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CGI in Product designing for Interiors

CGI in Product Designning for Interiors
A CGI rendering of an interior space.

Introduction
Computer-generated imagery or “CGI”, as it is commonly known, is all around us. About 40 years ago, computer software began replacing paper, pen, and transparencies in engineering and architecture firms. With faster, cheaper computers, the first 3D modeling software emerged. However, this was still largely used for design, engineering, and testing work. In later years, a different kind of 3D modeling specialized in the external form, visuals, and overall “look and feel”, was quickly adopted by consumer product designers, visual artists, video game developers, movie special effects professionals, and others. Today CGI is used commonly to “stage” all sorts of still photos for commercial photography. These “photorealistic” CGI shots make it virtually impossible to tell which parts of the image are photographed and which ones are CGI.

Benefits
The global interior design services industry is estimated at over $250 Billion, growing at over 7% a year. There is a constant demand for improved creativity and constant pressures to reduce cost and business risk. CGI allows companies to streamline their operations, reduce their risks, and create more options to engage with consumers. Here are a few benefits that CGI brings to interior design product companies:

  1. Cost reduction: CGI allows product designers to simulate a large variety of products and experiment with new designs. Combined with Cloud architecture, CGI also allows global teams to collaborate, helping companies move more time-consuming processes to cheaper locations without sacrificing quality. CGI is faster than actually building miniatures etc., which is why the latter have all but disappeared in mainstream product design life cycles.
  2. Better sales engagement: From website to eCommerce marketplaces, CGI product inventories are easier to manage, manipulate, upgrade and re-use. And as opposed to product photography, no actual physical inventory needs to be created to display a portfolio of offerings. Modern software sophistication lets potential clients explore the effects of light, color, and many different options. 3D modeling-specific features like the ability to view products from all angles, see interiors/cut-outs, or assembly “blow-ups” can be invaluable during client pitches to potential customers in hospitality or real estate. CGI products can also easily be “placed” within “staged” scenes to showcase simulated use cases for digital or physical marketing material.
  3. Experience options: Another advantage of CGI in terms of customer engagement is its suitability to augmented reality options. AR for user experience (AR for UX) is increasingly being offered by companies like Ikea and others to build eCommerce-centric sales channels. AR in smartphones is also no longer just limited to premium devices, as platforms like Facebook look to offer augmented reality in an “as a service” format.

While this was already true in the pre-pandemic world, 2021 and beyond will see consumers using AR to see product fit in real-world surroundings for their existing or prospective homes to a much more expanded level.

How to Get Started with CGI Product Design for Interiors
There are many technologies to create and deploy CGI assets, depending on the use cases. Therefore, start by deciding the end-use of the asset. Here are a few questions to answer:

  1. Will the CGI product be used statically on a website or printed advertisement, or will it be interactive, allowing zooming in/out, rotating, and customizing size, shape, color, etc.
  2. Will it be used standalone or as part of a virtual staging?
  3. Will you use it to make a product video with/without live models?
  4. Will it be consumed in a small size / low bandwidth scenario?
  5. Will you deploy it on third-party eCommerce marketplaces?
  6. Will it be used in a Virtual Reality or Mixed Reality environment?
  7. Does it need to be photorealistic?

Remember, the greater the detail needed, the heavier the file, and the higher the cost to create and store. Furthermore, third-party sites often have specific restrictions on file size, viewing angles, etc. Therefore, decide whether you need small, “good enough” models that won’t overload your website or whether you want that ultra-fine detail for your premium product that will create a mind-blowing user experience!

Once you have decided on one or more end uses, determine whether you will build and deploy the CGI assets in-house or use a vendor. While in-house teams create internal capability, they can be cost drains that distract you from your main business. If you decide to use a vendor, make sure the vendor has sufficient experience in your industry, can give you a predictable cost and time estimate, and has a good reputation for quality, reliability, and stability.

Larger vendors like Pikspire remove the hassle of micro-managing project builds. They can offer end-to-end turnkey services from project consulting to asset storage and deployment or give you just what you ask for in any size, volume, and time constraints you might have. The beauty of large, reliable vendors is the standardization- almost everything is predictable, which can be a massive boon to your project management. Plus, they work on a large number of projects so that they won’t be overwhelmed by almost any request. Capacity is never an issue, and as they are built to be sustainable operations, they often give the best per-unit prices around. Generally, they also offer sufficient customization for specific project workflow requests, provided they have an assurance of volume.

Conclusion
CGI in product design is time-tested. Its inherent advantages over other approaches, combined with changing consumer buying behavior, accelerated by safety concerns in the post-pandemic world, and easy asset management/deployment workflows, make CGI product design for interiors a winning option for all modern product designers. When choosing to “go CGI”, remember to choose a partner that can help guide you through the whole process professionally and efficiently, so you can concentrate on creating and selling your products!

Bibliography

  1. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/09/10/2091459/0/en/Global-Interior-Design-Services-Industry.html
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337160678_User_Experience_Design_With_Augmented_Reality_AR
  3. https://sparkar.facebook.com/ar-studio/