Design for Virtual Reality - creating the 'Reality Decks' world

We’ve been working on the design of the virtual reality app ‘Reality Decks’ with developer Philip Mackenzie (aka producer & dj Phil Mac).  Just released on the 22nd February 2018, Reality Decks lets you ‘DJ, mix and record on virtual vinyl turntables without any physical DJ gear’.

Watch the trailer here:

Why virtual reality?

The world of design is vast and reacts quickly to undulations in the technology world.  Audrey sometimes reminisces to the days when hand drawn floorplans and elevations had to be painstakingly updated by hand in contrast to the rapid revision process we now go through with our CAD drawings.  We’re always on the lookout for new software tools that will shape the design world of tomorrow and are eager to get involved when the opportunity arises.  We’ve seen apps like MakeVR propose a new way to design product prototypes and seen architectural studio VRtisan use virtual reality as an experiential visualization tool for interior spaces.  We’ve also seen some of our suppliers use virtual reality as a tool to help designers visualise and customize their products (we met Finsa at the London Surface Design Show 2018 a few weeks ago, using VR technology to show how their sheetwood can be used).


Our Journey

Our journey exploring virtual reality began when we first tried out one of our existing 3D models in VR.  We’d previously used this 3D model to help visualise and communicate spatial ideas to our clients who were struggling with the ground floor layout of their Victorian terraced house (see project here).  We’ve found that 3D visualizations have helped us test out ideas and communicate these effectively to our clients however saw the potential of virtual reality as a whole new medium of visualisation that it is totally immersive and realistic.

As discussed earlier, we’d already been aware of the apps and studios utilizing the capabilities of VR as a design tool and although this appealed to us, we’d started to play with the idea of interior designers working as virtual reality interior designers in their own right.   Imagine a world where some of our designs found their home exclusively in the virtual world and never crossed the bridge into the physical world!


Our role in the creation of Reality Decks

We already have experience designing physical spaces, furniture and objects however felt we needed to reapply that knowledge to a virtual world where:
-physically based rendering defines our interpretation of light, colour and texture
-metric units and scale differ to those of the physical world
-lines of code and geometry construct a perfect simulation of an imperfect world

The process of designing the world in which Reality Decks exists and the objects that appear in it was not unlike the process we would undertake when working with our ‘real world’ interior design clients.  With Philip’s creative brief guiding our decision making, we looked at reference material, colours and lighting which brought the look of Reality Decks to life (well in a virtual sense anyway!).  Sketches turned into preliminary 3D assets which we’d test in virtual reality and make incremental improvements to.   Over a period of several months, we researched, sketched, modelled, textured and optimised each of the moving parts within the RDT-100 turntable, RDM-100 mixer, accessory equipment and the world they inhabit.

It’s been a highly collaborative cross-disciplinary relationship of learning and creating in what feels like uncharted territory.  We’re delighted to finally announce that the app is now up and running on the Oculus store here.

Some of our early concept sketches for the Reality Decks world:


Screenshots showing early designs for the interior world of Reality Decks:


Screenshots from within the Reality Decks v1.0 app: