Functionally gradient materials (FGM) have gradual variations in their properties along one or more dimensions due to local compositional or structural distinctions by design. Traditionally, hard materials (e.g., metals, ceramics) are used to design and fabricate FGMs; however, there is increasing interest in polymer-based soft and compliant FGMs mainly because of their potential application in the human environment. Soft FGMs are ideally suitable to manage interfacial problems in dissimilar materials used in many emerging devices and systems for human interaction, such as soft robotics and electronic textiles and beyond. Soft systems are ubiquitous in everyday lives; they are resilient and can easily deform, absorb energy, and adapt to changing environments. Here, the basic design and functional principles of biological FGMs and their manmade counterparts are discussed using representative examples. The remarkable multifunctional properties of natural FGMs resulting from their sophisticated hierarchical structures, built from a relatively limited choice of materials, offer a rich source of new design paradigms and manufacturing strategies for manmade materials and systems for emerging technological needs. Finally, the challenges and potential pathways are highlighted to leverage soft materials' facile processability and unique properties toward functional FGMs.