Design in the metaverse explored on latest podcast episode

DESIGN POD, the design podcast for all designers and architects, has just dropped it’s latest episode (and it’s a juicy one). Editor Hamish Kilburn and interior designer Pallavi Dean catch up to explore ‘design in the metaverse’…

Pallavi Dean Metaverse DESIGN POD

Don’t switch off. Even if you are – no, especially if you are – a metaverse sceptic, I urge you to listen to episode 30 of DESIGN POD, which explores the boundless, creative and immersive design possibilities in the metaverse. It is not, by any means, suggesting that the virtual world will replace real-life interactions. If anything, this episode of the design podcast is suggesting that will enhance those real life experiences.

Before HIX 2022, when I chaired an honest, open and entertaining panel discussion on this very topic, the idea of the metaverse, like it does for many others, sent a shiver down my spine. I wasn’t sure how, as an industry, we were ethically allowing ourselves to explore the virtual universe when so much of the good that happens in hotel design comes from celebrating and researching the tactile, real-life nature of materials. And that’s where I was going wrong – changing my mindset to realise that real-life hospitality and virtual experiences can co-exist allowed this episode of DESIGN POD to happen.

Pallavi Dean, Founder of Dubai-based interior design studio Roar, explains on the design podcast episode that the metaverse will not replace physical hospitality. Instead, Dean, together with a cluster of forward-thinking designers around the world who have also purchased property in the metaverse, is encouraging us to think of this connected virtual universe as an extension of a brand. “The metaverse is something that is meant to be an immersive experience,” the designer explains. “What we have to remember, as empaths, is that we are still human. We might be interacting through web browsers or VR headsets, but we still want an experience, a journey, and something that is relatable.”

And it doesn’t end there. On the episode, before talking to Dean – someone who has, in her words, ‘skin in the game’ having purchased four plots in the metaverse – about what designers should consider start in purchasing and designing this virtual world, I wanted to further get to know her and the personality of her studio. In order to understand why Roar is considered, in real life and in the metaverse, one of the leading boutique design studios in the UAE, it was important to start the episode by exploring how Dean approaches design in real life, which, it turns out is no different to her work in virtual worlds. “Putting it in basic terms, the metaverse is 3D modelling, which is what we do every single day when we are pitching for projects,” the designer says.

This episode is about challenging misconceptions, which is something that interior designers and architects have long championed. The metaverse has conjured up so many opinions in recent years – and all of which are valid. This episode subtly asks whether it would be better to be part of the narrative; to shape the future of meta with layers of human-centric design, rather than being a powerless sceptic on the sidelines.

The full 40-minute podcast episode, which follows episode 29, is available to listen to on all major podcast platforms – just search ‘DESIGN POD’ wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode will drop on April 26 with hotelier Derek Joubert, Co-Founder of Great Plains Conservation, who will join Kilburn to discuss hotels in nature.

Main image credit: Roar / DESIGN POD