Although achievable easily in oils and watercolors, the gradations we see in the natural world around us have always been hard to replicate in production. The first explorations of gradation appeared in print with the invention of half-tone patterns. Not until digital tools arrived in the late 20th century did smooth gradations become achievable, matched by high-quality printing technologies. The growing world of the internet also saw gradations used prominently in website design. Beginning around 2000, gradation started to migrate from print/packaging and digital applications to the physical world. The ombre effect in fashion, in which one color fades into another through use of pigmented dyes, was one of the first applications. Now every product category is exploring this technique. What’s fresh about the most current explorations is how the gradation has reverted to a more posterized effect: stepped gradations of close-value color relationships instead of smooth, digital, perfect fades. In categories where every color has been tried, exploring methods of gradation could help breathe new life into stale palettes. Other variants include gradations of translucency as well as gradations occurring over an array of displayed products rather than entirely on one single product.

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3 Comments to “FRESH GRADATIONS”

  1. Glen says:

    Great! love it.

  2. Alan says:

    What is it about the gradient that just does not work as well as a pure color? This is the standout among your trends for being the one that I would tire of really quickly.

    • AWOLtrends says:

      Its always hard to determine longevity, and you may be right about this one. We’ve used the banded stepped gradation look on a few product concepts in the CE category in the last couple years, and they do currently look very fresh. That’s where your own judgement comes in as a designer: choose which of these stylistic modes align with your tastes, and the constraints of your project. We try to portray all aesthetic themes here in an equal light, and let our users determine which to choose as inspiration.
      -AWOL Trends