"Digital room sets will never be built."
This is a realisation I had whilst working on a current digital room set project, and it's not something I've ever thought about before. With architectural visualisations and product CGIs, the purpose of a 3D visualisation is to preview or to sell something, that one day will become real. A CGI of a building is pretty good representation of how the end architecture will look, and so estate agents can sell the house before it's built. The same goes for products. These things will be built, and I love seeing the real thing, and then comparing the digital to the real.
Room sets though will never be built. The products that sit in the digital rooms may one day be manufactured and sold, some might even be available now, but the room will never exist, and it's almost certain to say that the exact configuration of a kitchen or bedroom shown within a CGI is very unlikely to be exactly replicated.
Digital room sets are entirely 3D polygons, computer generated textures, and simulated lighting. Wooden beams, or a stone chimney breast are only pixels, with little consideration is often made to whether these architectural features would be strong enough, durable, or even possible in reality. So long as they look correct and give the impression of realism, then that's usually as far as the design will go.
An alpine digital room set to visualise bi-folding door.
By removing the need for these room sets to be built, we can allow ourselves to build digital room sets which might not exist in reality. The 3D room set used in the Student Mattress Room Set Project doesn't exist in reality, but it could. However by removing the constraint of the room needing to the accurate, strong, and true to technical aspects such as building regulations, the temptation can be to create something un-realistic.
With 3D there are no size or design constraints, we can make rooms as large, unusual, wacky as we feel. This can sometimes be a mistake. For example, with the student room set, we could have easily made the set 10m wide, with elaborate architectural detail, modern furniture, and so on, but it would have quickly not looked like a student room at all. Yes the furniture we added is slightly unusual, and the room is perhaps more elaborate that the student rooms I remember from my University days, but it's still believable, it could be made like this. I believe this balancing act is key to creating a great interior digital room set. Realistic 3D models, materials and lighting only work well if the design and architecture is spot on to begin with. As I've said already, structural and other constraints don't apply in 3D CGI projects a literal sense, but they do apply in a believable sense.
There is the other side of the coin with to the lack of constraints, and this is we as artists and designers have total freedom to create what we want. If you want to show your product on the edge of a volcano, or even on the moon, then CGI and 3D magic can make these possible, at a tiny fraction of the cost of doing it in real life.
Digital room sets can also be stored away on tiny hard drives, archived for later use, amends, or new products. There's no need to de-construct the set, and there are no time limits on how long a set can stay constructed for. Digital room sets can also be quickly changed, re-styled, and given a new look very quickly. Check out the interactive applications over at the interactive page to see more about how interactive applications can be used in conjunction with digital room sets.
Anyway, I'm straying from my original point slightly. To the average viewer, a digital room set may look no different to a traditional, photographed room set, and I guess that's why digital room sets prove popular with clients and customers. My point is that for all the design, styling and virtual construction work, the sets are merely polygons and pixels, and will never be built, touched or experienced in the real world.
Digital room sets will never be built....
....and this makes me sad....
....but I think I'll be OK!