30,000 petals close to each other form an armchair. This furniture can’t be real, it was said when the first pictures appeared. It was originally just a part of the Hortensia virtual furniture collection by designers Júlia Esqué and Andrés Reisinger from Barcelona. Buyers can integrate it into virtual worlds. But then came requests for real chairs. Esqué and Reisinger are now collaborating with Dutch interior design studio Moooi. Modern laser technology makes it possible to produce flower petals from fabric.
The example shows that objects that are based on reality appear in virtual worlds and computer games. But it also works the other way around. An extreme case is Richard Garriott. The inventor of the “Ultima” series, one of the pioneers of computer fantasy games, built the complex of buildings Britannia Manor in the 1980s – with traps and secret passages just like in his fantasy worlds.
The Reisinger armchair shows that it is even closer to the common needs of people. The designer sees tables, chairs and sofas more as part of a social code: “I don’t know how Metaverse will affect habits, but I think it will change such social codes.”
Metaverse is a kind of three-dimensional Internet, a world in which you can immerse yourself with the help of special glasses. There you can explore digital spaces, meet other people, but also shop. The boundaries are blurring more and more – even when it comes to interior design preferences.
Everything will be a little crazier
Sebastian Klöß, Head of Consumer Technology and AR/VR at digital association Bitkom, explains that these are still isolated cases, but more efforts are being made to recreate ideal lifestyles in virtual worlds: “It’s different with fashion, where transfer of virtual reality models are already very strong.”
This industry in particular also uses Metaverse as a template for their stores. This spring, Benetton used the design of its Metaverse online store as a model for its store on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan – and designed the store in pink. “We are creating the same emotional ecosystem in physical retail as is available in the Metaverse virtual store,” said CEO Massimo Renon.
Last year, the luxury brand Louis Vuitton, otherwise known for its elegant look, designed its showroom in Japan with bright and playful colors. Loud colors and color combinations are a feature of Metaverse’s design, says interior designer Karsten Ermann: “I can imagine that more colors and more unusual color combinations will also be used in our homes during the development of Metaverse” .
What role does copyright play?
“Mars House,” a digital building by artist Krista Kim, which found a buyer for about US$500,000, will be on display at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence until July 31. If an exhibition visitor wants to transfer the concept to reality, companies are already available.
It’s not always like that. If you see a piece of furniture in a computer game that you like, you usually must have made it specifically. It could be a chair or tapestry from a fantasy or sci-fi epic, a modern kitchen from The Sims, a garden, or even a specific architectural form.
However, here the consumer may encounter legal obstacles. As long as you make objects for yourself, there are no legal problems, says Christian Wenzler, general manager of the Bavarian carpentry trade association in Munich: “As soon as a company does this commercially, copyright becomes a problem. ” He advises to clarify in advance. Otherwise, he recommends that members of his association reject customer requests.
In fact, copies are only a temporary solution. Because the next generations of virtual and augmented reality glasses (VR and AR) allow other approaches. A virtual chair is no longer repeated as with Moooi. “Instead, there is a simple chair in the room on which a design is projected,” predicts Bitkom expert Klöß.
Theoretically, it would even be possible to represent only walls and doors virtually
The same goes for cabinets, tables and other furniture. “With the glasses, for example, everyone in the family can determine for themselves where and in what size which picture is hanging on the wall,” says Klöß. In combination with a smart watch or a fitness tracker, wall colors and lighting can also be individual and have a calming or stimulating effect depending on the situation. Theoretically, it would even be possible to represent only walls and doors virtually. “But I don’t know how opaque they would actually be,” says Klöß.
Greg Madison went one step further. He is a designer at Unity Technologies, a company that, among other things, has developed a programming platform for computer games. He turned his apartment into a computer game. If he puts on his VR glasses, the little aliens attack. He can dodge them with different weapons. For example, arrows get stuck in the window frame, aliens seek cover behind pieces of furniture. Then Greg Madison’s apartment becomes a battlefield.