Gaspard Giroud – Putting virtual reality to work for New York real estate

Gaspard Giroud, originally from Lyon in France, arrived in New York eighteen years ago and has since recreated New York as a virtual reality world. And promoters, investors, tourists and brands just can’t get enough…

Gaspard Giroud – youthful and agile in his 40s – has little time to stand still. When he is not flying a helicopter for real estate reconnaissance trips, his passengers might be film crews. He recently produced overhead flight sequences of Manhattan for the next film by French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan. The Lyon-born architect, who trained at the Ecole de Paris-Belleville arrived in New York 18 years ago to take a master’s degree at Columbia University, is the creative force behind Garou, a virtual reality tool that has seduced users from all walks of life. For example, Steve Roth, the American property magnate (Vornado) is using it to transform Penn Station (Manhattan’s 2th largest after Central station) and it numbers Tesla and WeWork amongst its other clients. The California-based electric vehicle manufacturer uses the platform for its virtual boutique, in which users can check out the latest Tesla vehicles in virtual reality, open the vehicle doors and rotate the vehicles before their eyes. WeWork, the co-working specialist, commissioned Garou to model a virtual reality apartment for use as a marketing tool.

Flynyon, the company that revolutionised helicopter flights over Manhattan asked Garou to recreate its flight experience in virtual reality so that everyone can now feel the thrill and excitement of flying over the Big Apple – helicopter doors wide open – without even leaving the ground. In addition, the New York-based company is currently working on a deal with promoters in Paris to harness Garou’s VR prowess for a renovation project in the centre of the French capital.

VR model of Penn Station for Vornado.© Garou

Piranha and Public Square

Garou added VR to the range of real estate imaging expertise it has developed over many years. “Gaspard Giroud started out creating 2D images for New York real estate promoters”, explains Max Poussier, Garou’s content director, in the vast Wall Street loft that is home to group’s various offshoots and their studios. In 2009 with his associate Rob Sabatini, Giroud launched “design shop” Piranha, a graphic design studio specialising in promotional films for real estate companies. The company’s profile increased dramatically when it produced the acclaimed promotional short for the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Centre), built to replace the Twin Towers. Public Square, another of Garou’s companies, continues to work in the field of architecture design whilst Garou devotes itself to virtual reality.

Max Poussier, Garou’s content director. ©JGP

To fully grasp the power of Garou’s VR tool, users need to experience the surprisingly thrilling sensation of reality offered by its helicopter flight over Manhattan, or step to the very edge of a platform atop the Empire State Building – vertigo guaranteed! – looking down over the VR model of the city. Gaspard Giroud emphasises that the company is “obsessed by visual quality”. Garou definitely has the wind in its sails. Its order book is overflowing and Anish Kapoor, the famous Indian artist, has recently endorsed VR modelling by using it for his proposed “red tornado” at the Guggenheim Museum. Using Garou’s VR platform, it will offer an even truer experience than nature itself before the installation is even created in the real world.

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