Foresight Analysis: Mind Altering Design

Perception Play

First seen in MIX Magazine, issue 43, Elspeth Gray dissects the increased interest in design that plays with our perceptions, adopting optical illusions to create a pleasantly puzzling dreamland.



Google Inception

Google’s Inceptionism, the generation of extraordinarily trippy images recalling hallucinogenic inspired graphics from the 70’s, has signalled ever more immersive and experiential opportunities that are now attracting a broader audience way beyond serious gamers.




Japanese designer Nendo can take some of the credit for this new interest in mind-altering design. His often-playful designs love to challenge perceptions through clever tricks involving perspective, using colour to create the illusion of 3D stands at a show in Singapore, or more recently at Milan Expo with an extraordinary project for the Japan Pavilion. The large white space was filled with a long black dining table and 24 accompanying black chairs that gradually increased in height, playing with the spectator’s sense of perspective as well as allowing a clear view all the items on display from the gallery entrance.

In a similar vein, Studio Isabell Gatzen has been inspired by the master of mind-altering illustration, M.C. Escher.  Gatzen explains: “Geometric forms and patterns provided a starting point that was built on through playing with reflections and symmetry. We perceive a trend to return back to basic geometric forms.” The collection seeks to play with perceptions of light and weight and embraces hidden details that encourage users to interact with the pieces.



Noa Raviv

And finally, fashion isn’t immune to this new trend either. Noa Raviv’s work echo’s melting Salvador Dali paintings, using grids to warp our view of flat surfaces and 3D printing to create extraordinary shapes that alter and blur the outline of the body. Similarly, Dutch based designer Anouk Van De Sande’s prints aim to make viewers feel dizzy and out of kilter with a nod to pop art effects and visual trickery. She explains: “I’m super in love with the 60’s and 70’s. I love the colour and optical effects. The estrangement, the dazzling effects, the motion in clothes. Inspired by artists like Warhol, Escher and Dali, I like that the print in motion collection almost became digital but is super analogue. I’m fascinated by the way how prints can change the body.”