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The effectiveness of interactive virtual reality for furniture, fixture and equipment design communication: an empirical study

Abhinesh Prabhakaran (Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of the West of England Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Abdul-Majeed Mahamadu (Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of the West of England Bristol, Bristol, UK) (Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, University of Johannesburg – Doornfontein Campus, Doornfontein, South Africa)
Lamine Mahdjoubi (Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of the West of England Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Patrick Manu (School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Che Khairil Izam Che Ibrahim (Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia)
Clinton Ohis Aigbavboa (Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, University of Johannesburg – Doornfontein Campus, Doornfontein, South Africa)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 12 February 2021

Issue publication date: 10 June 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to propose a novel approach to developing an interactive and immersive virtual environment for design communication in the furniture, fixture and equipment (FFE) sector. The study further investigates its effectiveness in enhancing the design communication and coordination between the stakeholder.

Design/methodology/approach

Quasi-experimental research was adopted involving 12 FFE professionals, designers and end-users in single-group pre-test-post-test design. The tests were performed primarily to ascertain the impact of the application of interactive virtual reality on delivering furniture design selection and coordination tasks. Further interviews were used to elicit participants' views on the functionality and usefulness of the proposed approach.

Findings

The findings indicate that an interactive immersive virtual FFE environment: enhances the productivity of the design team through a collaborative virtual workspace offering a synchronised networked design testing and review platform; reduces the time required for the stakeholders to comprehend the design options and test those; enhances the design communication and quality of the design and encourages the collaborative culture in the industry; improves the design satisfaction of the stakeholders; and finally, requires significantly less time for design decision-making when compared to traditional methods.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies should incorporate space planning concepts and explore non-experimental methodologies in a real-life FFE project setup.

Practical implications

The proposed approach provides opportunities for enhanced interpretation of design intent in FFE as well as efficiency in design selection and coordination tasks when compared with conventional two-dimensional methods of communication.

Originality/value

This study proposes a step change in the way furniture design is communicated and coordinated through an immersive virtual experience. Previous studies have not addressed the issue of impact on design coordination instead focussed on marketing and sales.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the University of the West of England, Bristol and Springfield Supplies & Projects, Bristol. Appreciation is also extended to the professionals who participated in the study.

Citation

Prabhakaran, A., Mahamadu, A.-M., Mahdjoubi, L., Manu, P., Che Ibrahim, C.K.I. and Aigbavboa, C.O. (2021), "The effectiveness of interactive virtual reality for furniture, fixture and equipment design communication: an empirical study", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 1440-1467. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-04-2020-0235

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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