Design Trend 2: Infinite Space

By Sarmite Polakova and Audrey Cruchade, designers at Digital Agency Mirabeau.

A series of trends investigating how visual and interaction design patterns will change according to the broader trends in society, technology and the design realm.

What’s going on?

Screens are simultaneously windows and borders.

In architecture glass walls extend the house dimensions to an infinite space. Look at the Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and you will see how the large windows make the indoors blend with the outdoors. It is an extension of a beautiful landscape. Then there are infinity pools, which, for example, give an illusion that you can swim to the horizon. The idea of dissolving borders and edges around elements lets the viewer focus on the whole view rather than separate elements. Glass walls and infinity pools are both prolonging the view on a beautiful landscape by blending with the environment and dissolving the borders and edges.

"The Outside is always an inside" - Le Corbusier

Products inside our houses can also seamlessly blend with their surroundings. The QLED TV from Samsung becomes a part of interior rather than a black screen to be hidden behind a cabinet. The Infinity Display from Samsung enables the physical product to be more transparent.

In a digital approach, the web page is like paper — it frames the content and as a consequence, the digital content adapts to the device screen size. However, the emergence of immersive experiences allowing a 360-degree view redefines the relation between the device and the digital content.

Therefore, just like in architecture and product design, the trend is to move from frames to infinity.

The trend

Let’s consider our screen as a window to a wider world. The screen is not a canvas, but an opening. The device is no longer setting the border of the digital page. Goodbye safe margins!

Some digital content is half appearing from the borders to indicate a broader virtual environment. Consider also the relation between the phone and the physical surroundings. Just like with Pokemon Go and Ikea furniture app, the interfaces blend to eternity with the use of the screen. We believe that soon there will be more interfaces that blend seamlessly with the surroundings.

Inside and off camera

Let’s go on an adventure in a digital immensity. In this infinite space, so much is happening on screen and off camera. You want to explore everything!

Benjamin Leleu Infinite Space (1) Minimizing the area of interest of a very busy presentation screen in order to slice the story into edible pieces of content for the audience. Benjamin Leleu, designer at Mirabeau

The virtual representation is a spatial organization, mapped on 2D or 3D, where elements have a geographic position. The content is the landscape. Imagine some elements are completely hidden and they have to be discovered. Only a part of the content is revealed to give focus. It’s like exploring a dark room with a candle.

Imagine animations and video are playing even though the user isn’t focused on it. Look at 360 Google Doodle back to the Moon on your phone. As in video games, VR and AR, the digital space is not a fixed canvas. The device reveals only a part of the fictive world. It’s like spying through a keyhole.

The spaceship navigation

“To infinity and beyond” - Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story

Thijs Rentier Infinite Space (1) Digital infinity is about the play of the viewport relative to the content. Every folder has it’s own environment, each layer has infinite space available. Clicking on a previous border in the viewport redirects back to a specific previous folder, like a breadcrumb. Based on a concept from Thijs Rentier, designer at Mirabeau

How big is the Internet? How to navigate through a multitude of information and links?

The screen is the window. You can zoom in and out to navigate in the endless levels of data. Going deeper and deeper in the information is like opening a recursive window. In an airplane where the closest emergency door might be behind you, more content or Internet browsing history might be behind you.

The artist Ryoji Ikeda creates spectacular and seemingly infinite vistas through 2D sequences of patterns derived inspired from hard drive errors and studies of software code.

It’s like sitting in the cockpit of a spaceship while jumping to hyperspace or driving in an infinite tunnel. There is a wider world behind the screen.

Read how to turn the content of a screen softer in our Supertactility trend (Design trend 1/5).