A few months ago, Ikea released an unbelievable app. When you placed the company's catalog anywhere in your home, it could appear as one of a few different pieces of furniture on your iPad screen. In a long line of borderline useless augmented reality apps, this simple experience felt like magic.
Now, entrepreneur Marc Lebovitz is expanding on that same idea with his new startup, Adornably, a company centered around a new iPad app. After downloading Adornably and creating a free account, you can lay any magazine on the floor of a room and Adornably will use it to scale a virtual image of that room in your iPad. From there, you can shop from a number of furniture options to virtually redesign your space.
So why use a magazine to drive the interface? "Several options were considered," Lebovitz tells Co.Design. "Ultimately a magazine was chosen because we wanted it to be something accessible that people could just pick up and use, there are natural synergies with those interested in design having magazines for inspiration, and the size is small enough to be non-intrusive in a picture but big enough to be recognized well in the space."
Indeed, testing the app in my own home, I was annoyed by a few crashes and slowdowns, but generally impressed with how casually I could plop down a copy of Bon Appetit, wait a few moments for the screen to scan over it, and then see that magazine tagged with a green circle on my screen that shifted as I moved the iPad. From here, I could take photos—to be used to add furniture to at a later time—or pull something straight from the Adornably catalog to allow it to virtually exist in my living room as I panned the scene.
The neatest moment comes when previewing a piece of furniture in a photo and you can drag it around with your finger. There’s no worry about breaking the perspective; Adornably’s software is handling all the complicated geometry for you. So moving a 500-pound mahogany armoire across your bedroom is as simple as a swipe.
While the app is free, Lebovitz plans to make money through its store, which will take a cut of each sale from the manufacturer (just like any furniture website or brick and mortar location would do.) For now, they’re only featuring Stanley, Vanguard, and Theodore Alexander pieces, but Lebovitz plans to add more manufacturers in the future, and he may include manufacturers of more than just furniture.
"Our focus will remain the home, but it will expand to include other product categories, including rugs and wall art, as well as deeper levels of interior design, such as the ability to modify walls, floors, and fixtures," Lebovitz explains. "We chose the home because that’s where our passion lies, and there is also a clear consumer need to visualize furniture and décor in their space in a photorealistic manner that is to-scale, which overcomes a barrier to purchase that has long afflicted the industry."
Lebovitz even believes there’s a revenue opportunity for Adornably to serve as a personal home decorating consultant as well as a furniture store. Adornably is off to a good start design-wise, with a v1.0 platform that, while still a bit buggy, holds a lot of promise.
The question is, will Adornably’s unique UI drive user adoption quickly, or will other major retailers, like the Targets, Walmarts, and Ikeas of the world simply follow suit and build similar solutions in-house before Adornably can catch momentum? Time will tell. But you know, they could always just be bought out, too.