The future's not just bright, it's beautiful. How do we know? Because we've been there. And to prove it, our October issue reveals images of models clad in Gucci, DKNY and Ferragamo, surrounded by furnishings from the likes of Zanotta, in a beautiful Argentinian resort called Valle de Uco, which hasn't even been built.
This feat of time travel came courtesy of Ben Davies and Jon Hey, of digital design studio, The Neighbourhood. When we caught sight of the extraordinary, hyper-real visuals they created for the resort's architects, Waldo Works, this Valle de Uco of the future (2014 to be precise) seemed a suitably exclusive set for a Wallpaper* interiors story. Into its imagined rooms and terraces, we inserted the latest Poggenpohl kitchen, furniture and models with, what appears, remarkable ease.
the neighbourhood
Watch the film to see how the scenes came to life
But the hard graft was left to The Neighbourhood. 'The main tool is a programme called 3D Studio Max,' explains Davies. 'It's a 3D animation package used for Hollywood film post-production all the way down to design visualisation. It allows us to build the model and apply textures. Plus, we also use Photoshop.'
But, he maintains, while the software has been available for ten years, it's all in how you use it. 'It's increasingly easy to visualise something, but we want to create atmosphere and narrative. It's akin to the difference between taking a snap on your phone and using a professional photographer. The hard part is in the artistry. We place a lot of emphasis on art direction.'
As Davies says, ubiquitous identikit architectural visualisation is becoming fast outmoded. 'I think we're bored with the same cut-out people, the same blandly sunny days, where people have been photographed in Majorca and transported digitally to a site in Birmingham. It's about storytelling.' And it's fast catching on; The Neighbourhood counts among its clients Urban Splash, MAKE and Argent.
Not that these brilliantly imagined worlds are confined to architecture; The Neighbourhood has worked on advertising for Sony, and is currently building a multi-sensory booking-in experience for Heston Blumenthal's diners. But, says Davies: 'it's more about the ideas than the software tools. What's exciting is the suspense of belief. Anything is possible - we're not constrained by the real world. The tools are limited only by the imagination.'