The Sky Factory

The Sky Factory

Fairfield, IA


APERTURE: Gridless Biophilic Portal Deepens Open Sky Illusion

By TheSkyFactory
Nov 8, '19 11:44 AM EST

Aperture SkyCeiling © 2019 Sky Factory

Aperture SkyCeiling is a biophilic design application for enclosed interiors.

August 20, 2019 – Aperture, the latest generation in Sky Factory’s line of Luminous SkyCeilings, uniquely modifies our perception of customary planar relationships, boosting the spatial plausibility of interior skies to a new heightened level of illusion.

Aperture generates a potent biophilic illusion by making three unexpected material transitions. First, it removes the grid between image panels. Second, the design introduces a vacant interstice between the frame trim and the image panel (“SkyTile”). And third, the product features a reflective trim side wall within the mechanical periphery of the skylight.

“Together, these structural modifications yield an illusory opening that leads the observer’s ingrained habits of perception to one inescapable conclusion—a perception of open sky whose boundaries remain invisible,” says Skye Witherspoon, Sky Factory’s CEO. “For the first time, we have an illusion that sustains an experience of sky regardless of the angle of view.”

Gridless Illusion

Aperture’s perimeter structure forgoes the familiar support grid, usually positioned between SkyTiles (image panels), in favor of an unobstructed view of the entire circular or elliptical opening. Aperture is available in three circular (3-foot, 4-foot, and 5-foot diameter) and two elliptical (4’ X 6’, 5’ X 8’) sizes.

“The absence of a grid creates ambiguity for the mind as to whether or not a surface (the SkyTile) actually exists, thereby supporting the perception of deep space,” says Bill Witherspoon, Sky Factory’s founder and Creative Director.

The Interstice

Aperture’s innovative design separates the perimeter frame from the non-reflective image panel (“SkyTile”) surface, creating a vacant interstice. (The interstice is the empty space between the actual layers.)

When the sky image (Open Sky Composition) is viewed from any off-center perspective, the interstice appears as a crescent shaped gap on the far side of the perimeter trim. 

However, when viewed standing directly underneath, Aperture’s vacant interstice—subtly visible by virtue of our binocular vision, confounds the viewer’s ability to recognize and locate a precise distance to the non-reflective SkyTile surface. As a result, the sensory information stacks the contextual cues in favor of an alternate—and now more plausible—perception of deep open sky.

In both cases, this spatial ambiguity leads the mind’s perceptual calculus to a credible illusion that, along with the image’s recessive blue hue and other cues, signals an expanse of sky, unbounded in all directions. 

Reflective Trim Side Wall

Aperture’s almost hidden mechanical boundary features a trim side wall that reflects light from the image tile. The reflected light and color prevent the eye from detecting a distinct edge.

The result is a perceived edgelessness to the sky image.

Combined Contextual Cues

Together, the above three attributes create a palpable perception of depth when standing directly beneath the Aperture, as well as a distinct lateral continuum of sky when viewed from all other angles. The result—a visceral illusion of open sky with no discernible boundary.

Aperture is designed to provide the most realistic illusion of open sky in contemporary spaces seeking a high-end multisensory window to incorporate a research-verified biophilic attribute. Metropolitan spaces with limited access to the healing attributes of high altitude skies can now consider a product that can leverage our ingrained habits of perception to create a restorative experience.

Key Features

  • Gridless Luminous SkyTile image floating above a circular trim frame
  • Gridless Luminous Circle—available in 3-foot, 4-foot, and 5-foot diameters
  • Gridless Luminous Ellipse—available in two dimensions: 4’ X 6’ and 5’ X 8’
  • EcoPlus LED backlit lighting system (6500K color temperature)

Key Benefits

  • Generates a dramatic perceived connection to open sky
  • Imbues interiors with the restorative attributes of Biophilia
  • Combine different sizes to create attractive wayfinding and ceiling design solutions
  • Brings daylight-quality artificial light to enclosed interiors