This Chennai-based interior designing startup is using AR to help users visualise décor

SEP 05, 2021

Founded in 2020, Pixel and Mortar aims to help users visualise interior décor and make the right choice by using an augmented reality platform.

When we decide to design or make over our rooms, workspaces, homes, we try to choose colours, furniture, and décor. But, the choice isn’t easy without visualisation.

What if we could virtually see what a place would look like with a certain type of décor? Chennai-based Pixel and Mortar is addressing this problem by helping users to visualise interior decors using an augmented reality platform.

Founded in 2020 by Siddharth Chandrashekar, ?Pixel and Mortar? is developing a platform that allows users to combine digital and physical, enabling a world where a trained interior designer creates mood boards to understand user preferences and then suggests furniture, rugs, wallpapers, lamps, furnishings, and more.

Pixel and Mortar

Image Credit: Pixel and Mortar

The platform will allow users to see exactly what the décor will look like in their room in 3D, and also enable them to replace and rearrange them as required.

Speaking to YourStory, Siddharth reveals that the end-to-end AR platform is set to go live in early 2022. More than 30 major online furniture and home decor brands have already signed up to offer their inventory through this platform.

Early journey

Siddharth has always been interesting in arts and visuals. He has worked as a film publicist for over 100 movies across one and a half decades, and also directed one South Indian movie.

In 1997, he launched Mitrra Media, a design agency that provides artistic, innovative, and product-based design services for small-medium businesses. In 2013, he launched a space experiential design firm Pencil and Monk, an interior designing firm that specialises in customising personal spaces from budget homes to luxurious hospitality projects.

“As a part of this business, I started working on a lot of homes and realised the opportunity in this space but there are a lot of costs involved. I also realised that one may think visually but it might not be possible to showcase this in words. The problem people faced is not being able to express their needs. We started working on a design-thinking principle to empathise with the customer’s point of view, to understand their perspective, identify the problem, and then bring out the solution,” Siddharth tells YourStory Media.

He adds that amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, the demand for interior designing increased further as people were cooped up at home all day. However, the major challenge was that while they were interested in getting renovations done, it involved very high costs. This led to a new solution: designing by room, not by home.

Illustration: YS Design

Using augmented reality

Siddharth explains that while working on a project, a designer would need to look for furniture, select the best, put them on software, create the design layout, and then put pricing details. A designer charges the customer for this entire process.

The idea was to reduce the time taken by the designer to complete this entire process, thereby reducing the cost. Apart from this, different types of furniture are available but the challenge lies in visualising which would suit one’s place better.

With Pixel and Mortar, the team is leveraging AR to build a platform that will help put together furniture, carpet, paint, décor, etc in the room and show users a 3D model of how it would look like in real life.

“Due to the need for work from home amid the pandemic, people also needed to set up workstations, proper background for Zoom calls among others. Apart from this, many people went back to their hometowns amid pandemic-led lockdowns where they are taking the idea of renovation and interior decoration to suit their lifestyle. This is pushing the demand in Tier II and III cities,” he says.

Siddharth explained the with Pixel and Mortar, the idea is to not only decorate new homes but also remodify existing rooms, places to suit the needs. It enables people to design maybe one or two rooms according to their need. People can also gift renovated rooms to their friends or family members at low costs.

Pixel and Mortar

Image Credit: Pixel and Mortar

Business and plans

Speaking about the business model, Siddharth explains that the startup will charge users a fee for interior decoration services. It will also operate on a commission model with the vendors providing the furniture and decor.

“For independent vendors, implementing an AR platform to showcase their product in 3D model to users might be a costly affair. But under Pixel and Mortar, all the vendors get to come together and put their products in the room and build the 3D model thereby reducing the costs,” he explains.

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the home interiors and renovation in India are estimated to stand between $20 Billion to $30 Billion. Other notable players such as Livspace, HomeLane, Bonito Designs, Infurnia among others are also working in this sector.

Siddharth explains that the bootstrapped startup has already developed the platform and is currently testing it. He adds that designers have already been onboarded and are currently undergoing training to use the platform.

Set to be commercially launched in early 2022, the startup aims to “complete 50,000 rooms in the first year and one crore rooms in the next five years.