With dozens of platforms now offering land in these new digital realms and brands and organizations rushing in to stake their claim, sales of metaverse real estate topped half a billion dollars last year. In addition to designing virtual homes, stores, offices, schools, galleries, and event venues, virtual space planning and digital furniture and finishes are design services that continue to be in high demand.
Looking ahead, “Where the metaverse will really excel is going to be in experiences and services, whether it’s education, or entertainment, or going to the bank,” notes Singaby. “Maybe you can walk into a metaverse DMV—that could use an improvement for sure.” Just as in the built world, the kinds of virtual spaces where people want to go and spend time will be functional, enjoyable, and human-centric. As creators of spatial experiences, architects and designers have a lot to offer. “We’re thinking about a type of interaction that has a limitless potential, and it’s a potential that is pretty undefined right now,” observes Lane of Digby. “So, when you’re working in an industry that’s literally built to design things, there’s an incredibly interesting opportunity there.”
For all the tantalizing possibilities the metaverse affords design professionals and the clients they work with, this emergent technology—like all new technologies—also brings with it a raft of broader issues. Among them are the accessibility, diversity, sustainability, safety, and security of virtual environments now and moving forward. For designers, the promise (and the responsibility) of building a better parallel world lies in not carrying over the inequities and issues that plague us in the present one.