We’re excited to announce our investment in Primer, a new way to help people and companies design exceptional spaces.
People have always been influenced by their environments. The spaces we spend time in can cultivate creativity, build human connection, inspire joy, or even be sources for health and wellness. This has never been more true than it is today.
Russ and Adam came to us with the vision of using technology and design to help people, professionals, and manufacturers create more amazing spaces. Their backgrounds as designers and engineers makes them uniquely suited to bring new tools to a space that badly needs design innovation. Below is our interview with Russ and Adam discussing why they decided to build this company, how new technology can transform this industry, and their hope for the type of impact they want to create in the world.
Russ: Like many people, I'm constantly looking for ways to improve my space and make it work better for my needs. I’ve spent lots of time on Instagram and Pinterest hunting for inspiration, but even when I find it I’m left frustrated. It’s almost impossible to visualize what those inspiring ideas would look like in my space.
Our mobile devices are now smart enough to understand and transform our environment in real time. Adam and I both saw an opportunity to create a tool that makes it easy to visualize changes so you can play with your space.
Along the way we discovered visualization is not only a consumer challenge, but also a business problem. Decor brands spend 10% or more of their revenue on sampling programs and design support to help customers make decisions.
We believe computer vision and augmented reality are perfectly matched to this challenge. So in early 2019 we teamed up to start building Primer. We aim to become the app you open any time you want to reimagine your space.
How are you using design and technology to create a better experience for both consumers and industry professionals?
Adam: Our app is at its core an AR experience. It’s relatively easy to build a flashy AR demo or prototype that works within specific constraints with one person guiding it. It’s a significant design and technical challenge to capture that promise, and make it polished and reliable enough to ship.
Our users will play with the app in spaces we’ve never tested, with unique dimensions and layouts, and expect the experience to work seamlessly.
For a lot of people this might be their first AR experience. I remember reading about applications that shipped with the first Macintosh that “trained” people how to use the mouse. It seems ingrained knowledge now, but if you were a developer of an original Macintosh application you had to keep in mind that your average user has little-to-experience with a GUI.
All of these core challenges make the design challenge as important as the core technology. We invested getting that fundamental experience right, because it unlocked the opportunity for people to re-imagine their home.
As we’re a digital tool without real-world constraints, we can show hundreds of different paint colors, tiles, and wallpapers at full-scale at realistic-looking fidelity.
For consumers, this means you no longer have to imagine what that small sample you got in the mail looks like stretched across your wall or with that piece of furniture. And if you were inspired by a new idea, you can now visualize that instantly.
For brands and pros, this makes the process of working with clients and potential customers faster and less expensive. Traditionally, they would work in a 3D software like SketchUp to rebuild a client’s home with the proposed changes. Not only was this time-intensive but it didn’t provide an accurate preview of how that material would behave in that space. Now, they can close a sale or collaborate with a client with a visual preview that instills more confidence.
What role do you hope Primer can play in this new environment many people are spending a lot of time at home?
Russ: This is an unsettling time. It’s important that we love our home now more than ever. We hope Primer can help people create spaces that serve their needs and bring them joy and well being.
In February we saw the trade shows cancel one-by-one. Then the shops and showrooms were forced to close. Adam and I knew this could be devastating for the decor and design industry. We hope we can help businesses adapt to this new reality by giving them a digital way to showcase their products in vivid detail for potential customers.
We never would have chosen to launch during a pandemic, but we felt we had an opportunity to do some good by getting Primer out into the world right now.
Russ: We believe it shouldn’t be hard to create a space you love. In five years I hope we’ve given millions of people the ability to create a better space for themselves.
We want to help thousands of businesses big and small virtualize, showcase, and sell their products directly in people’s homes all over the world, reducing carbon emissions and waste.
We want to prove these technologies can be a powerful force for enabling, democratizing, and scaling design services. We see enormous opportunities to enhance the professional designers toolkit.
Ultimately we see Primer becoming the place people, professionals, and manufacturers come together to create amazing spaces.