“Wait, What?”: Our Team Discusses the Droste Effect

Last week, in our "Wait, what?" session, we dived into the Droste effect, thanks to one of our designers, Nor Mira Canales, who wanted to explore the topic.


Why is it that when you learn a big word, you start to see it everywhere, and wonder why you hadn’t ever noticed it before? Have you ever thought about what the future of wild animals is, or had a frightening realisation about the possibility of mind-hacking?

Sometimes, these topics come up, in articles online or in conversation with friends, but what if you could talk about them to your work colleagues? It would only be possible if the people you worked with were a group of future-focused individuals not scared of nerding out, hard.

If you hadn’t guessed it yet, at WNDYR, we are those people. Every week, on a Thursday afternoon, our team gets together in our virtual “Wait, what?” sessions to talk about something that interests us, or at least something that interests the chosen speaker enough to talk about it to the rest of the team. There aren’t really any limits to what we can talk about, and everyone on the team is welcome to present, although our Marketing Analyst Annalena Morris leads the calls most of the time.

Last week, we dived into the Droste effect, thanks to one of our designers, Nor Mira Canales, who wanted to explore the topic. Named after a famous image on a Dutch brand of cocoa, the Droste is a design within a design within a design, going on into infinity.

The Droste brand, which named the effect, is an image of a woman holding a tray with a tin of cocoa that has a picture of a woman holding a tin of cocoa, who is also holding a picture of a tin of cocoa with a woman holding a tin of cocoa and so on. In theory then, the image goes on forever, and never ends.

M.C. Escher is the artist who made this kind of infinitive visual loop famous, with his most well-known pieces etchings of staircases that go on forever in the same picture. The history of this kind of visual effect goes way back though, with early renaissance paintings including the same effect, and of course, the famous Pink Floyd album cover.

Looking at these, it seems that we’ve been thinking about the possibility of spaces beyond spaces for a very long time, the question of infinity and worlds within worlds a question that would eventually be named when a marketer decided it would be a good idea to put some mind bending imagery on a box of cocoa.

While it’s fascinating to talk about this on a general level, to dig a little deeper, what does this kind of art or design say about world we live in? Is the concept of infinite space just something we will never wrap our heads around, and will intrigue and confuse us forever?

We didn’t manage to find out who the marketing genius was behind the design of the cocoa box either, if anyone has any insight into this, let us know!

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