What colors are futuristic? Is blue a futuristic color?

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Let us examine what colors are futuristic; and why the color blue is often associated with futuristic design and concepts.

What does futuristic mean?

Something futuristic is related to the future, or very modern and advanced. It’s something that we can imagine being relevant in the near- and far future.

A futuristic thing could have been intended or seem to come from some imagined time in the future. Or it could be so modern and advanced in the current time that we expect it to be used in the future as well. Some futuristic things already exist, while others are just concepts and visions.

Most often in our modern time, when we call something futuristic, it has to do with advanced technology. For example, futuristic electric cars, high-tech wearable gadgets, and designs made to look modern even 10-20 years from now.

It’s an important point because what makes a color futuristic is also dependent on technology and what we associate with modern advancements in light sources.

What makes a color look futuristic?

Shanghai fog cyberpunk
Photography by Xingye Jiang (Unsplash)

Colors often have psychological meanings to us. This meaning can come from cultural upbringings, earlier experiences, or just norms about what colors are often associated with a theme or emotion. Some also say that color associations may be biological. For example, our reaction to vivid colors such as pink and blue may have developed via evolution.

So, what makes a color futuristic depends on what former media or visuals we have absorbed and come in contact with.

Why is blue a futuristic color?

Artificial blue light color
Photograph by Alexander Popov (Unsplash)

One of the most common colors used for futuristic design and visuals is blue. Blue has traditionally been used to portray a feeling of trust, cleanliness, security, control, determination, modernity, ambition. 

Blue is also often associated with companies that give off a feeling of high technology, modernism, and security (e.g. IBM, PayPal, HP). And all of those characteristics fit into a futuristic sentiment.

Another reason why blue is considered a futuristic color is because of inventions in modern light sources. In the past, humans didn’t have vivid blue light sources as we do now. Blue is instead associated with modern developments in LED lights and artificial blue light sources.

This means that blue evokes thoughts in us connected to artificial and human technology (which is new and futuristic). All of these associations of technology, artificial inventions, and cleanliness fit well with a futuristic spirit.

Other futuristic colors: Cyberpunk Aesthetic

Cyberpunk futuristic color palette
Photograph by Alexander Popov (Unsplash)

I am personally a big fan of cyberpunk science fiction and aesthetics, which is also often associated with futuristic things.

In cyberpunk aesthetic the futurist color palettes are usually either:

  • Dark background with vividly colorful gradients (blue, pink, red)
  • Light background with white or light blue light sources

Not surprising, the color blue is still prevalent.

In addition, cyberpunk visuals bring in futuristic colors by blending multiple ones. The reason for this is probably, again, that the human capacity to use and produce multi-colored light sources is a very modern invention. Throughout most of human history, we used fires and candles for light sources, and color gradients are the opposite of that.

So another futuristic color palette is to blend vivid colors into gradients.

What about red, green, and purple?

Red, green, and purple/pink can of course also be used in futuristic visuals. The ability of humans to produce such colors at will is also associated with technological advancements, just as with the color blue. They are just not quite as associated with the future as blue is.

Photography examples of futuristic colors

Visual concepts are best shown through examples! So here are a couple of really cool and inspiring futuristic photographs that illustrate what colors and color palettes that can make something look futuristic.

Blue as a futuristic color
Photography by Riku Lu
cyberpunk color palette
Photograph by Max van den Oetelaar

There’s no scenery I love more than megacities from above. With these types of sceneries, I think it’s pretty clear how it’s the artificial lights and colors that make the look.

Futuristic megacity artificial light
Photography by Yuriy Kovalev

Next one is a bit of a different, but it illustrates how white on white can look futuristic as well. (I know there’s an entire argument about if white and black are ”colors” or not, but since this is my blog, I decide. And I decide that white is indeed a color!)

Minimalistic light futuristic interior design
Photography by Rachael Ren

In conclusion

Warm colors, such as yellow, orange, and brown are not futuristic-looking. They remind us of fires and candles. Instead, colder and artificial colors such as blue, purple, pink, and green are futuristic-looking. This is because they remind us of modern technology and inventions in artificial light sources.

If you want to create a futuristic look for your creation, think about what innovations and things didn’t exist in the past, and what will continue to exist in the future. Perhaps it’s unlikely that we’ll be using fires and candles for example, and thus it may be safer to avoid such associations (unless you’re doing some sort of perspective on individuals removed from modern technology).

In combination with modern colors, we may also find elements of minimalism in a futuristic color palette, because minimalism is also associated with cleanliness, control, and advanced technology.

Thanks for reading! Hope this could answer your questions about what colors that look futuristic and why.

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