ArtCenter & IMVU – Designing Rooms to Help Connect People

At IMVU, we are constantly thinking about how to help our users discover new people, help them to connect and become friends; and just have a great time chatting and hanging out.

Recently, we worked together with ArtCenter College of Design, one of the world’s premier art and design schools located in Pasadena, California, and launched a studio partnership to give students the opportunity to design 3D experiences that promote social connections. Students enrolled in the “Online Avatars & Digital Landscapes” course designed solutions to business challenges associated with motivating communication in a mixed-reality world.

“IMVU seeks to help our global community build real-life connections in virtual environments,” said Victor Zaud, SVP of marketing at IMVU and an ArtCenter alumnus. “We provide an interactive space where millions of users experience 3D creations and connect with one another on a deeper level beyond chating. As society increasingly relies on online environments to connect, we’re dedicated to partnering with the young innovators who are designing the communication platforms of the future.”

During the 14-week ArtCenter IMVU course, upper term students are learning about the history of human communication and understanding the necessary elements needed for people to socialize and develop friendships. Through a series of research assignments, investigative field trips, and making workshops, students are proposing interactive experiences that help the IMVU community to connect in new ways.

“ArtCenter has a long history of bringing students and brands together to create valuable immersive learning experiences,” said Maggie Hendrie, chair of Interaction Design at ArtCenter. “Year after year, companies like Adidas, Jaguar and Google collaborate with our students and faculty in order to stay relevant and competitive.”

By examining how IMVU users guide their digital characters and interact with others in the community, student teams assembled an initial hypothesis to eliminate friction, improve conversation and foster common bonds. Students are building tools, environments, avatars, and associated creative elements such as fashion pieces or room décor, to test their assumptions. Guided by expert faculty, students are testing and iterating their designs, in real-time, within IMVU’s live platform.


Team 1 – My Blog Story
Like the vision boards of the 90s, introducing something new designed by one of our student projects. What if your own room told your story…what you like, what you feel, what you dream. Get to know Team 1, Lizzie in her Blog room.

Lizzie’s Story Room »


Team 2 – Concentric design

The team proposed that the “architecture” and design of a room could inspire people to interact differently. They created three kinds of rooms that have different goals. 

Lipstick Review »

The Roasted Room » 

The Matchmaker Room » 

Team 3 – Labyrinth
Oh but which way to go to get through the Labyrinth. The further you go, the more you find. Check out this student project which leads to friends on the other side. 

The Labyrinth » 


Team 4 – “Professions” Training
From our Student Project Series: This Vlogging room is the place that allows you to learn about being a Vlogger by role-playing and experimenting with #food #makeup #travel vlogger. 

InfoBox Room »


Team 5 – EZ3D
Last one from our Student Project Series: EZ 3D Room is a tutorial space that teaches you how to create realistic 3D rooms, fashion accessories, and furniture objects to start the conversation. 

EZ3D Instruction Room »

We’re currently promoting these rooms and will be measuring how long users are spending in the rooms and students are observing behavior to learn about the effects and outcomes of their hypotheses. We’ll be updating this blog post with the final results and what they learned.


“The IMVU studio is an empowering educational experience because it expands student design skills by allowing them to immediately build and test concepts with millions of people in a live, 3D social environment,” said Jenny Rodenhouse, assistant professor, director of the Immersion Lab at ArtCenter and faculty of the IMVU studio class.

We love how the students immediately explored rooms and then started learning how to Create. Students were committed, some spending hours watching videos from our YouTube Creator playlist and others reading tutorials from the Creator Education Center. We couldn’t believe after just a few weeks, some students were creating mesh-heads already.

Ming Tai, associate professor, faculty director of Graphics Design and Illustration, and faculty of the IMVU studio class, added, “The student teams learn to ideate, design, release, and repeat, iterating on new scenarios that have received real-time feedback. Students are learning how their work can actually facilitate digital socializing within IMVU, not hypothetically.”

With our recent launch of Live Rooms and the ability to create Live Events, it’s even easier to get a lot of people to come to your room. Students were able to quickly deploy rooms with arrangements they wanted to test and then by promoting them in the Feed, users started checking them out. In real time, many students hung out in their rooms and watched to see what other people would think and do. Changes could then essentially be made in real time.

“IMVU has been working to spread the power of friendship for over 15 years. It’s not easy to create the warmth of a friend’s smile or the visceral excitement of a concert in a digital world but they’ve made great progress as the world’s leading avatar-centric social network. I’m excited to see them partner with premiere institutions like ArtCenter to push forward the cutting edge and help millions more feel a greater sense of belonging,” adds Shawn Carolan, partner at Menlo Ventures.

We love being able to inspire design students and students of all areas of study to explore IMVU and push the platform to do new things. We are inspired ourselves, by these innovative concepts that provide new insights into how users can connect more easily through the platform and in different, even surprising ways. IMVU may be coming to your high-school or university soon!


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