If we divide GNOME 3 in Gnome-Shell and Gnome-Gtk (Apps/Tools); on one hand we have the strong visual personality of Shell and on the other side, a total neutral look of Gtk Apps that pass by unnoticeable.
Do neutral /common designs fit to everyone?
Different isn’t Good or Bad, is just Different
I am using GNOME3 since day one but I still cannot recognize an application if is a GNOME App with a quick look.
Windows XP had one of the very best theme ever created (for its time). The strong blue bars with the large and high contrast controls managed with a magic way to be acceptable and welcome from the majority of -hundred of millions- users. You just need 1/25 of the second to recognize a Windows XP app.
Ubuntu with Brown /Orange colors and that weird default wallpaper certainly don’t win positive comments. However it still manages to succeed an unique and easy recognizable look.
Mac OSX is Apple ..and that’s enough! Even some very specif Linux tutorials (web-services programming) are written in Mac OSX applications in the official documentation from their authors ..what for? Apple keeps a discreet theme but is just Apple..
GNOME3 makes excessive use of a light grey that pass by unattended and without being ugly isn’t either attractive. In a few words it just has not a personality. For the class of the GNOME designers and the level of the project, GTK Apps look poor (visually).
The point is that bad or good, GNOME3 needs to be different. Neutral is something that none likes, none bothers.
Selection Toolbars in GNOME 3.8
From GNOME 3.6 and beyond designers are trying to give some personality to GNOME. That is easy to understand by looking the mockups that without going to extreme, they make some more use of colors and lines that will give GNOME Apps some “noise”.
From mockups to action, in GNOME 3.8 will get some colorful selections:
Focus on Documents
Focus on Boxes
Work has made by Lapo Calamandrei (bug #690627) which has done more cool stuffs for GNOME, not yet landed.