Much has been made of nostalgia, craftsmanship, childlike expression, and analogue texture in this trend report. Many of these intertwined ideas emerge as a reaction: rebellion against perfection, in favor of something more raw, more human. But curiosity and imagination are equally human traits, and on the other end of the spectrum we’re seeing digital artists using the medium to render imaginary worlds and objects with increased sophistication.
Movies and games have accelerated 3D animation to a point where hyper-realism doesn’t surprise us anymore. The gap between capturing and creating reality is a very narrow one, and discerning the physical from the digital can require a second or third assessment. ‘Phygital’ emerges as a term to describe this hybrid state.
It’s a very useful development for product designers and architects, who can prototype and visualise their projects with less time and effort. They can iterate, play, and experiment much easier with pixels than clay or cardboard. In their final form, products can be located in any environment, real or imagined, without travel or studio expenses. Beyond mock-ups, digital-only furniture, fashion and beauty collections – made for our virtual identities – are becoming popular on Instagram.
The environment stands to benefit in the long term, as less manufactured material ends up in the world. We might even think of digital product generation as an expression of the reduce, reuse, recycle trend. Eco-conscious consumers are increasingly questioning whether they need physical products. The digital realm and its limitless restrictions is therefore becoming a space for excess and maximalist aesthetics.
It’s not just the cost-saving that makes these simulated environments appealing to brands. Operating in a realm of pure imagination speaks to endless possibilities, and a sense of dissatisfaction with the familiar. Brands with a particularly bold vision – those most excited by the future – would naturally gravitate here.
In terms of specific trends within this field, we’re seeing another overlap with our report on grounded tones. Though complex and surreal in their forms, they are frequently rendered in natural, subdued, subtly textured hues. In the same way that sanctuary whites provide some refuge from chaos, the pervading phygital aesthetic is defined by serene pastels and soft tones to inspire feelings of calm and escape from real-world noise.
Existence itself is becoming more phygital every day. Brands and designers drawn towards this style are invariably the ones who are most interested in defining this brave new world.
Thankfully, you don’t need a working knowledge of the latest 3D software to jump onto this trend. Within our extensive library of graphics, we have plenty phygital objects (and even fonts) that you can add to your canvas with a gentle tap. Try combining some of these to create your own surreal world.
If you want to start integrating these 3D objects with other design elements, it’s worth getting to grips with the mask tool in Over. This will help you create the illusion of depth in your scene. Subtly adding shadows to your objects can enhance a sense of weight and physicality.
Give it a go, it’s super easy. Here are some examples to inspire your exploration