The culmination of months of planning and countless iterations, The Art of Outdoor Living was LIV Design Studio's latest foray into the augmented-reality space, as well as an opportunity to showcase the impressive work of Canadian interior design students.

Created for IDS Toronto 2024, this fleeting installation captivated audiences and provoked conversations about the future of patio design and the increasing role of augmented-reality in interior design. Now, we're pulling back the curtain on the ideation and design process to share our thoughts, inspiration, and expertise for those curious about how the AR experience and booth came to life.

[Pictured in header: The Art of Outdoor Living booth, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Ideation – Building upon success

The idea for The Art of Outdoor Living began almost as soon as our previous augmented-reality experience, The Future of Work at IDS Vancouver 2022, was finalized. Thrilled with the resounding success of this experience, our CG artists and interior designers wanted to build off this momentum while learning from the challenges we faced.

Responding to IDS Toronto 2024's theme of Canadian design, coinciding with the event's 25th anniversary, we decided to coordinate our next AR experience to celebrate the great Canadian outdoors. We put out a challenge to interior design students across Canada to submit their concept for an adaptable, multi-purpose patio that could easily be repeated in a multi-residential context. These students would compete for a total of $15,000 in total prizes, in addition to presenting their work at IDS Toronto 2024.

[Pictured here: Preliminary sketches and plans for The Art of Outdoor Living booth by LIV Design Studio]

Rendering – Designing the Virtual Experience

Learning from IDS Vancouver 2022, we focused on refining the consistency and fidelity of the experience by switching from a target-only design to a full SLAM and image target pipeline. A key update to improve user experience was adding simple text and symbol-based UI instructions to give feedback. If, for instance, a user was moving too fast or needed to recalibrate by pointing their phone back to an image target. This assistive feedback was key for ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience.
-Matthew Schilling, Lead CG Artist at LIV Design Studio

While the LIV Design Studio team was hard at work designing the physical space that would house the augmented-reality designs, a distinguished panel of industry judges selected three finalists whose work would be turned into hyper-realistic CG renderings by LIV Design Studio's computer graphics team.

These three finalists, Cali Pitcher, Emily Peterson, and Saiqa Javid Shaikh, each presented a wholly unique interpretation of the future of multi-residential patio design that presented creative new ways to enjoy the outdoors and connect with nature. Finalists had the unique opportunity to work directly with LIV's computer graphics team. This collaboration turned their conceptual designs into rendered realities, allowing the students to see their ideas visualized in a professional and immersive format.

These renderings would become a crucial part of the immersive design experience. Coordinating the AR platform and CG renderings was perhaps the most complex part of this undertaking, and required numerous decisions to be made which ultimately contributed to the success of the final experience. For one, AR content had to be meticulously optimized to run smoothly on multiple different types of devices. To address this, we selected WebAR as it allowed the experience to run directly through a smartphone browser.

One of the most complex aspects of the project was aligning the virtual designs with the physical booth space. This required precise coordination between the interior designers and the CG/AR team to ensure that virtual elements matched the physical layout. Achieving this alignment was crucial for maintaining the illusion of a cohesive space, where digital augmentations felt naturally integrated into the physical environment.

[Pictured left to right: Concept renderings of The Arbor by Emily Peterson, Ataraxia by Cali Pitcher, and Split Peak by Saiqa Javid Shaikh]

Designing – Melding Physical & Virtual Realities

With the virtual worlds taking shape, our attention turned to the intricate process of connecting the AR experience to the physical world. From the placement of QR codes to the optimization of AR content, every aspect of the experience was meticulously planned and executed to ensure a seamless and immersive experience for guests.

As attendees entered the booth, they were greeted with instructional placards in serene spaces outfitted with outdoor furnishings from RODA and VICOSTONE Canada, lighting fixtures from Diffusion Lighting, and carpets from Shaw Contract, setting the stage for the experience and creating cohesion between the physical and virtual worlds. The technical complexity of the experience was clearly distilled into straightforward instructions encouraging online voting, engaging guests on a deeper level and fostering a sense of community and collaboration that extended beyond the confines of the booth.

[Pictured here: Rendering of The Art of Outdoor Living booth by LIV Design Studio]

Setup – Bringing Immersion to Life

"Designing the physical space for an augmented reality experience requires careful consideration of many environmental factors, such as lighting, space constraints, and physical obstructions. We wanted the virtual world to blend seamlessly with the real world setting so users can navigate the space smoothly without feeling disoriented.
-Dickson Chu, Senior Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

With all the planning done, the only task remaining was to assemble the various components at IDS Toronto 2024. With a tight timeframe to set up the temporary booth, the difficulty of creating a truly immersive experience was magnified, but thankfully LIV Design Studio's Visually-Led Design process eliminated the guesswork and streamlined the construction process significantly.

Anticipating large crowds and potential bottlenecks, our team took care to create designated holding areas and ensure effortless transitions through the booths different micro-spaces, creating a physical experience that was as seamless as the virtual one. Furnishings, lighting fixtures, carpets, and other materials supplied by our sponsors were brought in shortly before the event and taken away just after, with our designers opting for sustainable materials for the actual form of the booth so as to minimize the environmental impact of this temporary space.

All this hard work culminated in a truly unforgettable experience that effortlessly brought together physical and virtual realities, all while uplifting the next generation of interior designers. The Art of Outdoor Living attracted approximately 1,500 IDS Toronto attendees, and garnered 1,100 total audience votes. The first place prize went to Emily Peterson for her design 'The Arbor', with Ataraxia by Cali Pitcher awarded our People's Choice Award.

[Pictured here: In-progress photos of The Art of Outdoor Living booth, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Looking to the Future of Immersive Design

The Student Design Challenge and AR booth at IDS Toronto 2024 exemplified LIV's innovative approach to immersive design. By fostering collaboration between students and professionals, leveraging cutting-edge AR technology, and creatively overcoming technical challenges, LIV set a new standard for immersive experiences in design showcases. This initiative not only provided valuable real-world experience for emerging designers but also offered attendees a glimpse into the future of interior and immersive design.

[Pictured here: Finished project photo of The Art of Outdoor Living by LIV Design Studio]

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