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

Dynamic Duo Join Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds is continuing to grow with the addition of two new regional sales representatives to its busy team.

Miles Maunganidze and Brandon Kwesiga have joined the firm to help drive sales of its market-leading 3D & 4D Design software and raise awareness of the product in businesses across the south of England, the Midlands and Wales.

New sales representative for Virtual Worlds 3d design software
Brandon will cover London and the South East regions.

Brandon will be covering London and the South East of England and has 10 years’ experience in the bathroom industry since first joining the Bathstore as a sales consultant in 2006. He most recently worked at bathroom supplier Farmiloe where he was the company’s brand manager, having been promoted from the position of business development manager earlier in 2016.

New sales representative for Virtual Worlds design software.
Miles will cover the Midlands and South West regions.

With an equally impressive retail background, Miles will be bringing a fresh perspective to Virtual Worlds, following a successful career in retail store management including spells at House of Fraser and Superdry.

With a business management degree from Brunel University, he will be able to use his customer experience skills to get retailers on board whilst managing sales across the Midlands, South West and Wales.

Nathan MacLean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “We’re delighted to welcome both Miles and Brandon to the team. We’re sure they will both prove to be a real asset to the business in the months and years ahead.

“Having two additional experienced sales representatives in our team 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 package when they visit retailers and create their dream kitchen or bathroom.”

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

Tissino Catalogue

Great news! The brand new Tissino catalogue is available to download from the Virtual Worlds user centre. This catalogue contains a wide range of sanitaryware, furniture, radiators, taps, showers, enclosures, trays, tiles and accessories available in the extensive Tissino product range. The Tissino offering is complemented by a customised version of our online planner system, accessible from the Tissino website. Check it out now at www.tissino.co.uk and for further information on how you too can benefit from the 3d Planner on your website, call our sales team on 01908663848.

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

The future of CAD for the KBB sector

The Designer ran a great article about CAD in their November issue.  They asked the various CAD companies, including our Mike Vinten, what the future had in store for the KBB sector.

It was that that many of our competitors predicted tools that Virtual Worlds already provides!  Good to know we are ahead of the game.  And there are even more developments just around the corner. 

3D interactive CAD design – available now

The article quoted comments from CAD providers about what CAD would be like in the future : “interactive tools”, “using software online” to “collaborate” with the consumer on designs ,  the concept of  “walking round” a design before you buy, interacting with other design software  and the importance of realistic visual were all mentioned…they ought to try out Virtual Worlds Professional.  These are all standard to the latest 5.8 package www.virtualworlds.co.uk Available NOW!

Collaborative online design with the customer – available now

We agree that a strong on-line design capability will be key for some customers…that is why we are already working with various customers, customising our 2D/3D Planner www.virtualworlds.co.uk to their particular requirements.  For those retailers who want to give their customers scope to outline their own design ideas, before passing them over to a professional, showroom designer to develop into a feasible KBB design, then this software is hugely powerful and user- friendly.  For some we even integrate with pricing, checkout and parts list – all online.

Realistic visuals you can almost touch – available now

Some of our competitors do not seem to rate their own CAD particularly highly! However, from our retailer user comments, it is apparent that Virtual Worlds CAD is so realistic and the 3D interactive facility so engaging, that Designers are now able to create a sense of the ambience in a customer’s kitchen or bathroom, not just fantastic visuals.  The software tools are there to be used.

What next for Virtual Worlds CAD?

Apps, more online solutions… the developers here at Logicom are way ahead. Watch out!

Award Winning Designer is a Virtual Worlds Fan

Monita CheungMonita Cheung and her team of designers use Virtual Worlds software to create amazing designs for C.P. Hart clients.

”I enjoy using Virtual Worlds to create photorealistic 3D images. The software allows you to create your own products and tile templates if necessary and the fast and efficient features make my life easier with the large amount of retail projects I work on day in and day out. I love the fact you can adjust the lighting very easily and that rendering time is very quick.”

Having very recently featured in Kitchens, Bedrooms & Bathrooms Magazine with her bathroom designs created using Virtual Worlds, we caught up with Monita to find out more about her style and inspiration.

 

Background

Monita graduated from Middlesex University with a BA (hons) Product Design degree and came across C.P. Hart whilst searching for a summer placement during her second year of studying. Her eight-week placement was extended to 10 and then to 12 weeks. Monita worked part time for C.P. Hart during her last year of university and upon graduation was offered a Junior Designer position at the Waterloo showroom. Having won the KBB Young Designer Award she has also been a finalist for the Designer Kitchen&Bathroom Award. She is delighted to work at C.P. Hart.

 

 

 

 

How would you describe your style?

“I’m certainly a more contemporary styled woman with the love for minimal, bold architectural lines with hints of warmth using different materials and textures. Maybe it’s within my Chinese roots but I love the oriental styles with the sense of peace and well balanced feng shui in the room”.

How do you approach a new design?

“I start by spending a good amount of time getting to understand my client, it is by far the most important thing to do. To understand what style they are searching for and how they will be using the bathroom is very important. The great thing about my job is that I get the opportunity to visit my clients in their home which is the best method of finding out their styles and their way of living. If the option of visiting their home was not available then I would invite my client into our Waterloo flagship store to walk through the showroom and discuss what sort of style they will be wanting”.

What current trends are inspiring your designs?

“I love using stone fronted drawer units within my designs. It provides a sharpness to the product edge that shows the skill of the manufacturer and this creates a high quality expectation for the rest of the room to follow. Very clever wood effect porcelain tiles are very on trend too. There are many available out there but if you manage to find a very high quality wood effect tile it will help to add all the characteristics of a real wood floor with the warmth of the colour but becomes very practical to use for the bathroom areas. Having recently returned from the Cersaie show in Bologna, Italy, it has become apparent that warm stone units and wooden floor tiles are very hot on trend”.

What has been your biggest design challenge to date?

“I can think of a few. One of the most common ones are when I have been given the loft bathroom space to redesign where the slopes are extremely low and I am working with many different angles and the client is wanting a large shower area with a freestanding bath. Another one is having to work with an octagon shaped shower area with slopes forming into the centre of the room. I had to liaise with my installer several times to make sure the shower area will be designed and fitted to perfection. My tip on dealing with situations like these is to double check that everything is what it seems to be, then only to triple check it with possible worst case scenario options”.

Do you have a design icon?

“Since I was 12 I have been in love with Tom Dixon’s S Chair, 1988, steel and wicker. At that age, I promised myself that I would work very hard in life so that eventually I will get to purchase this beautiful chair for my beautiful home and have it in my beautiful living room to admire and to be in awe of”.

What is your own home like?

“I’m currently living with my fiancé in a good sized apartment with a great view of Canary Wharf. It’s a very clean, modern and warm textured apartment where you can really indulge in a glass of wine with friends around the sofa area. The two bathrooms that we have were designed by ourselves and it suits our busy lifestyle very well with a very large shower enclosure fitted with ambient lighting”.

Describe your perfect room, fictional or otherwise?

“Hmm, my perfect room?…Think it’s got to be a fictional one and I will need to add all sorts of characteristics in there…Maybe it could include a large window overlooking a beautiful red sunset, a huge fire pit for the marshmallows, a brazing hearth to create my silver jewellery, a skilled chef on demand for cooking my seafood on a teppanyaki and a large cloud sofa for my friends and family to enjoy their dinner feast”.

Look out for further designs from Monita in future Virtual Worlds posts!

Want to be a Virtual Worlds Featured Designer? Contact Jackie – jackie.bryce@virtualworlds.co.uk

www.virtualworlds.co.uk

3D Video fly-through bringing designs to life!

InFrameKitchen.html

This video fly-through depicting an in-frame Kitchen design was created using the visionary Virtual Worlds’ 3D Interactive Software and its Generic Kitchens catalogue. The 3D aspect and detailing give the user a real-time taste of how their chosen units and furnishings work together whilst reflections and lighting bring their design to life.

In this case DuPont Corian Solid Surface Worktops have been selected to compliment the finish of the chosen unit, sofas and blinds come from our Generic Soft Furnishings catalogue with extensive fabric swatch application and Porcelanosa ceramic tiles in a half-bond pattern decorate the floor space to complete the overall look.

With Virtual Worlds Professional design meets real life to give the user a truly personal and unique experience.

All catalogues and video fly-through functionality are included in Virtual Worlds Professional.

And First Prize goes to…..

With all the trade mags and their KBB Birmingham ‘Review’ issues hitting our doormats over the last few weeks or so – here at Virtual Worlds, our thoughts have actually turned to the KBB Awards!

Now, don’t get us wrong – we had a pretty amazing time exhibiting at the NEC this year and we have been rushed off our feet ever since – which is simply fantastic! But… and I pause after this because… the KBB Awards were quite ‘something else’ for Virtual Worlds! We were utterly thrilled to have discovered we had so many of our Virtual Worlds users actually chosen as finalists and to even have a category winner!!

The Bathroom Company in Perth…

…and they went home with the coveted prize of Bathroom Retailer of the Year!

But not only did a Virtual Worlds user snatch the top spot, we also had Napier Bathrooms & Interiors in Edinburgh and PHS Bathrooms from Milton Keynes (the only category finalists in England) take two of the Runner Up places. But it didn’t stop there… The Bathroom Company [Perth] were also awarded Runner Up position for Bathroom Showroom of the Year.

Now, you could be mistaken for thinking this was quite enough glory for Virtual Worlds to revel in, but you would be wrong! The awards kept coming… Hobson’s Choice in Swindon, went home with a Runner Up award for Kitchen Designer of the Year. Catriona Lock from Soak in Style of Maidenhead, narrowly missed top prize for Bathroom Designer of the Year (project over £25,000) with a Runner Up place. And Nigel Heron Kitchens & Bathrooms of Leamington Spa, also snatched Runner Up for Bathroom Customer Service of the Year.

Phew… what a night!!

These Virtual Worlds users are not only at the top of their game, but know part of their success is gained through providing a great design service. By choosing to use Virtual Worlds’ software day to day as part of their design experience, they have proven beyond doubt they are up there with the best – each providing an exceptional level of service to clients. We are very proud indeed, to have played a part in their achievements and only hope we can continue to help them add value to their business!

Well done everyone!

Virtual Worlds Sales: 01908 663848

www.virtualworlds.co.uk

Well… KBB Show is over for yet another year!

And what a fantastic show it was as well and it all started off the week before, with the stand build!

From little acorns…

Boxes and rubbish everywhere… but the boys (Nick & Paul) worked really hard painting and drilling, until the stage was finally ready for us to dress – the best part! We had wanted something a little different from all the other stands and opted for a lovely room set – so we got busy with sofas, table, cabinets and picture frames. Although we suffered with a few stiff backs and aching joints, we could finally see some light at the end of the tunnel! And with a quick hoover and a last tweak, we were almost ready for the gates to open…

We were particularly proud of the hanging pictures! Our modelling team had generated some fabulous images for us to use and showcase the Virtual Worlds software. Everyone who visted the stand over the four days agreed wholeheartedly, they all looked simply stunning on the wall!

So for those that couldn’t make the show, here are a few of those images…

A beautiful dresser from Mereway Kitchens – product catalogue available in Virtual Worlds

And two fabulous images showing Virtual Worlds’ versatility within rooms such as the lounge and bedroom…

And with all our hard work now in place – all that was left was to be ready for Sunday morning. Before we knew it, the numbers of visitors to our stand began to grow – interest in Virtual Worlds was really promising and the day just flew by! Phew! Monday was much the same, with lots of new enquiries, plus many of our software users popping onto the stand for a natter.

With a change of staff for Tuesday and Wednesday, it was time to take a mooch around the show. Started off nicely with a lovely invite to a champagne reception and great talks by some very inspiring architects (sponsored by BD Online) – in particular Patrick Reardon from ReardonSmith Architects. Very much enjoyed! Then met with all our favourite advertisers, eased along with a much appreciated mojito from Luke Sutton – mobile cocktail barman from Speak Easy Bars very kindly hosted by Cosentino on their ‘always busy’ stand.

Wednesday was equally enjoyable (we may have sneaked another mojito) and continued to be busy, busy, busy – met with some really lovely people: manufacturers, retailers/designers, and interior designers. Saw some wonderful stands and took loads of orders for Virtual Worlds! What could be better! ;-)

There are some final images I just had to add (personal favourites) from a stand I visited at the show with really eyecatching baths, by the Mosaic Bath Company – would really love the yellow one in my bathroom – lush!

    

How great would these baths look in a Virtual Worlds product catalogue!

So.. to round up for KBB Birmingham 2012 – a great time was indeed had by all! But if you missed our stand and would like to know more about Virtual Worlds’ design software, then why not drop us an email at: sales@virtualworlds.co.uk or if you prefer to chat on the phone, call to speak to one of our sales team on: 01908 663848 – they’re a very friendly bunch!

Here’s to KBB 2013

www.virtualworlds.co.uk