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Design: The X-factor in the evolving world of Metaverse and NFTs’s previous pieces gave you deeper insights into multiple aspects of Metaverse and NFT. With this one, we take a deep dive into the world of design, which, in a way, is one of the most significant contributors to the expanding world of metaverse

Ever thought of owning your college degree or your identity proof or any important document in the digital format? That too in such a way that they are duly verified, secure, with no scope of duplication and shall remain exclusively with you? Maybe in the form of a Non-Fungible Token (NFT)?  

Yes! That’s where the digital world is heading.  

Kurnal Rawat

“NFT as an art is now becoming popular but NFT as a technology is going to be used quite differently. It will get its right penetration and find its own purpose,” Kurnal Rawat, Creative Director, Landor& Fitch told during an interaction on the topic of what lies ahead for the design world as Metaverse and NFTs continue to garner attention from almost every business.

From clothing, sports, music, gaming, publishing, lifestyle, automobile, retail, FMCG, jewellery, footwear, e-commerce and a lot more, businesses are taking Metaverse and NFT routes to acquire new consumer groups and to make a statement that they are the new-age brands.

Experts from diverse areas are confident about the future of these technologies. While creative people are betting on innovations, strategists too are sure of multi-dimensional growth in businesses.

However, what remains at the core of both NFT and Metaverse is a designer.

Ashwini Deshpande

Ashwini Deshpande, Co-Founder, Director, Elephant Design, while elaborating on the importance and relevance of design said, “Design is not just how you see things. That’s just a very superficial idea of what people believe design is. Design is actually how the functionality happens, how people use things, how the user journey happens, either on an online platform or in a physical space or while using a product that is all design.”

Opening up a new world of possibilities

Metaverse and NFT are two different entities altogether, but the one thread that binds both is design. The role of a graphic designer is unavoidable in both NFT and Metaverse. With such a fast-paced growth of NFTs and Metaverse, designers indeed will have a major role to play in the days to come.

“There’s always been a debate on design and art, and graphic design and graphic art vs art. And I think with NFT and all this, a lot more contemporary designers who are not just necessarily doing it in actual mediums but also on digital medium and performance art will get an opportunity to monetise this and definitely the value would be appreciated much more now,” Rawat said, elaborating on the probability of increased demand of designers.

Deshpande compared the situation with the times when website creation started.

“It’s like when the websites started coming in, and one by one businesses, brands started building their website saying we also have our website. There was a time when people started coming on the internet. And at that time, nobody knew what the website was going to do? Because there was no e-commerce at that time and everybody didn’t even have access to 4G or 3G. There were no smartphones. But then everybody knows how it progressed with the internet, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, 5G. And now everyone wants to have a website. It’s like wearing clothes. How can you not? I think Metaverse will have that kind of impact in future,” Deshpande said.

Voicing similar thoughts, Padhi compared it with the growth of OTT, he said, “Definitely it gives a huge opportunity. And seeing the way OTT has given opportunities to directors, producers, small writers, small actors. I feel this is 5,000 times bigger in terms of scope for creative people.”

Design – The highs and lows

Highly placed industry experts, as they scrutinise the current situation, however, believe that along with great work there is a lot of deformed artwork also available and is being hyped in the name of creativity.

Santosh Padhi

Santosh Padhi, Former Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder at Taproot Dentsu highlighted the difference between the contemporary artists and those from the pre-NFT and Metaverse days. He said, “We have gone through a proper art process, have learnt the basics of art and after getting a lot of confidence via our bosses, via our seniors, teachers, coaches, we have realised that okay, this is the way to go.”

He further mentions the viral post of a ‘Brown Egg’ that made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most liked photo as an example. “Now is there any emotion attached to it?” questioned Padhi and compared it to other works from the past like – pictures from the Bhopal gas tragedy and pictures clicked by Kevin Carter. “There is a lot of depth, emotion, story and heart in those pictures. It speaks a thousand words,” he added.

Rawat also said that the market will get cluttered in no time. “Everybody is going to go for the gold rush. And of course, this is always the case in any new trend, new shift and adoption, for the newer technology. Now the appetite for the adoption is much higher in India compared to what it was 10 years back. Like QR code was launched 10 years back but it was really not as effective as it's now, with Paytm and all that, QR code has become like the go-to for any digital activation.”

Spanner in the works

The Metaverse and NFT is a sphere where one can succeed only by experimenting. But even before one can try out anything, one has to be present there, understand the space and find out the problems that need addressing.  

Deshpande said, “Challenge right now is to visualise how anybody is going to approach the brand. Right now, we know how people go to a retail shop and how they approach a shelf, how people approach a brand on e-commerce. But we don’t yet know how we can build pathways so that they reach your brand in the right way, at the right time in the right avatar. Also, right now, you could reach out to a product and hold it in your hands, turn it around, read, smell, feel the texture etc. But things change. The typology changed. Now you will not be able to actually see it physically, but you’re going to see it on your mobile screens. That’s how then one has to design, knowing that it’s not on the shelf but it’s on a small screen.”

“So, again that typology of how we design brands and packaging changed. Because the viewer’s viewpoint changed and scale changed. Now in the metaverse, I think that typology is yet to be discovered,” Deshpande added.

According to Padhi, one of the major challenges right now is the legal stature of NFTs in India. The government of India, instead of legalising digital currency, has levied a 30% tax on it.

“My discomfort is – are they being bought for the right reason? Or are they being bought to make a point? To make a statement? And if they are buying, is that an actual currency that is exchanging hands? Or is that something really unwanted? Is that legal money? Is that a legal way? Or there is some hidden thing,” Padhi said.

 What’s coming up?

A lot is happening at the backend, in the conference rooms and design studios that involves ventures into NFTs and Metaverse. From retail stores to gamification and crypto platforms in Metaverse, historic events and iconic moments captured in NFTs are on the top of every marketer’s mind.

Landor & Fitch’s Rawat said, “Yes we are working on gamification of crypto currency new platforms. So, here, you are betting on which crypto will go up and down in a gamified way to earn money and points and currency and NFTs and giveaways in the crypto world.”

Elephant Design’s Deshpande said, “There are clients who we are in talks with within building retail spaces on the Metaverse. And they are from all walks of life, varying from décor, automobiles, F&B, health, and all of them are looking at Metaverse for building their presence in retail.”

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