Adipat Virdi’s upcoming immersive theater experience For I Am, Other will use virtual reality headsets. Photo courtesy Adipat Virdi.

Design Optimism Talks: Unlocking the Potential of Immersive Technology

Adipat Virdi explored the creative power of virtual reality during the February session of METROPOLIS’s Design Optimism Talks.

Could it be that virtual reality, that long-promised and anticipated technology, replete with face-covering goggles, will have as profound an impact on architecture as the advent of AutoCAD, Revit and other computer drawing software? London-based Adipat Virdi thinks so, and he made his case when he joined METROPOLIS editor in chief Avinash Rajagopal for the February edition of Design Optimism Talks.

“The way in which we practice architecture and interior design will be fundamental to how the immersive economy evolves,” Virdi said. “This notion of being able to predict things like interaction, movement, and choice are all important. We are going to evolve spatial environments.” At present Virdi is a wide-ranging VR authority, having held past posts such as global immersive specialist and global creative product lead at Meta (Facebook).

Virdi studied at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities and said his parents advised him to pursue either medicine, law, or architecture. “I chose architecture because it was the most creative of the options I had,” he recalled. “But I also wanted to write and make films. Architecture and film dovetailed perfectly, taking me down a path toward VR and immersive technology.”

Adipat Virdi, Global Immersive Strategist

Today, he is sharply focused on future consumers—Gen Z and Gen Alpha. “They’re the next generations who will have disposable incomes,” he said, “and they demand new ways of consuming content. Instead of ‘buying’ they want to ‘belong’; instead of branded products they are far more interested in brand values; instead of being passive observers they want to be immersed participants; instead of linear paths they want decentralized ecosystems; and instead of control they expect choice.” To this he added the imperatives of experiencing (beyond watching to inhabiting); feeling (tasting, smelling, hearing, and feeling the world in new ways); connecting (looking for genuine human connection); and finally evolving (going beyond inspiration to aspiration).

What can designers expect going forward as they interact with clients using VR technology? “I remember when I was an architectural designer, I used to draw plans and try to explain to the client by saying, ‘Hey, check this out.’ Now, with VR, they can see their homes as they are—and as what they could become.

“VR and immersive experiences,” Virdi concluded, “allow you to be more iterative because they advance prototyping and allow you to be malleable and flexible. That’s the game of today.”

Listen to the February session of Design Optimism Talks here. This session was presented by Garden on the Wall.

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