Will the extraordinary rise of NFTs continue in 2022?


The NFTs have experienced a meteoric rise this year but continue to divide opinion. As part of our 2021 review, Dezeen is reaching out to both sides of the debate to explore what the future of NFTs might look like in 2022.

Digital fashion designer Amber Slooten believes non-fungible tokens (NFTs) allow artists to “take[e] reclaim ownership of their work, ”with the potential to create“ a new company ”through the digital asset certification system.

But cryptocurrency reporter David Gerard told Dezeen that the industry is already plagued with nefarious activity and will soon be “absolutely destroyed by the authorities.”

NFT sales flourished in 2021 with many traditional design fairs, including Milan Design Week postponed or canceled altogether due to coronavirus restrictions.

DTVs entered the mainstream in the second half of the year

Earlier this year, Argentinian 3D artist Andrés Reisinger sold a virtual piece of furniture for nearly $ 70,000 in an NFT online auction and a collage by American artist Beeple broke records when it was sold for $ 69million (£ 50million).

In April, 3D artist Alexis Christodoulou announced that NFTs were entering a new frontier.

“We are right at the start of the border,” he told Dezeen. “It’s an opportunity to create something beautiful because you are in charge again. “

Top: The Manufacturer’s digital clothing collection. Above: The upcoming Adidas collection will include digital and physical clothing

However, it is in the last six months that demand for NFT has really taken off. Independent designers have been joined in the space by brands such as Adidas, which recently announced that their upcoming collection will include both digital and physical items that can be sold as NFTs.

Facebook’s rebranding to Meta in October 2021 brought the NFT phenomenon into public consciousness. The rebranding confirmed that the metaverse – a digital world where people can live lives parallel to their real existence – is here to stay.

It is therefore not surprising that Collins Dictionary chose “NFT” as the word of the year.

“Artists pushed the boundaries of NFTs during lockdowns”

NFTs are the unique identifier that records ownership of a digital asset, such as an image, using the same blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Designers can create items such as clothing, artwork, or even houses as a video, jpeg, or gif and then sell the property – which is separate from the right to author – as NFT.

Importantly, the token cannot be exchanged for any other form of cryptocurrency, and designers can sell their work directly to clients on platforms such as OpenSea.

According to Slooten, co-founder of The Manufacturer – who made history two years ago when he sold the first digital fashion garment – the NFTs captured the zeitgeist in 2021 as life changed. firmly in line amid continued coronavirus lockdowns.

“In 2019, when we sold our first dress on a blockchain as NFT, no one really knew it was called NFT,” she told Dezeen. “It gives a good understanding of what the world was like before covid.”

“Because of covid, we’ve had this gigantic wave of digital – digital property, digital places, digital products,” she reflected. “I think it was because we couldn’t leave our homes that there had to be another mode of commerce.”

London-based visualization artist Charlotte Taylor agrees, noting that she owes part of the success of her NFT projects such as Architoys to the unique social climate of 2021.

“In the last year of containment, artists have pushed the boundaries of what NFTs once were, designing creative outputs, processes and afterlife for the pieces,” Taylor told Dezeen.

“I think these bold moves have increased demand and created more curiosity about NFTs across a broader spectrum and a wider audience,” she added.

Charlotte Taylor's Architoys
Charlotte Taylor developed a fantastic architecture project called Architoys

Slooten is an NFT champion. She argues that many designers are drawn to the format for its democratizing characteristics.

“What excited me the most about this is that we are creating a new company [of designers]”Slooten told Dezeen.” Everything looks really new with platforms like Open Sea serving as a portal to this new world. “

It is a sentiment shared by others within the industry. Monty Preston, Curator of The Other Avatars of Saatchi Art, a platform of avatars designed by professional artists, highlights how the blockchain technology behind NFTs enables better traceability of the authenticity and ownership of designs. .

“NFTs are revolutionizing the way creators are paid for their work,” said Preston.

“With the introduction of digital scarcity and the ownership provided by NFTs, we can now establish authenticity and provenance, and pay royalties to artists on every sale of their work. “

Investor and expert reviews

However, not everyone is so enthusiastic about the potential of NFTs to democratize the world of design. Despite their meteoric rise, they remain the subject of criticism of the environmental impact of power-hungry blockchains and of ridicule that even though an NFT cannot be replicated, the digital file it is associated with can still be freely copied and downloaded.

The nature of the NFT market has also drawn criticism from suspicious investors and experts who say it is subject to the same concerns about money laundering and lack of regulation as cryptocurrencies.

This week alone, acclaimed multimedia artist Brian Eno called the NFT world “suckers looking for suckers” in an interview with The Crypto Syllabus.

“We have to be careful to distinguish between two things,” said cryptocurrency reporter Gerard. “One is the fabulous hypothetical future possibilities of what you might do with NFTs in some future sense. And second, the actual NFT market that we have, which is awful and reprehensible in just about every way. “

He claims that the NFT market is artificially inflated by those seeking to exploit it for money laundering purposes through fictitious transactions. As a result, the actual potential financial benefits for designers are lower than they appear.

“I’m all for artists to get money … but one of the problems is that they often don’t. A lot of artists go into NFT, they think it is. finally their chance to move forward and they don’t realize how much of the whole market is wrong, ”he says.

Ultimately, Gerard predicts a heavy comeback to Earth for the NFT market as governments prepare to introduce more regulation.

“I can’t wait for this market to be absolutely destroyed by the authorities, as possible as it is, so people can keep doing cool stuff,” he said.

Head of Amber Slooten
Amber Slooten says NFTs have the potential to give “the agency of creativity back to the people”. The photo is by Valentina Vos

So, what future for NFTs in 2022? There is no doubt that designs are increasingly done in a virtual setting.

Taylor, who is currently working on developments for his imaginary home Casa Atibaia, believes that next year, NFTs will help broaden the appeal of the Metaverse.

“The metaverse will be very prevalent in new architecture and design projects, spanning the fields of retail and fashion,” she said.

“Ironically, I’m a lover of analog technologies, so seeing the interplay and relationship between the metaverse and reality will be the most curious thing for me.”

Slooten also envisions a year in which NFTs become mainstream, with non-designers increasingly realizing the potential to create digital designs on their own. She cites The Manufacturer Studio as an example, the new platform that will launch next year on The Manufacturer, where people can create clothes and sell them as NFTs.

“It gives the agency of creativity back to people,” she explained. “We’re really excited to enable this new creative economy and create a new fashion ecosystem that doesn’t tap into but accelerates and creates more wealth for everyone.”


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