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This Dubai-based VC invested $5 million in an NFT art gallery. Is it worth it?

Featuring futuristic design codes, the new gallery will feature movable walls, and a secret metaverse room

This Dubai-based VC invested $5 million in an NFT art gallery. Is it worth it?
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

In the traditional art world, patterns and systems have had a long time to solidify and become what they are. With NFTs being new, platforms still growing, figuring things out, and the community still growing, the art is reshaping the market. It’s a billion-dollar business.

But the craze begs the question: does a gallery validate NFTs as legitimate art? To advocates of the NFT world, the technology offers a revolutionary new way of selling art and building a community.

Morningstar Ventures, a Dubai-based investment firm specializing in digital assets, recently invested $5 million in the region’s first interactive and immersive art gallery, 37xDubai, which is set to open its doors soon. 

“The idea of 37xDubai is a combination of the topics we are most excited about, such as Web 3.0 adoption, education, entertainment, art, brand collaborations, and creativity. It will amplify our reach within Web3 communities,” says Danilo S. Carlucci, co-founder and CEO of Morningstar Ventures. 

WHY INVEST IN A PHYSICAL SPACE FOR INTANGIBLE ASSETS?

With a focus on a curated collection of art mixed with digital experiences, Carlucci claims the gallery will offer more than a mainstream exhibition space. He is looking to start a new community and kickstart a movement.

“Our investment decision was not led by following a specific trend. Interest in crypto, blockchain, and NFTs has been declining over 2022, but this is not something that concerns us. 37xDubai will connect people in the real world and inspire and bring new ideas to fruition. Our investment was guided by the potential of creating an aesthetically beautiful location in a growing ecosystem like Dubai that will bring together a new and diverse community,” adds Carlucci. 

NOT JUST ANOTHER ART GALLERY 

Named after the co-founder’s favorite number, 37, Clemence Cazeau, CEO of 37xDubai, says the “x” was added to the number to indicate the technical aspect of the brand. “The ‘x’ signifies an ROI of that multiple, which is another clue that at heart we are investors, and 37x is a business,” she adds.

Built to provide visitors with an interactive experience, Cazeau assures the gallery’s futuristic design codes with the picturesque views of Dubai, which will leave visitors with much more. The gallery will feature movable walls to leverage a modular experience of the space and adapt it based on the requirements of different exhibitions. Other offbeat features of the gallery include office spaces, a bar, and a “secret metaverse room.” 

“We have tried to build an attractive and minimalistic place to leave enough room for our artworks and colored digital artifacts to shine. Dubai’s beautiful desert inspires the beige color that we have used across some of our designs, and we hope it will give our visitors a sense of comfort and calmness while they explore our space and are exposed to our disruptive ideas,” says Cazeau.

IS IT FOR EVERYONE?

The success of NFTs is affirmed by a strong sense of community, which the founders say is the same idea for the gallery. However, they say the space will be palatable to everyone’s tastes.

“We had our ideal visitors in mind when building our space, and clearly, these individuals understand that the world is fast-moving, ever-changing, and becoming increasingly digital. The community we are seeding will be a mix of art enthusiasts,” says Cazeau. 

Simply put, he adds that it will be a space for those who have an open mind and are looking to experiment with a taste of future technologies. 

For the investors, things that stand out about the NFT gallery business are that it’s a complex concept to set up, build, and finance and an innovative business model. “So while it comes with a great opportunity, it’s also untested and unproven, which makes the investment riskier,” says Cazeau.  

“Big ideas always come with challenges,” she adds. 

As the digital art world continues to mature, the lines of what a gallery is will continue to blur. Will this trend see more NFT galleries in the region? Only time will tell. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Clare McGrath Dawson is a Senior Correspondent at Fast Company Middle East who writes on tech, design, and culture. More

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