Meet the Creators: Fatemeh Monfared, SpacesDAO
The architect and SpacesDAO co-founder on creation, community and the future of the metaverse.
May 10, 2022
A graduate of the Polytechnic University of Madrid with a Masters in Architecture, Fatemeh Monfared is the founder and Chief Metaverse Architect of SpacesDAO, a growing collective of metaverse artists and architects. In a recent Twitter Spaces hosted by Parcel’s Head of Product, Ian Mukherjee, she outlined the ethos and approach of the decentralized autonomous organization and its ongoing mission to design the future of the metaverse. The following are highlights from that discussion.
Ian Mukherjee: I'd love to understand how you guys work with clients and your process for creating metaverse architecture.
Fatemeh Monfared: It starts with a client coming to us. Most of the time they don't really know what they want in the metaverse, but they've heard the buzzword and they want to be there and have that Web3 presence. So the first thing we do is a consulting session to understand what they want to achieve and then educate them on the different options they have across worlds and platforms. Then we can build a strategy around which metaverse platform suits them best. For example, if they’re music-focused, they may be interested in The Sandbox.
Once a metaverse has been chosen, we discuss where in that metaverse they may want to establish themselves. Many worlds have districts that are centered around certain industries such as art, history, fashion, etc.
Next, we move on to prototyping, concept and design. We work with the client to understand the type of architecture that would make sense for the space and experience they’re looking to build. Once we decide on a prototype, we design and develop the build, similarly to an in-real-life build.
The last step is actually working with developers to make the space a more interactive and immersive experience. I think that the more interaction that you build on top of a build, the more interesting it is for the avatar or for the user that is going into that space. Because when we are experiencing a 2D space, we don't really need the rooms to interact with us, but in the 3D world or in the virtual world, we need that.
For example, if I go to a space in Decentraland or The Sandbox, I expect some kind of interaction where I can play a game or I go into a room where a message pops up allowing me to participate in certain activities. So it's not really static, it's moving. It's interacting with you and it's engaging you to do certain activities or to take part in different things that are happening inside of it.
“I think that the more interaction that you build on top of a build, the more interesting it is for the avatar or for the user that is going into that space.”
IM: And what about pre-made 3D assets that people can place on their land? Can you provide a little of your thought process on creating those and working with your community to bring those to life?
FM: Our mission at SpacesDAO is to bring design to different metaverse platforms and so we thought, how can we do this and engage our community in an efficient way? We want our community to be able to just go into a marketplace and acquire and deploy it rather than having to commission someone to build something from scratch.
A lot of people don't have the time or the need for that, right? You just have land and you want to deploy something immediately and you don't really require a specific build to be done for that.
So that was the reason we started with this. We're going to create different collections of things that would be easily deployable to different metaverse platforms. Currently we're trying to explore, along with our community, what is the best way to go forward with this? What are the best platforms to deploy these assets on? What are the utilities that we can give to each 3D asset that we release and do they need to be part of collections?
IM: Give us your thoughts on the community and your work with them? How do you foster that comradery?
FM: Me and my co-founder Juan – we went to architecture school together in Spain – we reunited after graduation and built SpacesDAO because of our love for NFTs and blockchain technology.
So it was us basically going directly to people that we were in touch with from university, gauging the interest they had in getting into the metaverse space. And from there, it went into trying to expand on that by going into the broader community of architects across the world trying to see if we could onboard architects that would be interested.
We initially found that a lot of them were curious but didn’t really know much, and they were very skeptical of what could happen. So we had to take it step-by-step and educate them first because the community of architects is, as you can imagine, not very receptive to technology and innovation.
Architecture in Spain is very traditional. I would say that going to our classmates, or people we knew from university and talking about the metaverse, we were initially laughed at like, “what are you talking about? This is insane.”
IM: Where do you see the metaverse in five to 10 years as you continue to educate more people and they start to catch on?
FM: In five to 10 years, I really hope that we have interoperability. I think we keep using the term ‘metaverse’ very loosely, and I think the metaverse as it should be, does not exist yet.
So I think in five to 10 years, we can expect to have the metaverse, which is funny to think about, right? We keep saying the metaverse, but it doesn't exist. So, in my opinion, the metaverse would be a collection of immersive virtual worlds that are interconnected with each other through an interoperable network. I think it doesn't make sense that I own a house or an asset in one platform and I can't use it in a different one.
Once you’re able to use your assets across various platforms I think we're going to have more immersive platforms where we can use technologies like VR, AR, and XR to access them.
And the third thing that I see in five to 10 years is how we connect our virtual worlds to our physical worlds. We're already seeing a lot of movements happening there. For example, the Sotheby's Residence One project connecting virtual homes to physical real estate in Miami. I think that is like a first step towards what ‘phygital’ can mean for architecture in the metaverse.
“In five to 10 years, I really hope that we have interoperability … it doesn't make sense that I own a house or an asset in one platform and I can't use it in a different one.”
IM: In terms of these phygital experiences that you're talking about, what platforms have you seen popping up that interest you or are taking early action?
FM: One of the platforms that I have loved using, and I think really bridges all the different experiences that you can have is Spatial. You can experience it through a phone application, your computer, your web browser, and then you can experience it with VR. And they have AR integration as well.
So I think it's a very well-rounded platform that offers many different ways to experience it. I also think OVR is really cool in terms of connecting your physical space to your virtual space.
Noah Gaynor (CEO, Parcel): What does the future of metaverse architecture and AR look like? Will it be about adding onto existing buildings or is it creating entirely new structures in vacant spaces?
FM: I was actually thinking recently about how AR can bring value to spaces that are forgotten or vacant spaces that we have within our cities that don't necessarily have the value that they deserve. How can we revive those spaces? And I do think AR can be a really amazing technology to do that, but I think it's also a way we can build on top of our everyday lives.
I saw someone post something about how, for Mother's Day, they wanted to give their mom a flower, but they couldn't travel across the world to be with her. So they went and they built a virtual flower in front of their home in AR. And that was their way of gifting something to them for Mother's Day. And I thought that was really beautiful.
I think with AR there are so many possibilities, whether it's bringing a gift across the world in virtual reality, reviving a leftover space in our existing world, or just bringing an exhibition to a physical space. I think there are so many ways that we can use that technology to bring value to people’s lives, whether it's the virtual or the physical world.
IM: What's your advice for some aspiring metaverse artists and architects?
FM: I think the best advice I can give to any creator or artist who is trying to get into the metaverse or NFT space is definitely to educate yourself before you start. I know we use that word quite a bit, but I think it's really important to learn about the technology that you're going to be building on top of and really get that background in beforehand.
Educating yourself on how to keep your crypto assets safe I think is something that we overlook a lot because we're so immersed in the space, but starting out, it's really important to have knowledge around security, and avoiding scams.
Check out a handful of projects from SpacesDAO at their website or visit their profile on the Parcel Creatorverse. And stay tuned for more Parcel Creator AMAs, produced in collaboration with The Construct.