RMIT Interior Design

Adam Nash, Introduction [×]

The Interior Design Practices course runs parallel to the Partnered Interior Design Studio and provides opportunities for students to refine specific skills and techniques in communication and technologies relevant to contemporary interior design practice. Over the past year we have investigated virtual environments in interior design practice.

In the first semester, we looked at the intrinsic qualities of virtual environments and how these yield, and yield to, new practices of interior design. How is our practice and understanding of interior design changed by virtual environments, and how does interior design change virtual environment design? What are the stakes, what is up for grabs and what is in play for designers working in the virtual? These questions took on a new relevance and urgency with the sudden onset of global virtual work and meetings occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the second semester, we tightened our focus to consider the role of virtual environments in retail spaces. Under the broad title "Immersive Distributed Retail Spaces", we looked at the state of the interaction, or contrast, between online and physical retail spaces right in the midst of the pandemic. Noting that, leading up to the pandemic, retail design had been moving towards 'experiential retail' for a physically immersive experience in-store, while leaving the prosaic acts of item selection and payment to be handled online, we explored the implications for experiential online retail. Taking experiential retail's fundamental concept of relationship, we explored notions of experience, immersion, narrative, presence, agency, journey and affect to work through speculative designs for a virtual and expanded notion of retail space design.

In many ways, these Interior Design Practices courses allowed the students to begin designing for the post-pandemic world, where the elements and principles of virtual design are elevated to a level of importance equal to those of space design, expanded from a utilitarian role of interface into a genuinely experiential function of lived interior. It is exciting to experience the designs of the students in this context and to participate in their design process as they respond to the intimidating but marvellous invitation of the virtual in the post-pandemic era of interior design.

Dr. Adam Nash
Associate Professor, Virtual Interior

Chee Yung Siau, Zimmerman [×]

This hybrid retail environment proposes a whimsical space for the iconic Australian brand Zimmerman. This store reflects Zimmermann’s brand values of sophisticated femininity utilising a laid back aesthetic. The archways featured in the design are reminiscent of the terraced buildings found on the Greek island of Santorini and a consistent element Zimmermann’s physical stores. This concept store’s striking colour targets female users and is suggestive of a beach side location. Different materials were used to create an uncanny visual effect and evoking the user’s curiosity, blurring the boundaries between users and virtual environment. Participants are embedded in a spatial narrative, a journey of discovery and immersive experiences. The interactive mirror is a key trigger point in this concept store, personalising and stimulating the immersive experience in an illusory environment. Beyond a store, this is an experience projecting a scene that aims to immerse users into a parallel dimension where emotions and sensations integrate, stimulating the senses and the actual realisation of dream or vision.

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Elicy Lay, L’Occitane [×]

This design is a hybrid of actual and virtual retail environments for the skin care brand L’Occitane. The design explores three ideas, the interrelation of the exterior and interior, the concept of ‘monastic modern’ and ‘sentient space’ as well as a multi-sensorial experience within retail. The interrelation between exterior and interior integrates biophilic design elements, bringing nature into the interior. It also integrates virtual elements into the physical space for an enhanced experience of nature. The monastic modern aesthetic employs simple monolithic elements to create a more calming, meditative experience and sanctuary – a place of sentience. The design proposal incorporates multi-sensorial elements to heighten consumer’s emotions and cognitive experience. The L’Occitance brand reflects the qualities of the region of Provence in France. The space ultimately transports the customer into the beautiful landscape of Provence.

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Rachel Ren, kaleidoscope space – the parallel world [×]

The project ‘kaleidoscope space – the parallel world’ aims to bring the intrinsic qualities of digital virtual space to visitors and create a unique experience that can reflect their memories in real time.

Each space consists of 2D fragments floating in a larger space making irregular motions. Each 2D fragment is a compression of another 3D space, when triggering a fragment the user will enter the compressed space.

Six components make up the environment: the boundary, network relation, chain reaction, compression, threshold and the loop.

The project uses the components to create a unique experience for the users, based on their memories and attitudes. Each user has subjective feedback and interacts with the space differently. This environment aspires to work with the concepts of time, interaction and threshold. Each virtual space is borderless, exploring notions of “cultural institution without walls” providing a sense of respite to visitors within moments of becoming.

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Jin Song, Journey [×]

‘Journeyʼ questions existence within the virtual environment and its impact on our senses. The design begins by encountering and moving through five cubes floating in the sky. Each of the cubes is joined via stairs and doors, the whole structure connected from beginning to the end, allowing the journey to form an infinite loop.

Throughout the journey, the user can be immersed in different colours, sounds, lights and materials exploring the relationship between time and space and, interior and exterior, emotion and memory. The design concept attempts to explore the space between interior and exterior, time and infinity, emotion and memory.

The journey draws on Martin Heidegger’s concepts of things that ‘come to be’ and ‘affectivity as the capacity to be affected’, asking the questions: What is the meaning of ‘virtual environment’? How do we define space and the relation of subjectivity to space? And, finally what separates the concepts of interior and exterior?

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Muqiu Wang, Sense [×]

‘Sense’ is a virtual environment enabling audiences to produce and immerse themselves in their emotions in an environment with changing colours and shapes in real time. The design provides audiences with initiatives to trigger the changes and transitions of the environment, beginning with human emotions.

Individuals produce their own, but also reflect other’s emotions. These connections form an ‘emotion net’ where our inner-selves experience a process of forming, breaking-down and reforming. This is manifest in the design proposal with fragments representing the ‘emotion net’ while still mirroring the entire environment.

Audiences will experience four colour themes and when they touch an illuminated floating fragment, then the whole space will transition to next colour and the fragments will be broken and reformed.

The journey evokes subconscious emotions in the audiences. While they spend time within it, acting and reacting with it, audiences become conscious of how their subconscious emotions and feelings change along with the environment.

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Vaibhavi Setlur Raghuram, Trek Bicycles [×]

This project is a proposal for an hybrid actual and virtual retail space for Trek Bicycles, the largest manufacturer of bikes and related components in the world. The central idea for the proposal is a new in-store experience that enables deep connection with the brand and products. A key objective of the design was to engage the rider and provide a real time experience with the bikes. Store layout, a natural setting with green spaces, narrative, interactive screens, visual design, and ambient sound were used to facilitate stronger connection and experiences with the brand and products.

The store includes retail, track (trial), workshop and recreational zones. The retail zone showcases the products and supports knowledge development. The trail allows for test riding the bikes. This is structured according to the rider’s comfort and choice including three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Pro-mode. Visitors are able to experience different bike models, track choices, elevations with AR headset and projection screens. The workshop space includes a customisation and an assembly area. Riders are able to customize their own bikes through an interactive mapping touchpad which allows a visualisation of their own customization. The recreational zone includes an interactive bike race using high-definition screens.

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Wei-Yang Tseng, Explore. Sarah & Sebastian [×]

‘Explore. Sarah & Sebastian’ is a virtual and actual hybrid space. By applying virtual elements to physical space, it allows both real-life experience along with an opportunity to explore the brand in more depth.

The façade uses stereo projection to attract people, provoking curiosity, then using a clean, white environment to emphasise the focal point of water floating in the air.

Upon entering the store an AR journey allows the visitor to experience the process of how the designers of ‘Sarah & Sebastian’ transform ideas from inspiration into the finished products. The visitor first experiences a snorkelling simulation with virtual sea creatures recreating the designers’ inspiration.

Some virtual creatures are different from others – these creatures were inspiring for the designers. If the visitor finds one of the special virtual creatures, it then leads the visitor to the next area, which is a corridor that displays the process of ideas transforming into products. Finally, the creature leads the visitor to the jewellery display area, where the finished products are displayed.

‘Explore. Sarah & Sebastian’ is an experiential retail model giving the visitors the same perspective as the designers, creating a stronger link between the visitor and the brand.

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Yang Yang, Virtual Environment [×]

An interactive, generative virtual environment, this project aims to explore and reflect visualizations of the user's subjectivity utilising virtual cues drawn from an interpretation of Gilles Deleuze’s concept ‘Body without Organs’.

Using this concept, an assemblage is produced through a collision between the audience’s subjective experience, and narrative cues that appear along the journey in the design. This provides an experiential journey reflects and reviews sections of the audience serving as a platform, an instrument, a collider opening up possibilities for the audience to assemble different experiences.

The audience then assembles a narrative to understand the object presented in the environment, where the journey cues interact with their subjective experiences. From this, a version of the ‘character of the object’ emerges from limitless possibilities.

Our audience will be immersed in endless darkness, encounter mysterious objects, soon noticing they are in an 'infinite' loop. Through the journey, space will evolve and become a selected virtual representation of the audience.

Yiran Li, Futuristic Store [×]

Futuristic Store pop-up, utilises Unity to create a virtual installation. The design focuses on exploring and leveraging the borderless nature of the virtual environment. It brings into the relationship the actual with the virtual, seeking to open up new opportunities.

The design seeks to challenge assumptions about space, by folding in time, and positions them as inseparable from one another. The ‘Futuristic Store’ could become a model for future business and life, allowing people to experience the the virtual space and new possibilities this may bring to the future of the interior.

The project is an exploration about the impact and opportunities that virtual space and environments may have on actual spaces and environments and the changes that the borderless inner-quality of virtual space may have on interior design.

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