The task of architects and interior designers has long been to create functional, aesthetically pleasing, and purposeful spaces that captivate and fulfil the needs of those who interact with them.
The past two decades has been transformative for the architecture and interior design industries in the Middle East, which now homes a range of the world’s most ambitious, impressive (and undoubtedly expensive) buildings, structures, and interiors.
Amongst these, the Palace Suite in Abu Dhabi’s Kempinski Emirates Palace features ultra-luxury interiors of abundant gold and is considered to be one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world.
Another, impossible to omit from a list of impressive buildings, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has attracted and wowed many a visitor with its record-breaking design since opening in 2010.
Marking a new chapter for the architecture and design industries, professionals in this space are now beginning to think about how to work in a virtual world. As cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse quickly gain ground, is it time for architects and designers to adapt to this new, virtual world? Some are skeptical, while others are already taking the plunge.
BLAZING THE TRAIL: ROAR
One company leading the curve in this space is the Dubai-based architecture and design studio, Roar.
A strong advocate of the future profitability of the metaverse, Roar founder and creative director, Pallavi Dean, recently purchased two plots of virtual land in Decentraland, a metaverse where users trade the native, MANA cryptocurrency for NTFs to buy land, property, clothing and more.
“The metaverse has been in the making for decades,” she said. “I’m 40, and I grew up playing computer games like Sim City; my kids have been building in Minecraft and Fortnite for years – we just never used the term ‘metaverse’ before.”
Roar’s plots, which cost the equivalent of USD 36,000, will be developed into multi-functional spaces and will consist of a furniture showroom, an art gallery, and a shop.
The company also has plans to launch a business exhibition space which will showcase a experimental hotel of the future.
“The metaverse is clearly a lasting commercial phenomenon, not a passing fad, so we want – and need – to be there,” Pallavi said.
“By launching Roar Meta Space, we’re creating a one-stop-shop to design and develop property in the virtual realm. We’re already in advanced discussions with several clients about really exciting projects.”
A NEW WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES
According to Roar, its new virtual showroom will be located in a desirable location within close vicinity to the digital fashion district which already features brands such as Burberry and Adidas.
Removing the need for engineers as is custom when designing physical spaces, the metaverse offers new opportunities and breaks down the barriers associated with traditional design.
As Pallavi highlights, a key advantage of creating in the metaverse is the removal of safety and budget constraints. These two factors are often large obstacles to creativity in the field of design and architecture, the founder finds.
A modern-day studio, Roar are already accustomed to working in the virtual space and are already using digital technologies to aid design processes.
“Designing with AR and VR is second nature, it’s how we work, and they’re the tools of our trade. Traditionally we would hand the designs to engineers and builders to create a physical space – the metaverse simply cuts out that part of the process,” the founder said.
With other key industry players such as artist Krista Kim and architect Alba de la Fuente, already making themselves seen in this new virtual world, Roar is not alone in this venture.
With technology advancing at a rapid rate, the possibilities for the future of architecture and design in the virtual world are immense.