Judging from the search traffic on the keyword “how to become a metaverse designer”, there’s a decent amount of interest in building and constructing in the virtual world.
Fair enough, as it’s heaps of fun to be an architect – especially when you don’t have to concern yourself with life-or-death factors like structural integrity.
It’s an excellent moment to experiment with the virtual, too. From the looks of it, metaverse development studios like VoxelArchitects, Metabuilders and Decentraland Architects seem to be raking it in.
Architecture firms and brands are introducing unprecedented roles that flaunt all the meta-derivative buzzwords. Even the renowned architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group left its mark in Decentraland.
The year 2022 has been a good time to brush up on those Rhino skills.
But it’s not just about 3D modelling, and there’s a lot to learn from areas like game theory and UX design.
Whether building for virtual clubbing, earning, socialising or shopping – how does one design a space in the metaverse and incentivise users to stick around instead of boring them enough to teleport off to one of the many locations out there?
There’s a short window of time – a bounce rate, more or less – to work with and little commitment to stay.
Brands have the additional challenge of reflecting and protecting their identity in the virtual space, much like they would across their events. This is attested to by the fact that each branded space seems to involve a handful of agencies ranging from development firms, marketing firms, and in tequila brand Jose Cuervo’s case: a food design firm.
Here’s a look at examples of places with fascinating interiors and architecture deployed in one of the most popular platforms, Decentraland.
METADISTILLERY JOSE CUERVO
Image courtesy of Rojkind Arquitectos
Image courtesy of Rojkind Arquitectos
“There are no strangers in the metaverse,” reads a sign in Jose Cuervo’s “Metadistillery”.
Jose Cuervo, the best-selling tequila brand in the world, launched their interactive digital experience on Decentraland in July 2022.
In an environment designed by the Mexico City firm Rojkind Arquitectos in collaboration with the London food design studio Bompas & Parr, the brand took the virtual opportunity for some storytelling.
The Metadistillery is based on an “abstracted” version of their La Rojena distillery in Mexico, and its rooted shape is inspired by the roots of the Agave plant (which is cooked and fermented for its juice in tequila production).
Features include a wooden barrel maze to test visual-spatial skills and a glass filter portal. Users can visit hotspots like the Cuervo Discovery Garden and the Pina Pool. The brand encourages engagement and discovery with incentives like the ability to win Cuervo swag like wearables and NFTs by the artist Peter Tarka.
It’s unfortunate that we’ll have to wait before we can actually sip on margaritas in the metaverse.
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If you can’t make it to Ibiza, you can semi-teleport to its nightlife instead. The island’s iconic club, Amnesia, launched in Decentraland in October 2021 with a virtual party and a line-up that included headliners like Paul Van Dyk, Benny Benassi and more.
Developed with the leading NFT-based games builder Decentral Games, the superclub includes spaces like the Amnesia Ibiza Terrace, the Amnesia Arena and the Amnesia museum room.
Balconies on the sides cheekily reference the club’s real-life venue. Cyberpunk purple continues to be a popular colour choice in the metaverse, as do neons. If there was a city made to be replicated in the metaverse, it’s likely to be Ibiza.
Unlike virtual spaces that are launched with excitement and momentum, but are later ignored, Amnesia’s space continues to make it to Decentraland’s events programming – like their live stream of Steve Aoki’s HiROQUEST party in August 2022.
No Ibiza experience is complete without a sighting of club merch, and the NFT store has it all, Bershka x Amnesia capsule collection included.
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Tokyo’s real-life Harajuku district already gives the impression that it operates in the metaverse – being so colourful and futuristic of sorts. Now, imagine it actually in the metaverse. Enter Metajuku.
Designed by the Austin-based architect Martin Guerra and developed by the digital real estate company Every Realm, Metajuku is an entire shopping district with an open space at its centre.
In February 2022, J.P. Morgan announced they were the first bank to join the metaverse, launching in no other than Metajuku.
“Real world shopping malls are sitting half empty as stores move more business online. Meanwhile, elaborate virtual malls are being built in the metaverse, a nascent industry called 'de-commerce,” said CEO of Everyrealm, Janine Yorio.
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In true Samsung fashion, the brand announced the launch of their metaverse twin during CES 2022 in Las Vegas: a flashy world based on the real-life Samsung 837 flagship store in New York City’s Meatpacking District.
Since launching in January 2022 with a dance party featuring DJ Gamma Vibes, the brand has aired events like their Galaxy Unpacked at the Connectivity Theatre and digital billboard tower air.
A scene of trees – in partnership with nature-based solution company Veritree – line up in the Sustainability Forest, referencing the brand’s commitment to plant two million trees by the first quarter of 2022.
Users can earn NFT badges and wearables, enter raffles, and look forward to the next big launch at Samsung 837X.
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Sotheby’s don’t appear to be interested in fantasy across the metaverse, and their virtual gallery in Decentraland appears to be way too structurally sound to be there.
Still, there’s something oddly exciting about visiting a place that is a replica of a real-life location – in this case, their New Bond Street Galleries location in London (including an avatar of the auction house’s commissionaire Hans Lomulder to welcome users in).
Their first sale in the series Natively Digital featured the auction of NFTs ranging from Cryptopunk 7523 to Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda’s first NFT, A Single Number That Has 10,000,086 Digits.
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M SOCIAL DECENTRALAND
The Singaporean company Millennium Hotels and Resorts is proud to have snagged the title of “first hospitality group to open a hotel in the metaverse”. Launched in May 2022, their M Social Decentraland is based on the M Social real-world brand of design hotels across Paris, New York, Singapore and Auckland.
Located by Genesis Plaza – the absolute prime heart of Decentraland – the hotel’s design by the communications agency MullenLowe features an “M” on four sides, a glass exterior and neon pink accents all over.
“We hope to redefine hospitality through M Social Decentraland by creating online adventures that integrate with real-life events,” said executive chairman of the group, Kwek Leng Beng.
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It sounds like the global media agency Vice Media Group was planning on taking remote work to another level. Built by the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, their 26th office, the first in the metaverse, is a cube-like shape highly reminiscent of the architect’s TED building in Taipei, Taiwan.
Users need a little hike across the white receding lamellas to get in, and having ascended the structure, they can look for hidden surprises with a lovely view.
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RIZK AMUSEMENT PARK
Image courtesy of Rizk Ghazaly
Fancy drifting in a Lamborghini? Built by Decentraland architect Rizk Ghezaly, District X is an area comprising 2001 contiguous LAND parcels full of merriment and its own inhouse amusement park, Rizk Amusement Park.
Get on the Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of it all. Besides the park itself, the intensely colourful district features the District X Hot Air Balloon at the X-Treme Aeronautics Club, the Hyper-X-Loop, the District X Racer, the District X Tower and Club X on the rooftop.
The grand opening kicked off in July 2022 with a party headlined by DJ Rosa.
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Enjoyed reading about the architecture and the best buildings in the metaverse? Continue exploring:
Cover Credit: Rojkind Arquitectos
Writer | Bana Bissat
Bana Bissat is a Milan-based writer who reports on sound art for Sound of Life. She has written for Flash Art, Lampoon, and Cultured. @banabissat