You’ve found the perfect accent chair for your living room at the cute little furniture store down the street, but the fabric on the floor model? Maybe not so much. Currently, most retailers only have stuff in one fabric design in the store. If you want something different, you have to flip through books of fabric swatches. It works, but it also means you’re buying that chair sight unseen.
Now, one startup, Vizera Labs, is looking to change that, making it possible to see that chair in the flesh, upholstered hundreds of different ways, by projecting the fabric design onto a white version. It sounds a little crazy, but the tech actually works, and it looks pretty amazing.
Everything from cotton to leather can be projected, with astonishingly realistic results. The projector even takes into account reflections and light to make its manufactured upholstery indistinguishable from the real thing.
Setting the projectors up takes a few days and requires Vizera Labs to create a digital model of the piece of furniture, as well as scan in any available fabric swatches. Store installation can be done in a few hours. The projectors are already live in five stores around the world.
Right now, the company is looking to apply the technology to furniture showrooms because they have to be large to accommodate tons of inventory. The projectors allow the showrooms to be smaller, which means they can show up in more high-rent areas like downtown districts or airports.
Photographed By Stephanie Bassos.
While the tech is currently being used for things like couches and armchairs, the company sees it ultimately being used for a whole lot more.
“Anything that’s being sold and ordered, we think our technology can be applied. Things like cars, furniture, wallpaper, rugs, and flooring,” Ali Çevik, the company’s co-founder and CEO, tells us. “Once we do this in showrooms, we’ll also be able to do the same thing in luxury bags or shoes.”
That’s right: You’ll be able to see what those pumps look like a dozen different ways before you buy.
Çevik is quick to point out that projected fabric designs don’t take away from the shopping experience. They enhance it.
“People will be able to see the fabrics on the projection, but also, they will be able to touch the fabrics using swatches. We don’t eliminate the physical experience; we make it more rich,” he says.
In the store, you’ll still be able to sit on that couch, or try on those heels — you’ll just be doing so with a plain white model. It’s a win-win for retailers and customers. Your favorite store can lower its overhead by keeping less in stock, and you will have more options when you buy.
“We’re putting a digital layer on top of the physical world,” Çevik says. A pretty impressive one, if you ask us.