How the VR Company Space became the Airbnb for NFTs


Then, in January 2021, something else happened. A Parisian artist named Yacine Aït Kaci had been commissioned to build a virtual museum to celebrate the tenth anniversary of ELYX, an entirely digital, genderless and agnostic ambassador created by the United Nations. The artist, who sometimes goes by the name YAK, has chosen to host the virtual museum event in the Spatial app.

Months later, visual designer Jarlan Perez and contemporary video producer and sculptor Federico Clapis, whose sculptures of babies holding iPhones in utero and VR-headset-clad mothers holding invisible children are a jarring interpretation of the modern world. , have also entered Spatial. . They took the virtual spaces Spatial had built for giant companies to review PowerPoints or play with 3D product renderings and created galleries for their works instead. And then they started selling NFTs.

The whole notion is surprisingly abstract: presenting digital art, a gorgeous or beautifully bizarre assemblage of ones and zeros, in a fully virtual workshop, also a series of ones and zeros, and then selling it as a non-fungible token based on the blockchain to a buyer who cannot physically own art, but can, at least to a certain audience, prove that they have a unique copy of it. Regardless: soon 90% of Spatial users were NFT artists using the application’s virtual environments as exhibition spaces.

The Space team responded quickly, creating what they claim to be one-click options for artists to onboard Ethereum wallets, enter their NFTs, and choose one of the many galleries to host an event in. The app has become a virtual Airbnb for artists selling NFTs. .

Not all Space was on board; two of the company’s management team had joined the frenzy, but most of the rest had to be convinced. Additionally, Spatial hasn’t exactly shared the number of users it currently has or calculated how many artworks it has sold, although Loewenstein says there are individual success stories. Artist Tyrone Webb, for example, was able to sell his first 12 NFTs once he started exhibiting in Spatial.

But other much more corporate entities also use Spatial to sell NFTs. In September, the NBA’s Utah Jazz sold 30 NFT collectibles and offered, as part of the purchase, exclusive access to meet the team in a virtual locker room. The franchise hired contemporary artist Krista Kim and AR / VR designer Michael Potts to build the virtual locker room, which they built using Spatial.

“This was an opportunity for Utah Jazz to create both physical and digital storefronts,” says Kim, who also created one of the first digital homes to sell as an NFT, called Mars House. “This is where the future of these sports franchises will go. Star players don’t have to leave their homes and everyone wins.

New money

A business model in which multi-billion dollar sports franchises use your software might not be bad for Spatial, and maybe not that different from selling your software to Fortune 500 companies. Going forward , Spatial plans to sell its own custom-designed virtual spaces as NFTs, or it could set up an affiliate business where it gets some of the art it sells, Loewenstein said.

But there is currently enough skepticism based on the NFT art market to question whether the Spatial hub could be unlucky. Some artists have suggested that their fellow creators are sold on speculative value and the promise of prestige more than anything else. Others have expressed concern about the real environmental impact crypto-fueled art could have. At the AWE conference, where Loewenstein was presenting his case, some metaverse developers were less than excited.

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