Towards new dimensions

Wherever we look in our everyday lives – the range of virtual platforms, apps and tools on offer seems endless. With their help, we immerse ourselves in worlds we couldn’t even dream of a few years ago. But what does it actually take to create such a digital world? And who opens the gate between this world and the real one to make it as easy as child’s play for us all to go beyond our boundaries? The VIME (VIrtual MEdia) team at Mohn Media has a recipe to make it all possible.

Andreas Diebold gently swings his tablet from left to right. He concentrates on the display; behind him, numerous fabric samples are piled up on his desk. He takes a step forward, kneels down and nods, smiling. What you don’t notice at first glance: Andreas is based at the centre of two worlds – his real office and the virtual world of furniture. A sofa covered in an anthracite fabric appears right in front of him, for instance, and it looks so real and comfortable that you just have the urge to sit on it. Andreas is satisfied: the level of light striking the piece of furniture is exactly the same as that of his office. Perfect job! What Andreas is looking at on his tablet is not a real sofa but a huge collection of data – data that his colleagues have collected over the past few weeks and painstakingly processed.

Andreas Diebold tries out some new furniture for his office - virtually.
Andreas and Götz combine innovative drive with well-conceived concepts.

 

Click of a mouse

Andreas constantly moves between the two worlds: in the morning, he leaves home for his office at Mohn Media. Very real and no different to that of every other employee. Yet, as soon as he has switched on his tablet, smartphone or computer and logs onto the programme, he is transported to a new dimension within seconds. Countless products await him there: all it takes is a click to change their size, colour or surface. Andreas has long dreamt of being able to immerse himself in the blink of an eye in the digital world. Together with his colleague Götz Moritz Bongartz, he developed a body scanner whilst still at university, where he studied print and media technology and design. This was the first big step towards the digital world. Their work also impressed Mohn Media, even though this initially seemed a bit far fetched for many people. A printing house with such an extensive history that believes digitalisation is the way forward? But one thing was clear to Mohn Media, as much as it was to Andreas and Götz: a healthy portion of innovative drive and a well-conceived concept could allow customers who have previously put their trust in print only to also enter the virtual world. Up until that moment, they had been missing the right key to unlock the gate to digitalisation. So, Andreas and Götz moved into their offices at Mohn Media with the aim of developing digital tools – and literally unlocking new dimensions.

 

Perfect mix

The duo has since grown into an imaginative team of ten. The VIME team’s disciplines are as diverse as the countries its members hail from (which range from Brazil and Latvia to China). Not only designers, but also IT specialists and project managers ensure that the necessary skills are distributed evenly. The VIME team needs these different strengths as they intend to make it possible for more than just Andreas to move between the digital and the real world. They also plan on opening the gate to their new dimension to people who maybe don’t appreciate the usefulness of online solutions yet. The VIME team’s work sweeps questions such as “What advantages do these technologies offer and isn’t everything just fine the way it is at the moment?” aside or rather, swipes them aside on the tablet. So how does it work? The smart international team combines state-of-the-art technology with established knowledge, sharp graphic design and the desire for a tangible buying experience.

Our job calls for creativity as much as it does for clear structures and smart concepts. Perfect teamwork gets results.

Götz Moritz Bongartz, Technical Director VIME

Götz Bongartz and his colleagues transform real pieces of furniture into data sets.

From real to digital

They send their products on a journey: almost as if by magic, they produce a computerised digital image, a  rendering, from the real piece of furniture by scanning it digitally down to the smallest detail. The customer then accesses this image on their smartphone or tablet and can virtually position it in their home to see what it would look like. Or the new sofa simply pops up as a 3D object on the pages of a catalogue. Andreas and his team have also come up with a solution for that. If the customer decides to purchase the item, the real piece of furniture will ultimately stand in their own four walls. Despite a strong team and its many individual strengths, the staff at Mohn Media have to master numerous challenges: the huge amounts of data they produce must be managed and top-quality digital objects must be supplied to customers. On top of that, there is also the time factor. The digital world changes and progresses at a rapid pace.

The digital furniture’s fabrics look deceptively real.
The team has developed a textile scanner that presents the fibre structure in a photorealistic way.

 

Discovering new things

That is why the VIME team has to keep addressing one specific task: how can they succeed in keeping the door between the two worlds open at all times? The answer is obvious – the team must never lose its belief in creative ideas and the desire to explore new paths. In order to illustrate the fabric covers for the furniture in a way that is as realistic as possible,  for example, the team has developed its own, unique textile scanner that presents the fibre structure in a particularly photorealistic way. Last year, Andreas and his team made more than five million pieces of furniture come to life digitally. New projects are already about to start, such as 3D processing of elaborate book covers aimed at making all premium finishes visible online too. The VIME team is certain: it has not yet reached the limits of the digital world, and will therefore continue to explore new dimensions. It’s almost as if they had always been there, just waiting to be discovered by Andreas and his colleagues.

 

VIME always offers us new possibilities for expanding the digital world. And we make good use of them!

Andreas Diebold, Head of VIME

  • Number of pixels making up a 3D model: several million

  • The number of hours Andreas spends in the digital world every day: too many

  • Number of nationalities in the VIME team: seven

  • Number of renderings produced in 2017: more than five million

  • Number of mobile devices used by the VIME team: 30

  • Cups of coffee consumed in one working day: around ten cups each

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