In the near future, when people walk into a new home, school or office building for the first time, they may feel as if they’ve already been there.
The feeling won’t be deja vu. It will be the reality of virtual reality.
The traditional floor plan-and- blueprint-world of architecture, construction and interior design is on the cusp of major changes because of virtual reality technology. Contractors, architects and designers will be able to let clients experience a virtual home or building before the first shovel of dirt comes out of the ground.
Lauren Gardner, who is about to begin her career in the field, is excited about the possibilities. She graduated Saturday, May 7, from University of Wisconsin-Stout with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design.
UW-Stout's School of Art and Design offers six undergraduate programs and a Master of Fine Arts in design.
“Imagine yourself in a meeting with a client. Instead of (sharing design renderings), you let them enter the virtual space instantly and they can begin to understand the design,” said Gardner.
Gardner, of Frontenac, Minn., already is somewhat of an expert on the topic. She created a video, “A New Perspective in Interior Design,” that took first place in Next, the IIDA Northland Student Multimedia Competition.
The contest challenge by IIDA, the International Interior Design Association, was to make a two-minute video on a trending topic in the field.
“My prediction is that virtual reality platforms with Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard are going to start being part of the design process in a more collaborative environment,” Gardner said. “It already has the capability to get a person in a space at eye level before the space is constructed.”
Even better, she envisions professionals and their clients in different locations being able to walk through the same virtual reality space — the lobby of a new office building, for example — at the same time so that they can collaborate while affirming what’s good and pointing out what needs to be changed.
Gardner filmed and edited the video and used two UW-Stout students as actors. She had assistance from her adviser, Professor Maureen Mitton, and from Assistant Professor Kim Loken, both from the School of Art and Design. Loken teaches game design and development and has a background in interior design and architecture.
Gardner won $2,000 for first place. She also received a Member’s Choice award from the IIDA Northland Chapter and attended the chapter’s FAB — Fresh, Artistic, Brilliant — awards reception in the Twin Cities.
“The FAB awards really helped ensure that this is the environment I want to work in,” Gardner said.
Lighting, architectural drafting awards
Two other interior design majors were recognized in competitions this spring. Emily Gross, of Rochester, Minn., received an Award of Recognition in the national lighting design Source Awards. Kacie Shull, of Oronoco, Minn., took first place in architectural drafting in the SkillsUSA state tournament.
Gross was one of six award-winners nationally in the student competition. The contest is sponsored by Eaton/Cooper lighting.
Gross’ entry was Bibliothek, a “sophisticated library environment” for college art and design students. The design uses natural light and LED lighting to create “a feeling of transparency,” Gross said.
“The library is subtle yet awe-inspiring, featuring a minimal design scheme while blending natural day lighting with some of today's most innovative lighting solutions,” said Gross, a senior who will graduate in December.
The entries were judged on aesthetics, creativity, technical performance and how well they met the projects’ constraints and goals.
Gross attended the LightFair International conference and awards ceremony in San Diego with her adviser, Associate Professor Julie Peterson. LightFair is the premier international lighting conference in the industry, Peterson said.
At the SkillsUSA state tournament in April in Madison, Shull’s first place in architectural drafting qualified her for the national tournament in June in Kentucky.
For her contest entry, Shull designed a single family home and created a complete set of construction documents. She took a class on the topic from Associate Professor Shelley Pecha, the interior design program director.
Lauren Gardner of UW-Stout took first place in an interior design contest for her video on the use of virtual reality in the industry.
A concept library designed by Emily Gross, an interior design major, features natural and LED lighting to create a “feeling of transparency.”
UW-Stout’s Emily Gross, second from right, receives her Source Award along with Associate Professor Julie Peterson, center, in San Diego.
Kacie Shull of UW-Stout took first place in architectural drafting at the state SkillsUSA competition. She is an interior design major.