Design, Meet Virtual Reality

Design, Meet Virtual Reality

The Finnish home is taking over the world in a completely new fashion: The Virtual KOTI by the design initiative Design from Finland (‘koti’ meaning home in Finnish) was launched this September. This virtual showroom for Finnish design was born out of a realization: Most of our members who carry the Design from Finland mark offer services or products to homes.

The original KOTI ensemble was a physical collection of Finnish design items at the 2016 Habitare expo, the most notable furniture expo in Finland. During the expo, design people from all over the globe were anxious to get the KOTI ensemble to visit their countries. And since our mission is to take Finnish design everywhere, we started to plan ways to make this happen.

When the idea of a home operated with VR technology came about with Stereoscape, we soon found companies who were more than willing to hand over their 3D product models for the project. This September first users have been able to test the VR home, and next we’re travelling to Tokyo´s IFFT expo to showcase it.

Our Finnish pilot home, built with VR technology, takes the customer experience to new heights. You get to move about in the home, touch, and pick up design items and see how they would look in an actual room. We’re so excited about the possibilities this holds for our members: People all over the globe can soon get our virtual showroom from the VR application shop, Steamshop, and admire Finnish design in their homes.

What VR technology brings to the table

Utilization of virtual reality technology in design is still quite rare. Some fields of design such as architecture have already taken advantage of VR technology quite a lot, but the rest are still playing catch up. Virtual reality and especially augmented reality technology (which is, for most people, best known from Pokémon Go!) are definitely going to change the way we shop for design. Soon, potential customers can glimpse through their smart phones how a design piece would actually look in their own home and which color would suit them best.

The design process, from the prototype to maintenance, will change with virtual technology as well. In a seminar we held about the possibilities of VR for design, Sanni Siltanen, an expert of innovative maintenance methods from KONE, described a situation where a person in charge of maintaining an elevator could see the finished product with VR glasses when the product is, in reality, still at planning stage and could offer insights about e.g. locating the circuits that require regular upkeep. This means saving both money and time in the future.

Siltanen, as well as Sami Heinonen from Netfreak and Jani Leskinen from Stereoscape all agreed that today, VR and AR still attract people because it’s new and fresh. Design companies who use it to market their products seem ahead of their time. Soon, when VR technology becomes as normal as DVD players or home theaters, the situation might change drastically,. But even then, content is king – well-made 3D product models with realistic textures will stand out in a crowd.

The Virtual KOTI by Design from Finland

We’re happy that our virtual KOTI ensemble is one of the first virtual showrooms ever to contain products from several different designers. Altogether 25 designers are involved in KOTI. Like Stereoscape so eloquently put it, “It is a first-ever production to allow an immersive experience with such a large number of products from so many different companies.”

The KOTI, in many ways, is also a showcase of the Finnish design field atmosphere. In our small, resilient country, designers support each other by organizing events together and sharing business contacts and techniques. Finnish people are usually crazy about new gadgets, so it’s no surprise Finnish designers are embracing the revolutionary world of virtual technology.

Danish people might be known for their concept of hygge, but Finnish people love hanging out at their homes (sometimes even in their underwear…) just as much. During our long, dark winter, the warmth of a home brings comfort. So it feels only logical that our first VR pilot depicts a home and a collection of design products, from fire places, sinks, to design sculptures – all meant to be enjoyed at home.