The above CNBC headline popped up on my feed last week. Not content with throwing cash into giraffecoin and NFT’s of Elton John’s ankles, the next reported rush is to ‘get in on the ground floor’ of the Metaverse. Is this just the next bubble, or should we get excited?
Facebook, now part of Meta, fired the virtual starting pistol, with Mark Zuckerberg – featuring a lego hairpiece – breaking the world record for the times the word ‘experience’ is used in a presentation. Apparently it’s going to be an amazing experience. And following his commitment to invest $10billion in the Metaverse, he certainly made us look up from our smartphones briefly.
“The digital world, to some, is as important as the real world,” Miami-based real estate broker Oren Alexander tells CNBC. “It’s not about what you and I believe in, but it’s about what the future does….. For example, Snoop Dogg is building a virtual mansion on a plot of land in Sandbox, and someone recently paid $450,000 to be his neighbor.”CNBC
The Metaverse (can we abbreviate that word already… Mvs… Meve… Mtvs?) is a virtual interactive world. Users create avatars, can buy virtual fashion, cars, property, the lot.
As our worlds become increasingly virtual, fuelled by the speed of tech development, and fanned by the impact of Covid – specifically flexible ‘work from anywhere’ policies – our intrigue grows. Our virtual lives will expand at pace.
Developing your own personal avatar is something you can do on your smartphone already. This will be your vessel to explore the Metaverse and is where fashion, accessorising and individuality begins – and tech firms are jostling for position. Musicians and performance artists already offer live virtual performances, awash with sponsorship deals. Nike plans to expand its footprint (ha!) with the acquisition of virtual sneaker firm RTFKT announced in December. Gucci recently created the Gucci Garden and brands Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry and Balmain are also active in the Metaverse. But what does all this mean for furniture and interiors?
If we consider architecture and interiors, there are suddenly fascinating and exciting opportunities opening up for those tech-savvy enough to pursue them. And to be blunt, there’s simply no way globally minded, ambitious interior brands are going to miss out.
Architectural firms already offer fly through animation for projects, allowing clients a virtual ‘experience’ (thanks Zuck) of their planned future investment. Architectural students have been building virtual cities on Fortnite for a few years. And with Covid and climate concerns hitting global business travel, isn’t it time we rethink the international design fair? It’s a matter of time before the first global Metaverse Interiors Show launches.
“But its not the same…”
And that’s the point right? Shake off the rules and restrictions of building, design and construction. In the Metaverse, creative minds run free. There is no architectural heritage officer, Kanye West looks after building control. There are no material costs, or lead times. Tech savvy designers create their dreams, without restraint. Budgets and limitations that make real-world projects cost-prohibitive are flung out of the virtual window with a simple swipe-left.
The design fair of the future will be accessed from anywhere. Once you’ve got your cryptowallet, slapped on your Oculus goggles and kitted out your avatar in the latest Vivienne Westwood feather balaclava, you can embark on a journey of mind-blowing inspiration. You enter a virtual design fair filled with constructions not of this world, and witness interactive interior concepts previously unimaginable. The fashion and interior brands of the world create new untold magic, presenting their new collections in mind-blowing colours and context, leaping out towards you, with design talks from the hottest names and live collaborations with musicians and artists.
Metaverse takes design to the masses; its very existence will fuel the next design boom…
Will Metafair replace the traditional global design fair? Not entirely. Augmented reality allows people to see how virtual furniture can look in a physical space, but people will always need to physically sit on chairs, touch and feel fabrics before signing off an interior project. And the final mockup will still happen in the flesh, via smaller regional fairs, local reseller partners and specialised consultants. But for conceptual design shows, if superfairs don’t get on the Metaverse experience, they will be left behind.
The most common reasons for not going to a physical design fair are cost of travel and accommodation, fitting it in with work and family commitments and (currently) Covid concerns. Metafair eliminates all of these concerns, making design truly accessible to the masses, opening up lucrative new markets. Its very existence will fuel the next multi-disciplinary design boom.
When the first motorcar was unveiled, no-one expected it to signal the end of horses as the primary means of transport. The launch of online shopping for clothes, furniture and groceries took a while to gain traction and find its place, but is now a way of life.
The Metaverse market is currently valued at $100 billion. By 2030 its value is predicted to hit $1,500 billion. In a world where youtubers, pro-gamers and influencers now feature in the rich lists, are you still not convinced?