Meet the creator bringing real design to The Sims

Sophisticated interior design and video games might seem like disparate worlds, but there’s one place where the two overlap: The Sims. The game, which allows users to build and decorate homes – becoming interior designers as part of its gameplay – attracts a large contingent of design enthusiasts eager to create carefully crafted virtual worlds for their characters.

The Sims, developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts, debuted in 2000 as a spin-off of the popular city-building PC game SimCity. There, users have built a virtual metropolis. The Sims offered a more intimate approach, with users guiding an imaginary family through the mundane (career challenges and chores) to the fantastic (through game add-ons, players can make their Sims become mermaids or vampires). The Sims is a huge success: its four versions have sold more than 200 million copies in 60 countries.

Since the game’s launch, building homes from scratch has immediately appealed to those interested in architecture and design. However, the offers available for furnishing and decoration are often, to say the least, uninspiring. To bridge the gap, gamers took matters into their own hands – a cottage industry of fan-made downloadable collections of chic furniture and architectural finishes, designed by gamers who loved both gaming and home decor, has born.

A room on The Sims designed by HarrieCourtesy of Harrie

One of these players is a content creator Harry (who, as is common in the gaming community, prefers to use her first or social media name, @HeyHarrie), a graphic designer who now makes her living designing and selling stylish lines of virtual furniture and decorations , as well as decorated houses ready to download for the game. His recent creations include a brutalist bathroom collection, a series of furniture inspired by the design influencer Athena CalderoneBrooklyn brownstone, and even a luxurious treehouse designed in partnership with Gucci (yes, this Gucci) to coincide with The Sims: Off The Grid edition.

Harrie says the lack of sophistication in the game’s preloaded decoration options is what has caused designers like her to come up with fancier options. “Their designs have improved over the years, but they lack texture and their color palettes tend to be super saturated and bright,” says Harrie. “That’s not what people want. People love neutrals, they are crowd favorites. »

Harrie is both a gamer and a huge design fan, citing publications like The world of interiors and the European editions of Architectural Summary to luxury brands like Gaggenau as sources of inspiration. “I get so many design magazines and have a collection of interior design books plus I spend hours every day scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration,” says Harrie.

Harrie has always had a passion for interior design and started creating custom builds for The Sims, which she has been playing since the game launched in 2017. She has built a following on YouTube, where she posts time lapse videos of herself creating houses and furniture. Many of his videos have over 60,000 views, with some hitting the hundreds of thousands. Like so many creators, she’s also amassed a dedicated Instagram following.

She opened a Patreon account in August 2020 and was able to quit her day job and become a full-time content creator for the game. As part of the game’s user agreement, players are technically not supposed to use The Sims for profit. To circumvent this policy, Harrie and creators like her have found a specific workaround: She charges her designs for a month before releasing them for free (her sets are $5 each, with options to pay up to $20 if players feel generous and want to offer more financial support).

A kitchen for The Sims designed by Harrie

A kitchen for The Sims designed by HarrieCourtesy of Harrie

Interestingly, the fact that the drawings will eventually be free doesn’t seem to hamper people’s willingness to pay, a fact Harrie attributes to the older demographics of his audience. “EA tends to market the game to teenagers, but in my experience a lot of people over 30 play The Sims – people who have money to spend on expansion packs and additions to make the game more enjoyable for themselves,” says Harrie.

Harrie says it takes about three months to take a concept from idea to completion. She found great pleasure in creating specific interior design details like weathered kitchen hardware and bifold doors. While Harrie draws inspiration from real-life designs (she’ll sometimes post side-by-side photos of her Sims bedrooms alongside photos of real ones for comparison), she says the issue of copyright infringement has never been around. raised. “Ultimately, it’s just inspiration and I’m never exactly true to the original design,” she says.

Looking ahead, Harrie has several custom builds for an upcoming expansion pack, The Sims 4: My Marriage Stories, which she designed in a more formal capacity. She says EA has even acquired some of her furniture designs and added them to the base game, but they’re not slowing down their indie designs anytime soon. “I’m working on a Parisian-style apartment influenced by the work of [French architect and designer] joseph Diran and I plan to create a collection inspired by my Ghanaian heritage, which will be released in the fall,” she says. “Because it’s my job now, I can’t really play the game anymore, but players have told me that they would have stopped playing without my creations. That other people can get as much pleasure out of what I do, it’s worth it.

Homepage photo: A bedroom for The Sims inspired by design influencer Athena Calderone’s townhouse | Courtesy of Harrie

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