What do designers think about NFT and metaverse?

News, Osservatorio — 11 February 2022

We spoke with Studiopepe, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Andreis Reisenger and Fabio Viola to try to shed some light and identify opportunities and criticalities.

NFT, the Non-Fungible Token, at the same time with the metaverse, is a topic that in recent months has gained more and more popularity among experts but also on the pages of mainstream newspapers. The topic has been received, on the one hand, with curiosity and interest, on the other, with skepticism: there are those who speak of opportunities and those who speak of a dystopian future.

Currently, the debate is generating more questions than certainties, putting on the table arguments related to opportunities, but also ethical implications and issues related to energy resources. A debate that naturally also involves designers, who in this digital acceleration find themselves wondering about the future of the design world applied to these new technologies.

NFT and design: bubble or opportunity?

Andrés Reisinger is the author of the now famous Hortensia Chair, an armchair in NFT format, which then became a product thanks to Moooi, and the more recent Winter House, a house designed for the metaverse. In 2021 Reisinger managed to sell at auction, in a matter of minutes, ten virtual pieces of furniture for a total of 450 thousand dollars.

"I’m fully dedicating my time to developing my practice in this field, so of course I believe there is incredible potential for NFTs and in the metaverse", said Reisinger. "We already spend more than a third of our time connected to a device or screen of sorts, and our presence in the digital realm keeps increasing. In time, we will get used to performing certain activities that pertain to the physical world in the digital one; for example owning things, building and filling a house. The two experiences cannot substitute each other, but we can learn to make them complementary; I hope and truly believe that we can build meaningful and collective experiences in this new digital dimension, and thus enrich our experiences also in the physical world".

But what are the opportunities for designers who are interested in this world?
"If you think of design for example, the metaverse allows us to experiment until we find the ideal solution without physical implications; in that sense, the digital realm can allow us to introduce positive outputs in our physical realm. This is what happened with my project Hortensia (that digitally created demand before supply) and I am positive the same concept will apply to establishing new properties and cities; experiencing them on a digital platform first, will allow us to create new buildings that accurately respond to actual needs and desires".

Is there a common thread made of recurring imagery that ties the digital projects together?

Adam Nathaniel Furman, a London-based artist and designer, born in 1982, present on Rarible with his collection of works for sale tells us:

"I believe that NFTs are simply another way in which artists and designers can sell their work, only this time there is the exciting element of built-in royalties, so that whenever a secondary sale happens, the designer or artist benefits, something that rarely, if ever happens. The Metaverse is, like books and prints and internet forums and blogs and social media, and computer games, a space in which humans can share their creations, thoughts and ideas, and will be both good, and bad, just as everything humans do is a bit of both."

"There is absolutely no reason that there should be an aesthetic linking NFTs and the Metaverse together at all. Because the platforms are relatively new, there is of course something of a minor consensus amongst the early adopters, but like with the internet before, the more people and creators that start to use the space, the more the aesthetic possibilities will proliferate".

Studiopepe, the design agency founded by Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto
, agrees, stressing that the market is still immature. The duo, author of the De-siderio project presented at Fuorisalone 2020, were forerunners in imagining digital worlds.

"What we have seen so far about NFT and metaverse is only the beginning, the creative and design possibilities are almost infinite, but we are in an initial phase in which there is homogeneity in the offer. The projects we've seen so far pick up on archetypes that to a certain extent are reassuring because they feature familiar elements."

"If we think about Instagram in its early days, we all remember the big trend of square images, which gradually evolved. The development of these new tools leads to a dual desire: that of investigating them and in other ways distancing oneself from them. The progressive development of digital worlds brings with it many opportunities but also critical issues, especially when we talk about the new generations, as in the case of the hikikomori phenomenon, adolescents who decide to isolate themselves from social life. In addition, the youngest, not having known the analog world, will be more inclined and facilitated in understanding these worlds".

Game design and metaverse: the challenges of physical and digital

"Game designers will be the architects of the metaverse just as webmasters have been of the Internet from its beginnings to today," explains Fabio Viola, gamer designer and producer.

"Already in video games almost 2.8 billion individuals in the world meet, interact, experiment new forms of community and democracy, mint and circulate parallel currencies (crypto currency ante litteram) and produce virtual artifacts (now called NFT) that pass between players. If these can be considered the premises of the metaverse, today the great challenge of hardware infrastructure and convergence between platforms is underway. This is how we can explain the big investments of the last year by companies like Microsoft and Facebook and the birth of thousands of start-ups that aim to bridge the gap, still considerable, between physical and digital experiences."

So what should we expect in the coming years?
"Until 2030 we will still see massive forms of digitization, to be understood as a mere technological spillover," Viola points out. "A piece of furniture that was born physical is translated into digital, a city reproduced in Minecraft, an exhibition that becomes a virtual tour and so on. These mere translations from atoms and bytes without an overall rethinking of the modes of production and fruition, risk undermining the path towards worlds that will have to be in nuce hybrid and in which synesthetic experiences will have to interpenetrate with synesthetic ones."

"This is a huge challenge, creative even more than technological. Trans-disciplinary teams will have to learn to work together overcoming the fences between physical and digital departments, because at the center will be the public players accustomed to engaging experiences in which they feel protagonists and participants".

Tag: NFT Studiopepe Adam Nathaniel Furman Andrés Reisinger Fabio Viola Metaverso

© — All rights reserved. — Published on 11 February 2022

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