December 18, 2018

It's beginning to look a lot like spatial

A spaceman flying out of a sea of coloured particles

As usual at this time of year, the design press has been bearing gifts – all kinds of shiny new rebrands, some just launched, others from ‘Best of 2018’ revues. And one thing really stands out: space.

Microsoft's new branding for their Office Suite

Take Microsoft Office's first rebrand for five years. Universally lauded, it made most people immediately look down at the icons on their desktop and go, “Woah, I hadn’t noticed how old they look.” The reason is not because the old icons are especially outdated, it’s because the new ones are just so, well,new.

Or this week’s WPP rebrand. Shimmering, glowing, growing, shifting. Viewed top-down, viewed in perspective. Dynamic. New.

And what does new look like? New is physical. New is distance. New is perspective. Not the awful drop-shadows of the mid 2000s that were everyone’s guilty pleasure, but actual depth. In both cases, you feel you can step inside. Dive in. Microsoft even constructed the icons physically before they created the digital assets, and the result preserves their genuine third dimension.

The reason for this, I’d suggest, is because they are both being heavily influenced by spatial design. And this is only set to grow.

At a time when immersive technology is offering ever more innovative, exciting ways to engage with the spaces around us, it seems pretty clear that cutting-edge innovation and design is going a bit spatial-mad. Two years afterPokemon GOsent us out into the world to hunt down digital creatures (and a few months before it happens all over again with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite), 2019 is set to be the year of spatial – in gaming but everywhere else too. Museums, galleries, theme parks, events, music festivals, universities, workplaces and many more – all embracing immersive tech and the spatial mindset it requires.

Remember kids, spatial isn’t just for Christmas. It’s here for good.

And we couldn't be happier.

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