Dezeen Magazine

Kelly Wearstler imagines virtual garage for LeBron James' electric Hummer

American interior designer Kelly Wearstler has designed a virtual garage in the desert that she imagines housing basketball player LeBron James' electric Hummer.

Informed by California's modernist architecture and the landscape around Joshua Tree, the house-garage hybrid was designed to mark the launch of the electric Hummer with James envisioned as the client.

"I imagined that LeBron James, who is the ambassador for the Hummer EV, would live there," Wearstler told Dezeen.

"I wanted to create a super sexy home in the desert where his vehicle is a sculpture."

Hummer EV house in Joshua Tree
The virtual garage features a car lift

Wearstler designed the garage as there is an increased interest in virtual design due to several high-profile sales of digital artworks including the first NFT-backed digital house, which just sold for over half a million dollars.

"I think we are starting to see the value in virtual art and design more than ever before," said Wearstler.

"Since the pandemic began it has provided accessible and safe sources of escape and become highly valued,"  continued Wearstler, who is a judge for Dezeen Awards 2021.

"You now see virtual art and design being sold and auctioned for huge amounts."

Hummer EV virtual design interior for California
The design references midcentury California architecture

As well as being a new frontier for her studio, building a virtual interior rather than a physical set for the Hummer EV launch was also a more environmentally conscious decision, said Wearstler.

"CGI is one of the greatest tools for designing and can be more sustainable in many different ways," explained the designer.

"The quality of these virtual interiors is also so high now that you are starting to lose boundaries between the virtual and the real," she added.

"I think we'll start to see them blending in more with real-life interiors so that we create a mix."

Kelly Wearstler virtual design for Hummer EV
Interlocking bronze gates guard the virtual property

A 40-second-long concept video for the virtual interior shows an electric car driving through a desert landscape until it meets a set of interlocking bronze gates.

Past the gates, a canyon-style channel with sensor-controlled lights guides the car to a semi-underground parking bay.

A turntable lift then rises up with the car through a circular opening, slotting into the centre of an open plan living room above.

Hummer EV house garage by Kelly Wearstler
The Hummer EV sits next to a virtual Echo bench

Renders of real Wearstler-designed furniture, such as the Echo bench and Monolith side table, populate the virtual garage.

Renders of other pieces including Erik Olovsson's Drill Vases a Loop Chair by Willy Guhl and Jan Ekselius' Etcetera Chair also feature.

Virtual furniture in the Hummer EV garage
Virtual furniture includes a Loop Chair by Willy Guhl

For design inspiration, Wearstler blended midcentury architecture styles such as brutalism and modernism with futuristic sci-fi elements.

"I really wanted the visuals to have a retro-futuristic vibe that draws on the spirit of California," said Wearstler

"Some of the most iconic sci-fi films from the 1960s and 70s inspired the project like Ridley Scott's Alien and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey," she added.

"There is a really strong influence from California's modernist architecture too, particularly John Lautner's Palm Springs house, and the design of the Hummer EV, which influenced the architectural form, huge skylight and bronze accents."

Bronze virtual garage in the desert
The bronze virtual garage is depicted in the California desert landscape

The Hummer EV is carmaker GMC's first electric vehicle. Described by the brand as a "supertruck" the electric car will be able to drive off-road and even in a diagonal direction.

The liveable garage is also part of a new trend of designers working with luxury vehicles. David Adjaye recently design five Aston Martin-themed residences for his New York skyscraper 130 William.

Virgil Abloh has designed a concept car for Mercedes Benz, and Thomas Heatherwick unveiled a concept sketch for an electric car for Chinese car brand IM Motors.

Images courtesy of Kelly Wearstler.

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