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After conquering the physical world of interior design with numerous award-winning commercial and residential spaces, Roar turned to the metaverse. Led by architect and interior designer Pallavi Dean, the boutique Dubai design firm purchased two plots of land from Decentraland, a browser-based 3D virtual world platform, in February.

Roar Meta Space will operate in this user-owned digital world as a furniture showroom, art gallery, and studio that develops decor solutions for customers in the virtual environment.

We chat with Dean about digital design hacks and the future of architecture:

How can a user interact with a room in the metaverse?

The most common form of metaverse technology in use today is extended reality, or XR, which merges the physical and digital worlds through the headset and connected devices. With extended reality, we can enter virtual worlds and interact with sets of 3D parts.

Will color and lighting still be part of a digital-first design?

Yes, because we are still emotional beings triggered by all things sensory. While my avatar in the metaverse may not care about a particular color, I, as the person behind that avatar, certainly do. But maybe now I can suspend reality and my bedroom can be full of plants in the morning and have a spa-like interior in the afternoon.

What are the design principles of the digital world?

For now, it’s a soft-soft approach. We need to transfer relevant design features to establish an emotional connection between the physical world and the metaverse while we are still learning about the needs and wants of users in this new sphere of life.

But, certainly, we now have the possibility of creating a new type of architecture: even if at the moment we are creating typologies of buildings that already exist in the physical world. In the years to come, as more of us use space, we will become more confident, adventurous and adept at changing technology.

Can the architecture be less restrictive in the metaverse?

Absoutely. The beauty of the Metaverse is that currently accepted design and architectural standards need not apply. In the physical world, cultural traditions aside, we often have design parameters in place due to safety regulations or what is actually possible in terms of engineering. In the metaverse, until a governing body is in place, there are no such challenges – other than our imagination and the design budget a client may commit to a project.

The studio plans to operate a furniture showroom and art gallery in the metaverse.

Can people take inspiration from a furniture studio in the Metaverse?

For creative people, inspiration is all around us – just open your eyes and mind, then connect the dots. We are already seeing elements of crossovers, like Andres Reisinger who recently designed a chair as an NFT and then produced it as a physical piece of furniture.

What is the endgame for Roar Meta Space?

Our initial plan is to develop the plots into a multifunctional building – at the junction between retail and hospitality – which will include an art gallery, furniture store as well as event space and a hotel. We want it to become a one-stop source for people to exhibit and buy NFTs, host their conferences and meetings, and hang out after a drink at the bar.

Pallavi Dean is an award-winning architect and interior designer, born in Sharjah.

Updated: February 17, 2022, 1:17 p.m.

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