#28: VR Architecture & Tools for Thought with Andreea Ion Cojocaru

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
2 HR 26 MIN
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Episode Description

Andreea and Josh talk about the creative and philosophical implications of designing spaces in virtual reality, as well as philosophies around tools for thought and software that can completely change the way we think creatively.

About Andreea Ion Cojocaru

Andreea is a software developer and a licensed architect. She’s the co-founder & CEO of NUMENA, an award-winning German company that designs and develops both virtual and physical spaces. NUMENA’s projects span from XR applications for training and marketing to mixed-use buildings. Aside from design and code, Andreea has a deep interest in the social and philosophical implications of immersive tech and is a frequent guest speaker on the impact of virtual reality. She is currently working on a new virtual tool for design and thought.

Connect with Andreea

Learn more about Numena

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  • Andreea has always wanted to combine architecture with computer code.
  • Andreea and her company Numena uses Unity to develop virtual reality experiences.
  • Numena has two arms of the business: an agency / studio where they work on client projects, then they reinvest their revenue into a software product that they have been working on that allows people to design architecture in virtual reality.
  • Numena uses their own software tool to develop projects more effectively for their studio clients.
  • Andreea says the market is getting saturated with architectural visualization tools, where architects design on a traditional 3D software on their computer screen, then visualize it in VR.
  • When you design on a computer screen, you're in a God-like perspective, that is usually quite abstract. When you design in virtual reality, you make completely different design decisions from an embodied point of view. Andreea calls this "Inside Out Design".
  • Andreea says that VR as a design tool is taking us on a new path, into a different way of thinking, where we make new types of decisions.
  • Numena's VR design tool is so intuitive that they had one of their clients design their own space using the tool, and they did such a good job that it had even shocked Andreea.
  • Andreea says that most of what you learn in architecture school is drawing conventions for blueprints, but if you take that away, she thinks almost anyone can learn how to design spaces quite effectively now that the barrier to entry is so low.
  • Ikea has an AR app where they digitized their furniture so people can place it in their homes using their smartphone.
  • Andreea believes that VR has so much more power than AR.
  • Spheres was the best virtual reality experience that Andreea has tried (so far).
  • Andreea spoke about Half Life Alyx on the Voices of VR podcast
  • Corona Render is a rendering engine to make 3D models look hyper realistic.
  • When doing real-time rendering in VR, Numena's number one priority goes to shadows. Andreea considers a shadows a design element in her designs.
  • The second thing Andreea considers after a shadows, is making things look dirty and used. It gives it a level of believability and realism.
  • When doing a day time render, the windows (and all glass materials) should be reflective when the sun is out.
  • Architecture has always been in a crisis because their clients are historically dictatorships or rich people, and styles constantly change.
  • Frank Gehry has a MasterClass where he teaches architecture and design.
  • Andreea suggests looking up Corbusier's work since he is known as the "Father of modern architecture".
  • Numena comes from the term noumenon coined by the philosopher Kant, which means "something that we are not able to witness through our senses". The opposite of nounena is Phenomena: "something that we CAN experience through our senses".
  • Andreea has Synesthesia, where she can feel sounds as volumetric topology. Everything in her mind is spatialized. It's how she processes all information.
  • Josh uses Webflow to build websites visually.
  • Josh uses Notion databases to visualize spreadsheet rows and columns in different views like cards, calendars and timelines.
  • Roam Research is a "note-taking app" for networked thoughts.
  • Numena's productivity tool stack consists of Jira, Confluence and Miro.
  • Andreea argues that micromanaging your life and work in a productivity tool like Notion can actually hinder creativity. Josh then argues that you need to figure out how to switch between "manager brain" and "creative brain" so you don't micromanage yourself.

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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