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The Present Is Digital: Six N. Five On Their Refined Imagination, NFTs, And Provoking Viewers

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The creativity of Barcelona-based 3D design studio Six N. Five is more than mesmerizing—it infuses digital art with a modern sensibility and a riveting combination of realism and fiction. Through a rigorous process of rendering landscapes and objects, they create a window into a world where limits are transcended. Over Zoom, founder and director Ezequiel Pini discusses the studio’s “soft, conceptual, and provocative” aesthetic while making predictions on the future of digital art.

Born in Buenos Aires, Pini started Six N. Five seven years ago. With international commissions starting to pour in, the designer relocated to Spain to combat the growing demand and expand his portfolio. Today, the studio specializes in still life visuals, objects, videos, art direction, and set design, bridging art and design through minimal, surreal creations. The practice counts global brands such as Nike, Samsung, Microsoft, and Uniqlo amongst their clients, making it one of the most sought-after creative studios of our time.

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

“The name represents the 6.05hs that can be either AM or PM; the time where a new phase begins,” Pini explains to IGNANT. “Before creating the studio, I worked together with agencies and producers; 6.05 was the time to get home from the job to start working on what I liked.” We talk with the director from their new office in Barcelona, which he proudly shows us through Zoom. A delight to the eye, it is an airy and multifunctional workplace defined by muted tones and stone textures. “This space appeared by chance, it used to be a restaurant, and just by imagining them, the possibilities were endless,” he explains. “We got together with [interior and architecture studio] Isern Serra to help us with the design and construction, while Alga Studio helped us to visualize our ideas.”

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

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Six N. Five Studio, Barcelona | Image © Salva López

Monochromatic and light, the office is an exciting antipode to the colorful worlds created within the computer screens dotting the workspace. Ever since the studio blazed into the digital world in 2014, Six N. Five has become synonymous with pastel-hued dreamscapes and vibrant impossible architectures that allude to the endless possibilities of CGI. “The essence [of our work] has remained the same since [the studio’s inception],” Pini is quick to point out. “We like to generate images that are beautiful, well executed, and without an excessive use of resources and compositions.” Their poetic visuals range from realistic interiors over utopian fictional spaces to meditative environments, such as harmonic gardens and ethereal seascapes, in which man-made structures and nature coexist.

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'The Japanese Garden' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'The Japanese Garden' | CGI © Six N. Five

Combining surreal architectural configurations with realistic objects, Six N. Five achieves a delight that is impossible to be found in the tangible world surrounding us. The studio’s ethos is pretty simple: Six N. Five wants viewers to dream and engage with their senses. “We like to generate images that can provoke something in the viewer; a feeling of pleasure, of disgust, of curiosity,” Pini tells us. “When you stop everything you are doing to think or smile, the feeling that moment produces, that is what encompasses a successful digital experience,” he continues. Even if just for a fleeting moment, escaping reality is gripping to the studio. “One of the things that thrills us the most is being able to create new spaces and experiences through images, videos, and virtual reality experiences that allow us to imagine something different from what we are used to—be it a space or a situation in which unexpected things happen that can be related to the world of dreams,” he shares.

"One of the things that thrills us is spaces and experiences that allow us to imagine something different from what we are used to"
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'Dream Spaces' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'Dream Spaces' | CGI © Six N. Five

In a time still affected by COVID-19, CGI has become ever more relevant in feeding into our imaginations, offering a chance to wonder and escape. “Digital art and experiences have been evolving with a great deal of research over the past ten years,” Pini comments; “but the pandemic has forced this digital evolution to be highly exponential. Not only because of the tasks and operations that have been forced to be solved digitally, but also because of the fact of being at home and finding leisure and pleasure in a single place. Exhibitions, galleries, museums, and concerts are experiences that can no longer be explored as they were before,” he adds.

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'Organic House' | CGI @ Six N. Five

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'Badminton Chair' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'Mesh' | CGI © Six N. Five

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Throughout the chaotic goings-on of today, Pini has remained optimistic and rekindled the human desire for sensory connection and escapism. Their recent multi-stage project ‘What If’, for example, imagines a speculative new space-age in a collection of three acts, titled ‘the journey’, ‘the settlements’, and ‘the encounter’. Featuring spaceshifts and futuristic homes, Six N. Five lets our imagination run wild as we seek to envision the next steps of humankind. “The project plays with the human obsession of knowing if we will be able to live in space or not in the future,” explains Pini. “Our tool’s freedom has allowed us to forget about all kinds of limitations and scales, and really visualize a space that may seem impossible to the eyes of science, but pleasurable for those of us who like to dream for a while,” he says.

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'What If?' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'What If?' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'What If?' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'What If?' | CGI © Six N. Five

Coherent with their vision and truly astounding, is their project ‘The Revolt’, which was started in the early months of the pandemic. An experimental film and immersive architectural world to be explored in virtual reality, it features calming interior settings taken by storm by animated household objects which are revolting and escaping their primary roles. In the words of Pini, “the idea was to give prominence to everyday functional objects that a simple aesthetic decision makes us always want to hide them—they are the protagonists of this revolution.” Commenting on the concept of revolt, the designer shares that “hidden behind the story of this revolution, there is a parallel with our present day. Was it digital art that was hidden and avoided? Perhaps we are also facing a new revolution. What if this revolution has already started with the NFT? Will the value or importance of material art change?” he asks.

"Perhaps we are facing a new revolution. Will the value or importance of material art change?"
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'The Revolt' | CGI © Six N. Five

'The Revolt' | CGI © Six N. Five

'The Revolt' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'The Revolt' | CGI © Six N. Five

Unique digital assets that exist on the blockchain, Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are “a major technological breakthrough that allows authenticating anything in a transparent and secure way,” explains Pini—a digital stamp guaranteeing the traceability, provenance, and authenticity of a work of art through on-chain transactions, they make it possible to apply ownership to digital items. “It is in the early stages of discovery and in the process of development, but, amazingly, it has already made a revolution in the world of art and collectibles within this short period of time,” he continues. With a rapid adoption by a young audience attentive to new technologies, NFTs are mainly pursued for financial goals; their prices have soared in recent months, making headlines for incredible sales, and feeding the hype around them.

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'Dreaming' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'Balance' | CGI © Six N. Five

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'Atelier' | CGI © Six N. Five

Six N. Five has been involved in the NFT space for quite some time, and certainly before the recent wave. Their collaboration with New York City-based artist Daniel Arsham—known for his eroded classical sculptures made of plaster and crystals—is a prime example. In development since 2019 and released in May 2021, the collaboration is one of the first to use NFT as a medium to generate a unique, temporal piece that evolves over time. Composed of ten sculptures operating on different time frames, the digital experience showcases an ancient sculpture slowly disintegrating within a courtyard, until it resurrects in tandem with the changing of seasons. “It is a piece that changes as time goes by. Its sculptures will be more eroded depending on the season we are currently in; in the same way, the environment will be updated,” Pini explains, adding that “it is a dynamic work that will last forever.” The collection was released on Nifty Gateway, a marketplace for NFTs. “Smart technology has advanced to make this possible, and this work shows one more example of all the possibilities that the world of NFT has ahead,” he adds.

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NFT Collaboration with Daniel Arsham | CGI © Six N. Five

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NFT Collaboration with Daniel Arsham | CGI © Six N. Five

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“The human mind is limitless; there are always new ways to speak of human experience”

Just like the lure of 3D design, the phenomenon of crypto art is part of our present moment, and as such will find its place within all aspects of our culture and society. Contrasting against skepticism that the bubble may soon burst, Pini remains confident that the current craze about digital ownership is “definitely here to stay”, if not the beginning of something bigger. With a lot still to bring to the wider art community, digital art and NFTs remain both a way to reimagine the economy and a chance to open up the floodgates for designers to be more complex and multifaceted. “The human mind is limitless; there are always new ways to speak of human experience,” he concludes.

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'Dream Spaces' | CGI © Six N. Five

Studio images © Salva López | 3D Visuals © Six N. Five