Technological advances are taking home design in exciting new directions.
Have you ever selected a shade of paint, applied it to the wall and discovered it was awful?
Or bought a piece of furniture which you carefully measured so you knew it would fit, and discovered that while the physical dimensions were fine, the scale of the piece was all wrong?
Expensive mistakes like these are set to become a thing of the past, thanks to clever technology that allows us to “see” our rooms in 360 degrees, using virtual or augmented reality.
And it’s not just interior design that is set to benefit. Renovators and architects will use the technology so you “see” what your new room will look like, along with sight-lines and the availability of natural light, before a brick has been laid.
Design champion David Alhadeff, founder of Future Perfect, a gallery-cum-shop in New York City, says virtual reality (VR) is a valuable tool to help designers and architects communicate with clients.
“What can be easier to approve than to see materials, lighting and furniture within the context of the future residential or commercial project? I know this is already at play, but it’s currently very expensive and time consuming. In the future I expect this will be increasingly accessible.”
Interior decorators are particularly excited about the uses of virtual reality. Imagine your designer handing you a headset and then walking you through the room they have created, or explaining an architectural structure by actually being beside it. Imagine testing hundreds of wallpaper designs, pieces of furniture or floor surfaces at the click of a button.
Cost and the size of computers needed to exploit VR technology are a hitch at present, but this will change. Until virtual reality catches on at home, it will be up to brands and institutions to create these in-person experiences.
Global furniture store Ikea is an early adopter. Last year it launched an app, the Idea VR Experience, that allows shoppers to tour different kitchen layouts, opening and closing drawers and seeing the space with different finishes.
Until VR is more generally available, there is the technology’s younger cousin, augmented reality (AR). Where VR simulates total immersion into a virtual world created entirely by software, augmented reality fuses the virtual world and the real world, often by overlaying virtual features on top of actual ones.
AR needs simpler technology than VR – you download an app on your smartphone or tablet – and is being used by designers and stylists.
One such app is called Planner 5D, which has emerged as the leader of mobile home styling apps.
Planner 5D founders wanted an easy tool for their own home design. As a result, their app currently counts more than 18 million people globally who have tried the tool, and more than 100 000 who use it every day.
“We created an app for ourselves to help with our redesign, but then realised that millions of people had the same need for an easy-to-use, customisable tool to create the home of their dreams,” says Alexey Sheremetyev, one of the founders.
“As the app entered the marketplace, we adjusted it to the ever-changing desires of our clientele, offering intuitive design and even a VR option. People who have been using home design apps are now more sophisticated in the art of interior design, and demand customisable features.”
Planner 5D gives its users the possibility of choosing texture, colour and size of all the pieces of furniture used in the design. It also analyses the projects of millions of people, and offers creative ideas for turning what you have into an original, tasteful home.
Users enter their room dimensions into the app to create a floor plan, choose furniture from linked catalogues such as Ikea, and then virtually move the furniture around to see how it will look. One feature allows users to make realistic snapshots of their designs which can be shared.
Planner 5D can be used on a browser, Android and iOS.
Another augmented reality feature is View in My Room 3D, developed for Houzz Labs, a platform for home renovation and design.
It is available on the existing iPhone and iPad app, and will soon be available for Android devices.
Sally Huang, a former developer of The Sims video game in 2000, is leader of visual technologies for Houzz Labs.
She says: “The 3D version allows you to rotate 360 degrees and move items around a room.
“We have more than 300 000 pieces of furniture and decorating products in 3D and we’re adding more all the time. The 3D models have extra texture and look more realistic, so it’s easier for people to see what things look like.”
The View in My room app is integrated with the Houzz site so users can send items to their ideas book or shop for products by clicking on them.
If something more tangible is what you’re after, 3D printing may be a solution. Stylists can print their designs and allow the client to touch and feel their ideas in miniature form.
The 3D printing can also be used to design intricate furniture that machinery is incapable of creating. The France-based design company Ventury creates items from lamps to bar stools, all finely detailed and simply printed. – Home Reporter and Washington Post
● Virtual reality is being showcased this year by the Durban FilmMart at the Togo Sun Elangeni until July 17, and during the 38th Durban International Film Festival until July 23.
For more details see www.durbanfilmmart.com, planner5d.com and www.houzz.com, or Google View In My Room 3D.