Calm3: Into the Surreal

Trends / Technology
Alina Nechaeva
Sandra Michalska
May 3, 2023
When more than 6 in 10 people around the world think that the lines between the virtual and real worlds will blur in the future1, we are at the end of reality as we know it. But do we know what this new reality will look like, and how it will make us feel?
There is a lot of hype and hope around Web3 and how it will impact the future of social computing. Whether it’s utopian or dystopian, we know that we’re not there yet. For now, we are somewhere in between, a sort of liminal space2 between physical and digital reality. A moment of transition that gave birth to a specific visual aesthetic that we like to call Calm3. Back in 2016, our team forecasted surrealism3 as one of the main trends for evolving Web 2.0 space. While Web 1.0 aesthetics was closer to chaotic playfulness than surreality, Web3 amplifies what we have seen in 2016, and gives it a fresh, dreamy vibe.
Spatial design, new architectural forms, biomorphic elements, floating still life, inexplicable scenarios. In industries such as automotive, luxury to FMCG, brands like Mercedes Benz4, Valentino5, Cartier6, or Coca‑cola7, are already nodding to these surrealistic references, creating lush, calming atmospheres in their digital visual advertising.

So, what’s the point of bringing calming atmospheres into digital spaces? Technological advances often bring mixed feelings, especially at the transition point we find ourselves in. Our proprietary VisualGPS consumer data shows that peoples’ perspective on technology is fluid, in movement between positive and negative. While nearly 6 in 10 global consumers are excited to see what the future looks like as technology evolves, nearly half are nervous about how heavily the world will rely on technology in the future.

In the past tech companies like Microsoft and Apple referenced nature in their operating systems as welcoming visuals, often approaching screens as windows into a natural world. As the virtual worlds are full of visual promises beyond the rules of physics, surreality can offer playfulness and a portal of what is coming next.
1Getty Images VisualGPS consumer survey across 25 countries in APAC, Europe, UAE, North America, Brazil and LATAM. Base: 7.000 adults aged 18‑65+ years. Survey conducted between 14 July ‑ 22 August 2022.
2Liminal Spaces (Aesthetics Wiki)
3 Getty Images’ Jacqueline Bourke on the visual trends defining 2016 (Stoppress)
4Mercedes Benz (Mercedes Benz Facebook Page)
5Craft : Les 4 tendances de la production film pour 2023 (La Réclame)
6Cartier Watches and Wonders (Cartier)
7Coca cola teams up with DressX for its fantasy‑inspired digital space dreamland (Forbes)

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