How did you get into 3D design?
Gijs: For me, it started during college about 10 years ago on SketchUp, back when 3D rendering, and modelling were some of the latest developments in the design industry.
Bart: It’s kind of a cool story because Gijs was a year senior to me in college, and I was so inspired by his work, and how realistic it was, that I decided I had to pursue it! And now we work together for Aces of Space on this!
What exactly is the difference between 3D rendering and 3D modelling?
Gijs: 3D modelling is more about creating the concept version of the design, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be very realistic. 3D rendering takes that 3D model, and adds in all the details such as the materials, the lighting, etc to make it immersive and super photorealistic.
You’ve been creating experiential AR and VR spaces for Aces projects since 2017, back when it wasn’t even expected and the metaverse was far from mainstream. How did your clients react to being presented with these immersive experiences?
Bart: Pretty excited, even though if we look at the work we do today, those renders don’t seem realistic in comparison, as technology has advanced so much since then, but the clients were always amazed by them. It always helped them to experience any potential space firsthand, long before it was ever constructed, which is always massively helpful as 2D renders don’t allow them to full grasp the full potential of the human experience our team has curated.
What is it about creating these 3D, digital environments for the metaverse that you find most exciting, especially with the capabilities that you have now?
Bart: Well, I think it’s pretty amazing that you can literally make anything you want, be it a villa on the beach, a restaurant in the forest, or a shop in the sky! And you can stand inside, explore it and interact with it – the potential and opportunities it offers, not just from a human experience perspective, but also from a brand experience point of view, is unparalleled. And I love the challenge of creating virtual spaces that are so realistic, that you cannot tell what is real, and what is not anymore, when the virtual becomes reality.
What is the main difference between designing for the metaverse vs. designing for the physical world?
Gijs: That there are no limits. It’s kind of like playing in a sandbox when you were a kid, the possibilities are limitless, and you can literally create a new reality out of your imagination with the kind of software and headsets you have now. And this is just the start of what is going to continue to be, without a doubt, a massive focus not just for the design world, but for every industry out there.
Do you think a virtual space could be as impactful as a physical one? Or do you think there will always be a difference between the two?
Gijs: I think right now, virtual spaces still don’t look fully ‘realistic’ but it’s still early days for the metaverse. But I think, not too long from now, separating the virtual world from real life won’t be as easy. The differences will between the two will only continue to diminish, until you won’t be able to tell one from the other.
You created some fantastical virtual meeting rooms for Handpicked’s offices in the Netherlands, tell me about that.
Bart: Yes, it was actually a really fun project because Handpicked has a number of different brands underneath its umbrella as we were commissioned to come up with virtual meeting rooms for each of the brands, that weren’t anything like your typical meeting room. So, we created these immersive spaces where their teams could meet virtually via VR goggles that were inspired by each brand’s identity. You had a Charlie and The Chocolate Factory room, a spaceship room, a room with fields of sunflowers and lollipops, one with a tiger… It was actually such a full project to work on!
Very cool. And when creating this space did you think about the functionality of it from the perspective of a traditional meeting room?
Bart: Yes and no. There were definitely no chairs or tables because why would you use them when you can sit on a cloud, or a leaf or a floaty? We also incorporated screens into the designs where they could present virtually, for example, and we translated different aspects of their physical office space creatively into the virtual meeting rooms to create a sense of fantastical familiarity.
Alright, one last question: what is the most important thing a designer need to keep in mind when designing virtual architecture?
Gijs: As of now, the polygons, which essentially are the “pixels” of the 3D world which can be a bit limiting to work with as the more polygons you have, the more realistic and details a 3D model is. But with the current VR headsets, you need to keep a stable 90 frames per second to create a smooth virtual experience, which typically means you might be limited with how many polygons you can actually integrate into your design. If you go overboard, the image is going to flicker, and can cause dizziness or even motion sickness – hence the restriction. But I’m looking forward to seeing how this will change in the future!
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