Surrealist Dreamscapes Fill This Digital Designer's Instagram Feed

Barcelona–based Simon Kaempfer renders transcendental scenes that transport viewers to an alternative reality.

@kaeptive, 38,000 followers

German multidisciplinary designer Simon Kaempfer’s hyperreal digital environments are a reprieve from the mundanity of life during quarantine. “I always imagine it as some kind of alternative reality where you can escape everything,” he says from his current home in Barcelona. “It’s very pleasing and relaxing to create these colorful, surreal dreamscapes.” The 25-year-old, who specializes in illustration and animation, elicits that type of response by rendering euphoric scenes filled with airbrushed colors and soft textures, equal parts familiar and fantastical. Take his Hidden Places series, a collection of minimalist pastel spaces inside a fictional vacation getaway that appears as if architect John Pawson designed Barbie’s Dream House. In Sea Shack, Kaempfer envisions a beachside escape where palm trees sprout from the ocean and the line between nature and home dissipates.

Kaempfer studied graphic design and taught himself 3D motion design in the evening after class, eventually putting his self-taught skills to use as an intern at the Copenhagen design firm Frame, before landing an in-house role at the experimental Spanish studio Six N. Five. He’s since struck out on his own, launching Kaeptive, where his ability to immerse viewers in surrealist landscapes has earned him commissions from the likes of the New York Times. Currently, he’s working on a poster series that will appear in various exhibitions around the world. It features many of the elements he loves to work with: pools, tropical plants, and muted tones. “I try to distract the viewer from their everyday stress, even if it’s only for a few seconds,” he says. “I don’t just want to create beautiful illustrations—I also want to trigger different emotions in the observer.”

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