Meet the new designer showhouse that's entirely digital—and an innovative, virtual-reality format that might be here to stay.
The (Virtual) Show Must Go On
Like many things in 2020, designer showhouses as we know them have taken an about-face, adopting CDC-recommended safety precautions, hosting online events, and—in the case of Seasonal Living Magazine’s 2020 showhouse—going completely virtual.
The first of its kind, the home sprawls 20,000 (virtual) square feet, situated atop a 20-acre (virtual) estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu. The brainchild of Seasonal Living Magazine publisher Gary Pettit, the luxury, 3D home features the work of 11 talented designers and is now open for digital tours in this month’s special-edition issue of Seasonal Living.
So what does designing a room for a virtual showhouse entail? For starters, location and budget constraints aren’t an issue here, which meant designers from across the country were able to participate, and had more freedom to create uniquely inspiring spaces (which include a Zoom Room and a living-turned-learning “Flex” Room.)
“All showhouse opportunities intrigue me, but this one really did, as there would not be much expense on my part, except, of course, design and documentation time,” says designer Carla Aston, who decorated the Living Room with geometric, abstract details—including a Pathways by Verde Home rug and a Syntax rug—to match the home’s modern lines. “I loved the idea of a space you could walk through visually, and the fact that it would all be viewed only in the virtual world was really novel. It’s such an exciting new concept for showhouses and for our lives today.”
While much of the design prep was the same—creating floor plans, identifying products, sketching up elevations and details, and selecting materials—the execution was much different than that of a traditional showhouse.
“It was an interesting switch for me to design and then let someone else follow through with it,” says Veronica Solomon, who designed the Dining Room with tactile textures—like the Genesis rug underfoot—and organic materials to allow the pool view to take centerstage. “ I usually have full control of the entire process from start to finish, and sometimes—although my vision is very clear in my head and even on paper—there are tiny details and nuances that are my signature that are a bit harder to communicate to someone else. It was definitely a great experience. The time is now to be a part of such an amazing event.”
What’s New & Next?
The ability to tour a virtual-reality showhouse with just a few clicks certainly opens up doors for the future of the design industry. “I think designers will be doing much more remote design work moving forward in the years ahead,” says Aston. “We’ve all had to become more adept at communicating without being there in person, and these skills will not go unused in the future.”
To that end, Solomon advises fellow designers to “show your work more; capture it in its best light by using professional photography. Show off the process, which could be posting flatlays, moodboards and 3D renderings…We certainly see more requests for photo realistic visuals to communicate our design concepts.”
And if 2020 has taught the design industry one thing, it’s that there’s no one way to be a designer. “I think the path ahead will be all about building a business that works for you and the way you want to work,” says Aston. “There is no right or wrong way to work in design anymore.”
Tour Seasonal Living Magazine’s Virtual Luxury Showhouse here