ELLE DECOR India takes you inside the country’s first ever Metaverse design studio

AUG 12, 2022 | By Team ELLE DECOR India
The entry experience of NOOR Architects Consultants’ Metaverse studios reveals a stunning union of sea and mushrooming sand dunes; Photograph courtesy NOOR Architects Consultants
The studio will develop a range of non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) to be sold to meta visitors with digital crypto currency. The first of the products to be offered is a perennial favourite, the Pierre Jeanneret chair, or the Chandigarh chair and the Kangaroo chair will also be up for grabs; Photograph courtesy NOOR Architects Consultants
The sweeping studio structure with its round plan has a living terrace of wild grasses in luscious hues of Sakura blossoms which is approached from inside via an architectural ‘stairway to heaven’; Photograph courtesy NOOR Architects Consultants

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Free Guy, Inception, The Matrix… one thing that is common between these critically acclaimed and successful movies is the concept of metaverse (and of course, actors that sweep you off your feet with their good looks). 

Change is inevitable, and that abides by reality—the metaverse is evolving by nature. Users traverse a virtual world that mimics aspects of the physical realm using technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), AI, social media and digital currency. The internet is something that people ‘browse’ but, to a degree, people can ‘live’ in the metaverse. Jumping on this bandwagon is NOOR Architects Consultants, a Chandigarh based cross disciplinary design practice headed by Noor Dasmesh Singh. 

Culture meets modernistic technology in their freshly 3D printed metaverse studios. From popular works of the artist Mark Rothko, design objects of Pierre Jeanneret to the life size model of Chandigarh’s ‘Open Hand’ in exposed concrete, the studio gives a riveting ode to all things that hold an emotional value to the City Beautiful’s exemplary architecture. 

Noor Dasmesh Singh, Principal of NOOR Architects Consultants

Catch principal of the practice Noor Dasmesh Singh in a tell-all, exclusive interview with ELLE DECOR India where he unearths the why’s and how’s of his studio in a parallel universe. 

We love your studio in the metaverse and everything it stands for? Was it an extension of your constrictions as a designer or your dreams?

Our practice’s studios in the Metaverse is a natural extension for over a decade-long studio in Chandigarh. It does circle back to one of the germ ideas of the Metaverse as customisable and constantly evolving avatars. Therefore, our metaverse studio is our very own avatar.  

It really started out as an area of academic interest for our practice’s think tank ROON (mirror of NOOR). Metaverse intrigued us and the quest to know more about this hyper reality began about nine months back, when we committed some time and resources to engage with this space more intimately.

 It is a labour of love for our vision of an architecture unfettered by/free of the restraints imposed by technology, engineering, geology and laws of physics. 

In an effort to extend the theory of ISMs of architecture we have appropriated it with our ‘Post architectural’ metaverse studio. Post architecture is a genre that embodies the idea of ‘all is possible, all is one’, and is an Icarian vision of a singularity that salutes the power of human will, imagination and creativity.

Post architectural much like Metaverse, effortlessly blurs and ultimately explodes the boundaries of microcosm and macrocosm; the absent and the present; ‘art for arts’ sake’ and ‘art for man’s sake’; and the ‘here’ and the ‘there’ (to omnipresent and omni ambient spaces which are accessible at the touch of a button anywhere and everywhere). 

While the possibilities are endless, how will you stay within the ethos of your design discipline while designing in and for the metaverse? How far will the boundaries stretch? Are there any boundaries at all?

I believe that the metaverse exists within each architect.

Our studios would be inspired to create a new ethos and extend our design discipline in response to the exciting, unexplored, possibilities offered by the Metaverse. We believe that there are no boundaries at all. The labyrinth of an architectural mind may be explored fully by the creators within the Metaverse. 

This is a curious and powerful parallel world that stimulates our imagination. It ignites a dimension in our mind which is part-tech, part-imagination, blurring the boundaries of tangible and intangible. It cuts through and penetrates human desires- what we know as the real world isn’t that real.  The Metaverse sets the tone for boundless probabilities and is a realm for the creative amalgamation of the real, the imaginary, the unreal, the surreal, the hyper-real and mirror-reflections of the real.

Since this is going to be in the metaverse, the laws of physics may be defied to create an almost dream-like experience where fantasy and the real world collide.

Do you as a designer also assume a new avatar in the metaverse? We all know our space and ambience inspires us to work a certain way.

Metaverse circles back to one of our originating ideas to manifest our presence in the Metaverse as customisable and constantly-evolving avatars. I do assume new avatars in the Metaverse, for it offers amazing potential for the extension of the designer’s personality, thought process and vision. 

While nowhere mainstream do you see us designing and purchasing homes in the metaverse? Perhaps it will finally be affordable. Have you designed your dream home yet?

Homes in the Metaverse are definitely the near future for all of us and we believe that it’s highly likely that they will become a reality across strata democratising the idea of a dream home for many. We may be touching a greater number of lives with their respective dream homes, that resonate with each personality type. I would be honest to admit that I’m already living in my dream home in Chandigarh but would love to have a pad in the Metaverse soon!

The Pierre Jeanneret chair – quite a symbol of design to launch with. Why did you choose this piece? Should we be looking for more icons coming up?

The studio space is a culmination of elements from varied cultural references that have influenced the practice over the years. Tossed thoughtfully in the studio space are works of the artist Mark Rothko, design objects of Pierre Jeanneret to the life size model of Chandigarh’s ‘Open Hand’ in exposed concrete. 

The Pierre Jeanneret chair being a perennial favourite—also lovingly called the Chandigarh chair, was one of the spontaneous ones to launch with—closest to the mind’s eye and heart perhaps. It would be available in authentic burma teak stains and rattan.    

The floor of the studio space is treated in raked sand, abstracted from the Japanese aesthetic of yohaku-no-bi and the karesansui gardens. The ensemble of the Capitol is a symbol that holds a special space in our hearts, so we ended up bringing in this reference to the metaverse too. The design intent is to bring these strands into one melting pot—call it our studios. 

NFTs may be bought with cryptocurrency. Surely more objects that find a deep connection with the studio’s philosophy would be carefully curated in near future. 

What kind of projects are you undertaking in your metaverse studio?

Metaverse is no different than creating projects in the physical world. It does go through the rigour of following the same creative process, as a project may go through in the physical world. Just that Metaverse brings with it a great flexibility and imaginability that a physical world may be some time limiting.

Currently in the Metaverse, we are working for an experience centre for our existing clients of an electric urban mobility company EVage. The programme is to showcase the technological aspects of electric vehicles. Much like the physical world, the user shall transverse the space of the built block and learn about the components of the vehicle. The labyrinth of architectural spaces would lead to a grand showcase of the vehicle. One may be able to book conference spaces via your phone and conduct meetings within your respective avatars. 

Another project in the offing is an ideation of a residence for an artist couple. We are also developing a range of NFTs that can be bought with cryptocurrency.

What would you really love to see in the metaverse personally – as a multidisciplinary designer?

The metaverse encourages and allows for the creation, compilation and to generate a repository of ideas which may not be fully realisable in material reality as of now but are likely to push the boundaries of design and building construction techniques. It is highly likely that the existence of these ideas would lead to engineering solutions that would allow for their construction in material reality in the very near future.   

The fluid nature of the metaverse allows for its development in ways that we might not be able to even imagine at the moment. NOOR Architects Consultants’ studio space is likely to develop designs that are infinitely customisable, post architectural, inherently humanistic, potentially ground-breaking and able to transcend the limitations of the material world and current human thought/imagination of building technology.