The Mars Challenge: Nils Ferber’s Infinity Scale

We have recently opened submissions for The Challenge – Design to De-stress in conjunction with the upcoming Frame #119 Nov/Dec issue. Each Challenge addresses a different topical issue, which we ask designers to respond to.

The Challenge series in Frame magazine began in our #114 Jan/Feb issue this year, under the section called Talents. Inspired by Elon Musk’s plans for space colonization, we asked five young designers to create an essential travel item for a trip to Mars. Nils Ferber was one of them.

What should we know about you?
NILS FERBER: I grew up in Germany and did my Bachelor studies in Hamburg and Eindhoven. After that, I worked for Kram/Weisshaar in Munich before enrolling for my Master studies at ÉCAL, where I graduated with a collapsible wind turbine that allows you to charge USB devices in remote regions. In a way, this project is a synopsis of my previous projects and interests: I draw a lot of inspiration from technology, sports and challenging environments.

What’s the story behind your Mars concept?
The Infinity Scale is a conceptual instrument that allows you to keep track of passing time and thoughts while you are hovering through endless space. Rather than telling the exact time and spatial position, it gives you a sense of progress through your journey and visualizes the trail of events and experiences that you’ve left behind.

You’ve designed something for the journey, and not for life on Mars itself…
While exploring the surface of Mars would be somewhat similar to the challenging conditions in Antarctica (or a similarly hostile environment on Earth), what really fascinated me was the idea of travelling such incredible distances through deep, empty space. Each traveller would just be a tiny dot, completely detached from everything else.

And it’s this feeling that inspired the Infinity Scale?
Exactly. It’s about living in a tiny spaceship, travelling millions and millions of kilometres with no safety net nor possibility to turn back. I think that after a while you would probably lose all sense of time and space and really feel the solitude.

Were you interested in space travel as a kid?
Are you telling me that some people were not?

So you approached this project differently than one for use on Earth?
Of course. A flight to Mars would be extremely expensive, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. At the same time, you wouldn’t be able to take many personal possessions with you – everything that goes into the spaceship has to be of greatest value.

Apart from space travel, what demands do you think confront the designers of tomorrow?
I don’t think our role will change very much in the future. We’ll continue to curate possibilities and try to find clever and aesthetically pleasing solutions. It is the possibilities that will change and evolve, while the outcomes will no longer be defined by classic product typologies. Keeping track of all these diverse developments and viewing them with a critical eye – that might be the biggest challenge for a designer.

nilsferber.de

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More from this issue

Frame 114

Frame 114

The Jan/Feb issue of Frame explores the most ground-breaking environments for learning, from offices structured like college campuses to hospitality venues that double as libraries. The Jan/Feb issue of Frame explores the most ground-breaking environments for learning, from offices structured like college campuses to hospitality venues that double as libraries. The Jan/Feb issue of Frame explores the most ground-breaking environments for learning, from offices structured like college campuses to hospitality venues that double as libraries.

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Frame 114

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