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Is colour making a comeback?

May 18, 2021 by Megan Carnegie

"The back of our computer looks better than the front of the other guys. It looks like it’s from another planet. A good planet. A planet with better designers." - Steve Jobs

Cast your minds back to the iMac G3, a design icon that helped bring Apple back from the brink of ruin. Launched in 1998 to a sea of greige competitors, it had a translucent plastic design with a Bondi Blue back, front panels and mouse. It later expanded to a choice of shades including Strawberry, Tangerine and Grape. Somehow managing to be both retro and futuristic.

An early Blackberry model. Photo by Alejandro Mendoza

But the end of the millennium provoked a rethink on aesthetics, with the hardware focus moving to lightness and slick angles. Designers designed by taking away and cancelling out - bubblegum colours were washed out in favour of black and white, while the clout of glossy, matt, textured and tactile surfactant reigned in the early noughties. The iMac G3 was replaced by the ‘anglepoise’ G4 and HDTVs, the iPod, Kindle and Blackberry burst into the decade, a sleek procession of monochrome.

Nintendo Switch. Photo by Sarah Kurfess

The aughts featured a smattering of colourful hardware - the neon blue and red Nintendo Switch and ubiquity of rose-gold smartphones for example, not to mention niche favorite Teenage Engineering’s rich-tinted range. However, the biggest shift feels much more recent, with Apple launching its 24-inch iMac - in seven vibrant shades - in April of this year. Could this be a renaissance for brightly-hued hardware? WGSN thinks so. Its latest colour forecast predicts digital lavender, luscious red, tranquil blue, sundial yellow and verdigris - all of which were chosen for “a world that will be waking up and adjusting after a long period of uncertainty”. As we find our feet, WGSN says, “these colours will connect to feelings of optimism, hope, stability and balance”.

Nolii's colourful Set Battery

For many, optimism is still a dot on the horizon. In China, where the pandemic is largely under control, people are embracing joyful maximalism in what they wear and purchase. Slowly, slowly, the US and UK are echoing this too. Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen’s mood enhancement theory - when you dress to optimise the way you feel - is playing out as people return to what makes them happy, putting their best foot forward as they do so. Here at Nolii, we love the idea of mood enhancement tech, and as we emerge from the constraints of the pandemic, only hope the resurgence of colour gets bigger, better and brighter.

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