

On one hand, Frutiger Aero is nothing more than an association with the past, which can’t get any worse, thus already winning over the present and the future. It’s an attempt to return to a specific point in time and stay there. On the other hand, it’s nothing more than nostalgia for a visual style that reminds people of their youth and childhood. And while it’s hard to say whether the enthusiasm for Frutiger Aero will evolve into something more or remain very niche, one thing is certain – its popularity will only continue to grow in the near future.

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