Winner Of ‘SHOWROOM DESIGNER OF THE YEAR’ Award Announced

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The winning designer was Emma Knight of Elliotts Lymington Living Spaces

The winner of the inaugural ‘Sottini Showroom Designer of the Year’ competition has been announced – with the design by Emma Knight of Elliotts Lymington Living Spaces Showroom scooping the £2000 prize after being selected by a judging panel made up of leading industry names. The winning entry was commended for combining style and innovation with excellence and simplistic functionality in its design.

Luxury bathroom brand Sottini ran the competition to find the nation’s pride of showroom design, in partnership with Virtual Worlds, the UK’s leader in CAD technology for the KBB sector. Entrants had to submit their design proposals in a 3D CAD format, using a software package such as Virtual Worlds, to include all key elements of the bathroom and with an ethos on creating a showroom that was inspiring and innovative, but also realistic.

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Judges got to experience the designs in virtual reality using Virtual Worlds 4D Theatre
 It received a great response from the Designer community across the UK, with a final shortlist of 20 entries considered by judges. The judging panel was made up of industry experts from Barratt Homes, Potton Homes, Millwood Designer Homes, Colemore Tang and Conran Design, as well as Virtual Worlds, Ideal Standard and EKBB magazine. The judging took place at The Bathroom Showroom in London with the judges initially looking at the designs on paper before getting to experience the rooms in Virtual Worlds 4D Theatre software. The unique design presentation from Virtual Worlds allowed the judges to explore the rooms in virtual reality to fully appreciate the design, before finally choosing their winner.

Such was the quality of entries in fact, a further two entries received a highly commended accolade: Ben Mellor of Oakland’s (Leicester) and Dean Saoud-Easton of Just Add Water (Kings Cross, London).

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Winner, Emma Knight, with highly commended designers Ben Mellor of Oakland’s (left) and Dean Saoud-Easton of Just Add Water.

Steve Breen, Sottini Sales Director, comments:  “The aim of this competition was to reward and acknowledge the talents of the UK’s finest KBB designers who continue to go the extra mile when it comes to creating truly stunning showrooms which excite, entice and inspire customers.

“We received a fantastic response and I’d like to say thank you to everyone who entered and congratulate the winner, but also add that the standard of designs submitted was testament to the talent and hard work of the designers who dedicate thousands of hours to creating truly stunning showrooms destined to ‘wow’ customers – and in doing so demonstrated the multitude of combinations that our Sottini collection offers.”

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Virtual World’s MD Nathan Maclean presenting the award.

Nathan Maclean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, adds:  “We really do have some of the most hardworking, talented KBB designers here in the UK, so it is great to have an opportunity to give them the credit they deserve.”

Winning bathroom designer, Emma Knight, said: “I love doing what I do, so I am absolutely thrilled to have won this award and really enjoyed creating the design for the competition.

“The split levels allow the stylish products to stand out against a stunning back drop, as well as increasing the sense of space – I can imagine relaxing for hours in this bathroom!

“My manager, Andrew, gives me great support and I’ve learnt so much from him. Winning this award has given me inspiration and increased confidence to do more fabulous designs for our customers at Elliotts Living Spaces.”

Northern Heights for Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds is strengthening its presence in the market place yet again by adding a new regional sales executive to its busy team.

Matthew Froggatt has joined the firm, which develops market-leading 3D & 4D Design software for the KBB industry, to raise awareness of the product and drive sales in the business across the north of England.

IMG_0043 Matthew has six years’ experience working in the home improvement industry. He joins the team from Homebase in Bolton where he has been project managing, remodelling and helping with the designs and layouts for his customers’ homes.

Nathan MacLean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Matthew to the team. His work within the retail and KBB sector has given him a wealth of knowledge in the industry and he has an innate understanding about Virtual World’s and what we are about.

Matthew’s knowledge around technology and design will allow us to continue to grow and develop our business, and ensure many more customers are able to take advantage of Virtual Worlds’ design packages when they visit retailers, thereby allowing them to create their dream kitchen or bathroom.”

For more information on Virtual Worlds, please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk.

First Impressions of the New 4D CAD Experience for Showrooms

A new CAD consumer experience is being rolled-out by Logicom, which could significantly change the way retailers sell.   Launched at the May Design Series, Virtual Worlds 4D proved a popular attraction for visitors who queued up to don the futuristic headset and experience a 4D world. One or two sceptics suggested it was a techie gimmick, whereas most thought it could transform the showroom experience and prove an exciting new selling tool.  The first installations are completed and the early indications are that this latest innovation could be a game changer.

The technology

Virtual Worlds 4D is an adjunct to the popular Virtual Worlds Professional 3D interactive CAD software. Key to the technology is the Virtual Worlds unique interactive platform and the advanced, simulating headset. When worn by the customer, it places them centre stage, in the designed space. Look down and the customer sees an avatar of themselves, sitting in their new room.

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Designs in Virtual Worlds 4D appear with exceptionally realistic depth, scale and parallax, made possible by Virtual Worlds’ unique 3D modelling. Users of 4D have access to all the current product catalogues of a vast choice of KBB manufacturers’ brands. Each manufacturer has worked closely with Virtual Worlds to ensure their product collections are accurately replicated in 3D format and update their catalogues regularly.

In 4D the 110 degree viewing angle places the customer directly in the room rather than looking in through a screen. The response to eye movement is immediate, facilitating 360 degree head-tracking and interaction with moving elements of the room, including opening cupboards, looking inside drawers and stepping into showers.

A first for the KBB sector, Virtual Worlds 4D claims to deliver a ground-breaking, virtual reality and interactive buying experience, which is compelling and optimises the sales potential of excellent design.

Subscription based

Under a subscription known as Virtual Worlds One, Virtual Worlds 4D is bundled together with Virtual Worlds Professional interactive 3D CAD software, its Viewer App, 2D Planning and Pricing Module. The software specialist Logicom is behind Virtual Worlds and it is understood that more innovations are currently in development, which will be made available to all subscribers.

A unique showroom experience

Reese James is one of the first retailers to install 4D. Owned and managed by Nigel Mason, the company has a showroom located in Shirley, near Solihull. A hot spot for kitchen and bathroom showrooms, Reese James has three competitors within a five minute walk. Working in such close proximity to other kitchen and bathroom businesses is a key reason Mason was eager to sign up to the 4D package, as he explains.

“Our whole approach is to offer the consumer a unique and outstanding experience from beginning to end. Having seen the 4D demo, I was sold hook, line and sinker. I knew our customers would be wowed and I wanted it immediately for our showroom. This is a major, major way that we are different from the guys down the road.

Nigel Mason of Reese James with customer using Virtual Worlds 4D lr

On the day the software was installed Mason and his staff demonstrated its capabilities to a steady stream of staff from neighbouring businesses, intrigued by the experience. “It was comical, we’d complete one demo and another person would pop in saying they’d heard our goggles were amazing and could they have a go. We were the talk of the area and the experience spread by word of mouth, within hours. It made us begin to realise what a powerful marketing tool this was going to be.”

The showroom is split 50:50 between bathroom and kitchen settings with Rotpunkt, Dornbracht and Laufen products on prominent display. Mason considers the technologically advanced 4D is in keeping with these brands and the company’s upmarket and forward-looking image: “I want customers to enter our showroom and be so impressed with what they see and the shopping experience we promise that they commit without delay. For us 4D is instrumental in achieving this”.

Like Mason, Derek Waddington owner of Broadway Bathrooms in Putney, London was immediately excited by the whole concept of 4D: “I’ve used Virtual Worlds for five years now and love it. When I saw the 4D demonstration, I immediately thought it was for us. It’s an additional investment but our showroom is not that large and needs to work hard for us – I feel 4D will really help”.

Pre-empts installation issues

It is early days for 4D and Mason is the first to admit that he and his staff are still honing their sales pitch, when it comes to introducing consumers to it. His commitment to the technology is such that all potential customers are given a brief demonstration of the ability of the “goggles”, as he refers to the headset, at preliminary discussions and visits to the showroom. “We show them how their kitchen or bathroom design will be visualised, how it will appear through the goggles and the outstanding level of detail they will be able to experience. So far each one has been amazed.  You can hear some of them leaving the showroom still excitedly talking about it. This is a major, major tool for us. We plan to use 4D with as many people as possible.”

Resolves spacial awareness

One of the key features of the technology is that the customer experiences their kitchen or bathroom as though they were walking through it in real life. The realism is impressive, so much so that both Waddington and Mason report that 4D provides the spacial awareness which so many customers lack.

Customer using 4D at James Reese lr

“Most customers struggle to grasp an overhead, 3D plan or flat render – however smart it looks. We find the 4D experience overcomes this problem entirely. They feel physically in the room and so they can see exactly how much space there is between the island units and the oven or the drawers fully extended and whether there is sufficient space for their requirements. It avoids all sorts of potential problems”, explains Mason.

Waddington agrees: “We use Virtual Worlds a lot in the showroom as it is real time and in 3D. Customers can relate to what they are seeing − they really get involved with the design. I anticipate 4D is gong to be that much better”.

As the customer physically experiences the room via the headset in 4D, the designer views the same design on a screen, only in 3D format. If required, adjustments to the design can be made and the customer can view the changes immediately. There is no additional work involved for the designer to go from standard 3D interactive stage to showing the customer the design in 4D.

Waddington thinks the consumer experience of 4D could negate the requirement for producing high resolution renders entirely: “High quality rendering is slow and dated; I think there will be no need once the consumer has seen their design through the goggles – we’ll be talking to them at an entirely different level”.

Design consultation fee potential

Installation of the new CAD technology has also made both retailers start to re-evaluate their approach to charging for design consultations. Like so many kitchen and bathroom retailers, Reese James does not currently charge for designs and Broadway Bathrooms do so rarely, both nervous of deterring potential clients. However, the introduction of the 4D experience is making them question this approach. Mason explains his thinking: “If you can bolt together an impressive showroom with strong design, personal service and add the wow factor of Virtual Worlds 4D experience, I am beginning to think a consultation fee could be feasible”.

Now that would be a game changer.

(Published in KBB Review, September 2015 edition, page 49.)

New version of Virtual Worlds released!

Virtual Worlds Transforms CAD with New Rapid Rendering

The latest generation of Virtual Worlds Professional (5.9) has been launched (January 2015); it delivers higher quality photo-realistic renders, 25% faster than ever before. The significant advances have been introduced to save designers and retailers time and further improve customers’ quote to order conversions.

A new facility using ‘layers’ has also been introduced to the latest Virtual Worlds, which impacts the 2D and 3D plan formats.  When presenting options to a client, designers can now rapidly flick between alternative 3D layouts, highlighting style, colour and budget options. At 2D level, specific dimensions can now be isolated, which will help reduce installation errors.

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Showing off the new rapid rendering with a Roman shower-room

Nathan MacLean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom explains the driving force behind the latest generation of Virtual Worlds Professional: “As a former KBB designer and a CAD user myself, I understand the importance of meeting mainstream expectations and delivering exciting new and optional functionality for advanced users, all at ever-increasing speeds. Our development team works closely with CAD users and we are already looking ahead to later in the year when we anticipate launching an impressive real-time lighting option, for added impact at presentation stage”.

The new Virtual Worlds Professional is available free of charge to current users, along with the latest new product catalogues from leading bathroom, kitchen and bedroom manufacturers.  Virtual Worlds supports its CAD software with a comprehensive training programme and a manned, technical hotline for answering any individual queries.

For further information T: 01908 663848  www.virtualworlds.co.uk

Logicom does BBC Children in Need

On Monday 17th November we went from your every day office workers to becoming our very own heroes to raise money for the great charity, BBC Children in Need. We were supported in our efforts by the wonderful Admiral Costumes in Newton Longville who provided many fancy dress costumes to ensure we all looked the part.

Logicom to the rescue!

Not only did we transform into heroes but we also hosted a hero themed bake off competition! Lots of scrummy cakes were baked and consumed leaving us all dreading the scales but definitely worth it as we raised £100.90 by eating cake alone! Not bad for a day’s work.

To encourage donations from customers, we offered one lucky donator the chance to win a year’s rental of a Virtual Worlds licence as part of a prize draw for all those donating through our Just Giving webpage. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all who donated and special congratulations to our prize draw winner, Plumbrite in Suffolk.

We had great fun organising this event and appreciate all of the support we’ve received, it’s been a great success and so far we’ve raised a total of £431.90!

If you’ve not already made a donation, don’t panic! Our Just Giving page; www.justgiving.com/Logicom is still open so please dig deep and let’s help the Children in Need.