House of Switzerland, Salone del Mobile, Milano
A research platform for exploring the digital as a medium.
A collaboration between MAIA + Volume magazine
In 1970, the first virtual reality headset was born. It opened up a completely unknown universe offering its users limitless possibilities to explore, to create, to play, to work, for a future that seemed to be full of technologies and discoveries, each more surprising than the last. More than 50 years later you hold in your hands an issue called ENTERING THE ROOM, which presents several views that explore the different ways virtual reality now inhabits our lives. It is the result of a close collaboration between the Master students of Interior Architecture at HEAD – Genève and Lilet Breddels and Arjen Oosterman, editors of VOLUME magazine.
Virtual realities and parallel digital worlds are growing drastically and becoming more present in our everyday. The recent ambitions of Facebook/META is but one example. The emergence of digital has completely changed the way we perceive and live in the physical world. We share intimate everyday details of our lives, our dinners, our interiors, our locations on communication platforms visible to everyone. The screen has become a new threshold allowing us to enter a digital space. We welcome the digital into our daily lives because it has become a new space to work, experiment, perform, and share. Nowadays, digital worlds and more precisely virtual reality, raise many questions and we cannot afford to be ignorant of this phenomenon. It is therefore necessary to be aware of the ethical, political, social, and environmental consequences of the construction of digital worlds. We need to ask who and how it allows us to conceptualize one or more futures. What possibilities can the virtual offer us? How do we welcome the virtual into our lives and in daily practices? Therefore, the question is how can we make something relevant out of it?
ENTERING THE ROOM is a research platform for considering the digital as a medium. A place for experimentation and discussion around the question of the virtual and its interconnection with the real. The magazine will be rooted in the actual, not only in speculation and theory. This first issue, on virtual reality, is taking a critical look at this medium which allows the creation of immersive universes by computer. Through a cross-section of different practitioners, we try to highlight the challenges we face but also the possibilities that virtual reality can offer. Architects, scientists, archaeologists, researchers, and artists, take the floor and share with us their critical vision and their position on the construction of a digital world.
As interior design students, we try to analyze and investigate the possibilities that virtual reality can provide in our practice. For us, virtual reality is a tool to create, to perform, and to innovate. Virtual reality is an opportunity, as designers, to conceptualize digital archetypes that are different from those we know from physical architecture. We want to focus on the potential virtual reality has to create and experiment with abstract spaces, an experience not feasible in the physical world. Through several experimental case studies based on the creation of abstract spaces, we try to explore this immersive environment as an emotion generator. Could these enhanced experiences of space and time emphasize our emotional feelings and contribute to our well-being?
Valeria Lydia Kraehenbuehl
Image Credits © HEAD – Genève, Morgan Carlier