Material Duality:Meta Materials

  • {Published}

Imaginative, fantastical materials are emerging out of the metaverse, offering awe-inducing inspirations that are being adopted in the physical world

Analysis

The growing need to build a better future is leading architects and designers to imagine and explore new ideas and realities in the metaverse. In the process, they are creating and experimenting with digital materials that offer a more sophisticated and otherworldly aesthetic, pushing the limits of virtual reality beyond its current cartoonish, web 1.0 look and feel.

As digital software becomes increasingly advanced, renders and 3D designs are also becoming more tactile and realistic. Designers are experimenting with digital CMF, delving into nuances within texture, pattern and finish as they are applied to different forms and materials with varied lighting effects and environments. They are also experimenting with the interplay of colours, light and shadow, producing imagination-driven materials and colour effects such as iridescent and holographic surfaces, both of which are being used to create online dreamscapes.

Deepmind

These digital landscapes provide metaverse users with the ability to break free from the mental and physical constraints of reality. Architecture firm Space Popular offers this through its use of nature-infused virtual textiles as portals in the metaverse, transforming the experience of navigating between digital worlds into a poetic activity that allows for a sense of wonder distinct to the real world. Digital artist Rik Oostenbroek delivers this through his signature application of unique colour-changing abstract shapes and dynamic forms in Mirage.

These digitally invented aesthetics are also being recreated in the real world in the form of art, surfaces, and wearables that generate just as much awe as the digitised versions.

Australian artist Michael Staniak creates hypersurface sculptures that replicate the textures of cave walls from 3D scans, applying heavily saturated colours and iridescent qualities that blur the lines between digital screens and reality. Montreal-based fashion designer Ying Gao creates shimmering robotic dresses that simulate VR aesthetics.

Deepmind

Why it matters

The evolution of the metaverse design along with new developments in technology will continue to give rise to new aesthetics and materials. While applying inspiration from the real world digitally feels intuitive, it’s also important that we honour the power of the digital realm in pushing human imagination when it comes to experimenting and creating new materials and aesthetic concepts in real life. After all, the human need for stimulation and wonder will only grow as we continue to seek an escape from everyday life, online and offline.

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