Metacity Scalatized Town by XMArchitect
Metacity Scalatized Town by XMArchitect, a MAD Awards finalist for Out of This World.

Why the Metaverse Matters for Architects and Designers

We get it. Web3 and metaverse spaces are no longer abstract concepts—the future of the virtual realm is here. But why does this technology matter for architects and designers? What can the virtual world offer creatives who bring to life physical spaces full of texture and raw materials? It turns out, quite a lot.

For architects and designers, the metaverse offers new opportunities for 3D modeling as well as innovative approaches to doing what they do best—creating environments for people to work, play, and connect. “As a design firm, when should something be physical? When should something be digital? And/or a mix of the two?” editor in chief Cindy Allen asked attendees at the recent Giant Ideas event. As the architecture and design community continues to grapple with these questions, some already are making an impact in the space, such as Interior Design‘s Metaverse Architecture and Design (MAD) Awards finalists.

Looking ahead to the industry’s first MAD Awards ceremony, we put together a primer to help explain the newest design frontier. And in the spirit of celebrating artificial intelligence—which eases user journeys and prioritizes accessibility in the metaverse with avatars, chatbots, language tools, and more—we even consulted ChatGPT for its take on the boundless virtual realm.

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Web3 and Metaverse Spaces Explained

The Meeting Place by Benny Or Studio
The Meeting Place by Benny Or Studio, a MAD Awards finalist for Metaverse Destination.

What is the difference between the metaverse and Web3?

Web3 and metaverse spaces are related concepts, but they are not interchangeable. A metaverse is a virtual space where users can interact with one another in immersive ways. Imagine stepping into a 3D experience with a customized avatar where you can grab coffee with friends in a cafe or attend a live event. Essentially, a metaverse is as real and as interactive as the physical world.

Web3 refers to the third generation of the internet, which is more open and transparent, moving beyond Web2—think: TikTok and Facebook—and Web1, considered the earliest form. As the Harvard Business Review puts it, Web3 offers a read, write, and own version of the web, giving users a financial stake in—and more control over—the web communities they belong to. Web3 is expected to revolutionize the way we interact and work. “It’s basically a new universe with endless opportunities,” Allen said.

A rainbow tower that is a building in the metaverse
L’Atelier, Miami Fashion Week by Metaverse Group, a MAD Awards finalist for Built: Experiential.

Is there only one metaverse? 

No. Each metaverse is created from various virtual and augmented reality technologies like social media, gaming, and virtual reality platforms. The result is a shared virtual space where users can interact with one another. Of course, the purpose and use of the metaverse varies, depending whom you ask.

Metacity Scalatized Town by XMArchitect
Metacity Scalatized Town by XMArchitect, a MAD Awards finalist for Out of This World.

Why is Web3 important for architects and designers?

Web3 and metaverse spaces already are transforming the way people live, work, and create. The technology is here and it’s evolving in real time, which means design opportunities in Web3 are here too.

At baseline, Web3 technology enables architects and designers to maintain complete control over the design of an environment, as well as the ability to make it accessible to anyone with an internet connection. To get started in Web3, consider asking: How can the virtual world act as a companion to physical spaces? Manufacturers are creating metaverse spaces to operate as virtual showrooms, extending their product lines and specification opportunities. Designers, meanwhile, can import their designs seamlessly into different metaverses like, where Interior Design is hosting the MAD Awards, to allow their clients to walk through them first-hand.

A hallway with art on the walls inside the Kripke Virtual Museum in Web3
The Kripke Virtual Museum by Studio B Architects, a MAD Awards finalist for Unbuilt: Commercial.

Though there is much to learn about Web3 and metaverse spaces, what’s clear is that these technologies offer new and varied possibilities for designers, architects, and manufacturers to create—and connect—with a broader, global community. “As architects, designers, and manufacturers, that’s what you do,” Allen said at Giant Ideas. “You transform the experience of the user in a building, in a space, in a chair, and now in the metaverse.”

Learn more about Interior Design‘s MAD Awards hosted in partnership with digby and see 2023 finalists.

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