Ever wonder what it’s like to work full time in the eye-popping world of metaverse architecture, where the only constraints are imagination and time? We sat down with Sam Okolita, Head of Metaverse Architecture at Everyrealm to hear her thoughts on this exciting new field of architectural design.
During the conversation, she talks about what inspires her, her favorite projects, what led her to the metaverse, and even her ideal home in the metaverse – which just so happens to be a far cry from the buzzy Brooklyn neighborhood she lives in now.
Without further ado, here’s the full Q&A with Sam:
Q: What inspires you?
A: I've always been inspired by the question “what is the future of…” I think design is an act of invention in that you're not just making something beautiful. You have to invent new ways of living and new ways of working – new ways of interacting with each other. And I think that's part of the metaverse and architecture of the metaverse – it's creating new spaces for life to play itself out. Design makes me happy. I get really immersed in the creative process. I'm totally captivated by it.
I've worked on a range of different typologies of projects. I started off more as an installation artist. So building large scale installations at the Saint-Étienne Biennale in France, and the Venice Design Biennale as well as a large scale installation at burning man in 2018. From there, I went to more traditional architecture practices – large scale building projects, housing, museums, to master plans for speculative and real cities.
Q: What are your favorite metaverse architecture projects that you've worked on?
A: So I've had the opportunity to design a couple of different islands in the metaverse, which have been really fun. One that stands out is a gallery to exhibit for The Row – a project that we launched here at Everyrealm. It is a gallery space that shows off the artists’ work, but will also become a terminal that has 30 different portals where you can teleport to the artists’ spaces.
Q: What made you want to begin designing in the metaverse?
A: I was very curious about the metaverse as a new medium for architects, and I think architects are uniquely qualified to elevate this medium to an exceptional level.
It's in the very early stages of the metaverse. So some of the architecture in there right now is pretty crude and a bit rudimentary, but as the technology gets better and more architects enter the space, I think we can create something that's really sophisticated and based off of the normal ideals of architecture, of light, of program, and interactivity.
Q: What's different about designing in the metaverse versus in real life.
A: The design process is pretty similar. As an architect, you're still designing a space. Of course, there's the obvious difference that there's no gravity, that you can teleport, and things like that. And it's liberating, but also a bit constricting in that you have to work without any true materiality.
Q: Which metaverse architecture projects are you most interested in right now?
A: So the architecture spaces that I'm most interested in in the metaverse right now are the ones that have a program that you can’t have in a traditional space. There's this really amazing meditation VR space that I saw. It's really focused. Helping people escape to relax.
There was a podcast about using VR as meditation to get word trauma. 80% of your perception is visual. So when you're able to go into VR and change your visual perception, you can actually manipulate the way that your mind is working. So it's a way that you can help relieve trauma. By going into a space that feels ephemeral and surreal. The metaverse and virtual reality have many use cases beyond gaming for both mental health and interacting with people in safe spaces. There's many use cases beyond just creating something that's beautiful. Something that can really help change lives.
Q: If you could design your dream home in the metaverse, what would it look like?
A: Because I live in Brooklyn, probably a tree house in the metaverse somewhere that I could escape to that's filled with lush green, that couldn't be easily accessed. In my day to day life, not everyone's going to the metaverse to look for something in outer space or a crazy fantasy world. People wanna do pretty normal everyday things, or they want to use it as a sense of escape. So I think bringing nature into the metaverse is huge.
People have a natural tendency to want to be in very green spaces. So I think there's a place for naturalized worlds in the metaverse – a way of escaping to your favorite national park and having that moment where you're standing on top of a cliff and you're seeing the serene natural world. So it's not necessarily just about creating spaceships or things that look like they came out of sci-fi novels.
I think it's about creating real world spaces that people can escape to, even though the sci-fi stuff is pretty cool too.
We are so grateful Sam took the time to talk through her musing with us. The field of metaverse architecture is sure to expand as new platforms and destinations emerge.
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