From Virtual to Reality

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Ten years ago the virtual reality (VR) concept would render images of cheesy 80’s Sci-Fi’s and nascent gaming technology, appearing more like a fantasy for technologists with little bearing in the real world.

That is, of course, until now. Today, VR is not so much creeping but rather leaping into the mainstream.

Only last year we saw Oculus, Samsung and Sony get seriously big on VR, keenly competing to achieve media share for their latest headsets and this trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

But, you may ask, can VR really have a tangible business impact in the KBB world? The answer is irrevocably yes, and for those retailers who aren’t already using it the (not so virtual) reality is that it really is no longer a case of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’…..

More in Store

For the large part, VR allows KBB retainers to create that all-important USP in what, with the dominance of e-commerce, has become a keenly competitive market.

Today’s abundance of online KBB retailers, many of which offer a fast delivery and cheap prices, mean it can be all too tempting for consumers to buy their kitchen or bathroom on the Internet from the comfort of their home.

This, in turn, has put increased pressure on traditional retailers to create a 4D Plus imagetangible differentiation to win business. This is clearly reflected in the latest Mintel report on the bathroom sector which concurs ‘Retailers need to build a wide suite of skills to service the complex requirements of a bathroom make-over – services will become increasingly sophisticated, with branded elements to add reassurance for shoppers.’1

Here, the remit then is about thinking outside the box and applying the use of the technology to a retail advantage: cue the VR revolution.

The integration of VR with design consultancy quite simply takes the customer experience to another level. Virtual Worlds’ 4D CAD technology, for example, delivers high quality, virtual reality and an interactive buying experience via a futuristic headset whereby users can realise a 4D simulation of physically being in their dream kitchen or bathroom design.

Sitting comfortably in their chair complete with an avatar (which is even matched with appearance) they can experience every socket, every stitch, each and every fine detail of their concept and how it may look and feel in real-time. Want to check how much space is between the island unit and the oven? Check. Extend drawers to ensure sufficient storage? Check. Operate functional fittings such as magic corner units? Check.

This digital transformation of blended reality experience with product design takes the ‘try before you buy’ concept to whole new level and it is a very powerful business tool.

From our experience, most consumers will struggle to grasp an overhead, 3D plan or flat render, however realistic it looks, yet our 4D experience negates this problem entirely by allowing designers to express their ideas in a precise way that their clients physically experience. It also enables installers to plan work with confidence, knowing the design will work as ‘real’ products have been tried out in the design.

4d KitchenThe result is the end of ‘buyer remorse’. Given that a new bathroom or kitchen is a huge investment for the average consumer, it is, of course, extremely important that they get it right. In this way, it effectively alleviates the fear factor associated to buying these big ticket items – and given the fact that two thirds2 (63%) of shoppers admit they don’t get the best experience online this makes for a very appealing proposition.

Testament to this, here at Virtual Worlds, our customers have reported an average 50 per cent increase in sales conversions since using our CAD technology – with some reporting a conversion rate of 80%.

Future Gazing 

While VR has certainly come a long way in recent years, it really is just beginning.

Having already launched the industry’s first 4D CAD software in 2016, here at Virtual Worlds we are all geared up for the launch of the next generation of product which will truly blur the lines between virtual and reality like never before. And we have lots more in the pipeline.

Indeed, while good customer service and expert design consultancy will always be the pinnacles of success in the KBB world, the blending lines of VR for consumer and enterprise use cannot be ignored. It is the future and what all retailers should be aspiring to in this age of digital transformation.

 Sources

1 http://store.mintel.com/bathrooms-and-bathroom-accessories-uk-august-2013

2 http://www.information-age.com/industry/uk-industry/123459020/two-thirds-shoppers-unhappy-online-customer-experience

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.”

Version 5.10 released

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Virtual Worlds version 5.10 which is available to download now from the user centre.

This new version improves the display of the Virtual Worlds homepage, allowing you to easily define your own text fields, view social media feeds and improve how templates are defined. You can also take advantage of the updated Tile Catalogue Browser interface and the new advanced moulding features which allow for faster application of architraves, skirtings and covings. For those of you using the Virtual Worlds 4D Showroom or the Design Viewer, there are new buttons available to simplify and speed up the process.

 

Not just the best 3D Design Software around…

…and granted, that’s pretty well up there for being more than enough accolade for anyone; but here at Virtual Worlds we have many strings to our bow!

Now, we all love a trade exhibition but stand competition can be pretty tough – so you have to make sure you capture the crowd as they pass by and make your product look the very best it can be. There’s no getting away from it, we live in a time where we all like things ‘instant’ and to truly engage with your audience, your stand must be compelling and attractive to draw in passers by and hopefully, maximise those selling opportunities!

What better way to do that, than with video! People usually like to watch something on a screen, in preference to reading a leaflet or booklet and will respond with much greater force.

Video marketing is becoming increasingly effective as a marketing medium, both online and in an environment like exhibitions. It’s quick and effective and encourages people to engage with your brand by saving them time… and it just so happens, back here at Virtual Worlds HQ, we can help you do just that!

Not only do we produce the ultimate 3D design software for the kbb industry and interior designers, but we have a great Video & Audio Production team who can create and produce a vast range of broadcast quality projects.

With fully equipped in-house facilities, including a video edit suite, HD video camera equipment, ISDN link and a professional sound recording studio! We offer a very cost effective solution to our clients, by having everything under one roof – not only do our audio and video departments work closely, but they also work together with our other creatives; so we can seamlessly integrate sound, video, 3D graphics and animations with your projects.

01908 663848

www.logicom.com

April – New Catalogues Releases & Updates

It’s been a busy month here at Virtual Worlds with many updates and new catalogue releases from our top manufacturers.  Our latest updates are all now available to download from the Virtual Worlds User Centre so don’t delay and download them today and improve your customer offering.
 

New Catalogues


TOTO’s impressive portfolio is featured in this new catalogue including a wide selection of products from TOTO’s ranges of sanitary ware, baths, furniture, taps, showers and accessories.

“TOTO is very pleased to be included in the Virtual Worlds catalogue of products. This is a valuable resource for our retail partners and their designers, helping them to create the perfect TOTO bathroom for each client.”
Mr Sohei Nishida, UK General Manager, TOTO Europe GmbH

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New Product Launch – Don’t just have a bath –  love it… view our new collection of luxury contemporary freestanding baths – lovingly handcrafted using innovative manufacturing techniques and using the finest materials – specified by architects and interior designs and available only through an elite collection of exclusive bathroom retailers.

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The standard catalogue for theshowerlab sees parametrics used for the first time in Virtual Worlds.  This new catalogue includes all of the standard shower enclosures, trays and customisable components in theshowerlab’s product range. Bespoke theshowerlab product catalogues will be available in the future.

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New Versions

Laufen are signed up to the Virtual Worlds subscription service which means their catalogues will be updated regularly on new product releases. Download this update, the first of many, for the complete range of items from the LAUFEN pro, ILBAGNOALESSI one and palace ranges of baths, furniture, sanitaryware, taps, shower fittings, enclosures and trays. 

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Includes many new collections of tiles from the Dune tile range giving you a greater selection of choice when designing. Additional Dune product updates will be available in the future.

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Featuring the Drayton, Mozzano and Radford ranges of sanitaryware and baths.  This newly updated version also includes the Staffordshire range of taps and brassware and adds new items to the Tubo range of taps and brassware.
 

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Generic Bathrooms
A great selection of generic sanitaryware, furniture, radiators, taps, showers and accessories including some new and more modern additions.  This catalogue provides everything needed to quickly test your bathroom design concepts before replacing the generic items with branded products.  The sanitaryware has most items in both traditional and contemporary styles, with every product type available in all configurations!
You can find it in the Generic section within the Catalogues in the Virtual Worlds User Centre.

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For updates on all of our latest releases keep an eye on our website news section at www.virtualworlds.co.uk or on Twitter and Facebook.

Virtual Worlds Support Team
Helping you design better!

Virtual Worlds Lights up TOTO with First CAD Catalogue for UK

TOTO has joined forces with Virtual Worlds, to make its cutting-edge bathroom ranges available for the first time to UK retailers and designers, on a leading UK CAD system.  Virtual Worlds Professional from Logicom is the sophisticated, 3D interactive CAD software, used by thousands of designers in the UK.

This strategic alliance by the major Japanese manufacturer, renowned for its design and technological innovation, and Virtual Worlds creator of the pioneering KBB CAD system, is important to TOTO’s continued success, as explained by UK General Manager, Mr. Sohei Nishida: “This is a valuable resource for our retail partners and their designers, helping them to create the perfect TOTO bathroom for each client.”

The TOTO product catalogues have just gone live on the Virtual Worlds Professional software and are available free of charge to all its licensees.  Capturing the essence of TOTO’s cutting-edge product designs was critical and Virtual Worlds developed new modelling techniques, including a realistic way to reflect TOTO’s unique Luminist material, which can be back lit in basins and baths.

Mr Masahiro Maruhashi, Product Promotion Department Manager, TOTO Europe GmbH is delighted with the result: “This is an impressive tool that gives our customers and their consultants the ability to try out different TOTO products at the planning stage and produce realistic views of their creative concepts.”  

Monita Cheung, Designer at C P Hart, the designer bathroom retailer, is likewise enthusiastic: ‘Virtual Worlds is an essential design tool for C.P. Hart. We’re delighted that TOTO, one of our best-selling brands, is now included on our Virtual Worlds program. The TOTO range is such a unique looking product, with great detail, that we really struggled to find another item to use in place of this on our 3D visuals. Now, we can create impressive customer visuals, which truly represent our design concepts and provide a true photorealistic image for our clients”.

JJO Looks to an Interactive 3D Future with CAD Deal with Virtual Worlds

JJO, the UK’s leading manufacturer of fitted kitchens, has announced that for the first time its kitchens, bathroom and bedroom furniture will be available in a 3D and interactive format on CAD software. The company has completed a deal with CAD specialist Logicom, which will see JJO’s entire portfolio featured on the latest Virtual Worlds Professional’s software, delivering far more than standard CAD platforms.

John Pollitt, Sales Director at JJO says the decision to work with Logicom is consistent with JJO’s on-going strategy to invest in the latest design and technology: “Virtual Worlds by Logicom is an award winning CAD system, increasingly recognised for its success in improving retailers’ sales. I am confident that our relationship with Virtual Worlds will assist JJO retailers to grow their businesses, thanks to the system’s unique ability to produce, at speed, inspirational room sets, whilst allowing designers to demonstrate their customer’s kitchen in an appealing and persuasive, interactive 3D format ”.

JJO’s first catalogues, Colonial and Eco kitchen collections, have just gone live to dealers signed up to Virtual Worlds Professional and these will be followed by the launch of JJO’s Eco Bathroom and Colonial Bedroom collections, by mid 2013.

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

March 2013 – New Catalogues & Releases

Virtual Worlds continue to develop our offer to users through constant updates and new catalogue releases from top manufacturers.  Our latest updates are all now available to download from the Virtual Worlds User Centre.  It has come to our attention that some of our users have not been receiving our previous catalogue release notifications, therefore we wanted to confirm this year’s new realeases to date.

New Catalogues

  • J & J Ormerod Colonial Kitchens and Eco Kitchens – include the entire range of units and door styles available in the Colonial Kitchens and Eco Kitchens product ranges. Please note that these catalogues are password protected for Virtual Worlds Kitchen Users.

New Versions

  • Hansgrohe – including catalogues for the EcoStat and Axor Starck Organic ranges of brassware and showers. 
  • Dansani – includes the complete set of furniture, worktops, vanity basins and accessories from the new Calidris range and all of the latest furniture and sanitaryware from the Luna, Mido and Zaro ranges. The catalogue is password protected for Dansani retailers. 
  • Simspons Shower Enclosures - including the Elite range, as well as additions to the Ten, Design and Edge ranges. 
  • Ideal Standard Taps Showers & Wastes – this includes taps, showers and wastes from the Academy, Active, Alto, Ceraplan SL, Cone, Elements and Kingston ranges. Additional updates to the catalogue will be available in the future. 
  • JIS Europe – includes the Fletching and Steyning ranges of radiators. 
  • Radox - including the Premiere and Premiere XL ranges of towel radiators as well as many new designer radiators.
  • Bisque – includes new radiators from the Chime, Orbit, Gio and Olga ranges, and new towel rails from the Classic Towel Radiators range.
  • Omega – includes Chippendale, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Sheraton catalogues.
  • Bauhaus Furniture – now contains the Linea and Celeste furniture ranges, as well as new mirrors for the Essence, Edge and Elite ranges.
    The sanitaryware catalogue now contains the Linea and Celeste ranges, the new Laguna basin, and new sanitaryware for the Design, Touch and Stream ranges

For updates on all of our latest releases keep an eye on our website news section at www.virtualworlds.co.uk or on Twitter and Facebook.

Virtual Worlds Support Team
Helping you design better!

BKU – This years highs and predictions for 2013

Discover Your Design Potential with Virtual Worlds

We were thrilled to see this adventurous image from Bernard Griffiths of BMG Designs which adds Hollywood glamour to a range cooker by placing it on the set of an Indiana Jones movie.

The sense of finding the hidden treasure is achieved using subtle lighting that draws you past the almost shimmering shadow of Professor Jones at the doorway onto the glistening product itself. The craftsmanship of the Egyptian artists and stonemasons is brought to life by the use of modern Virtual Worlds “bump maps” to enhance the surfaces. You can almost feel the heat from the Sun as well as the oven – making this one hot image!

We await the sequel but, in the meantime, we’d like to hear your suggestions for a witty caption to the image.

Thank you Bernard for such an imaginative image!  Bernard Griffiths – bmg.designs@btinternet.com

Are you getting the most from your Virtual Worlds Software? Want to learn how to add the “wow” factor to your designs? Contact Virtual Worlds sales@virtualworlds.co.uk to find out more about the features available within your current software package.

www.virtualworlds.co.uk