Visual design

Handcrafted imagery for architectural visualization – Interview with Depth Per Image

Providing unique expertise to communicate architectural concepts, Depth Per Image sparks debate and inspiration with tailored images.

Having a focused specialisation within architectural visualisation, Sonny Holmberg started Depth Per Image studio to capture concepts and ideas into visual storytelling, serving as a partner for ambitious architects by contributing with unique ‘handcrafted imagery’. 

Depth Per Image aims to make an impact on the industry by sparking debate and inspiration with the high commercial value of diverse handcrafted stories, rather than a generic output from a mass produced appearance.

DesignWanted had the opportunity to interview Sonny Holmberg and talk about his work, future trends within architectural visualization, and some of the projects that Depth Per Image studio is currently working on.

Depth Per Image - Vejlandskvarteret Balcony
‘Fælledby’ project proposal by Henning Larsen

Who is Sonny Holmberg? How did the journey for architectural concepts visualization begin? 

Sonny Holmberg: “I’m a Danish architect with a great passion for image making. The journey to where I am now started during my studies. As an architecture student you constantly need to present and convince others about your designs and ideas.

A strong idea will simply only be strong when it’s communicated in a convincing and clear manner. With this demand for strong representation of my architectural ideas the passion for mastering visual storytelling emerged. My early career as an architect started with working on competitions and my ability to visualise concepts naturally turned me towards focusing on this part of the process.

From there I began a focused specialisation within architectural visualisation through a variety of job experiences across Europe, eventually leading me back home to Denmark, where I was heading the in-house visualisation department at Henning Larsen, before starting up my own studio.”

Depth Per Image - tromso interior
Tromsø Museum in Norway, project development by Henning Larsen

Why Depth Per Image, why visualization solutions? 

Sonny Holmberg: “One thing for sure that led me to pursue this career path is the passion. During my studies I saw visual storytelling as a bit of a hobby that could help enhance the quality of my architectural projects.

Pursuing a professional career in something you consider a hobby, I believe is a personal goal for many – myself included. My studio, Depth Per Image, serves as a partner for ambitious architects, with whom we share the same values. I believe that strong concepts and ideas are something unique.

No project is the same and capturing that uniqueness of each project, is what we strive to do. Ultimately the goal is to make a great impact on our industry, help moving it in new directions and sparking debate and inspiration with our work.”

Sonny Holmberg - Terroir Exterior
North West Museum and Art Gallery in Tasmania, project by Terroir

Depth Per Image creates still images, 360° VR, motion graphics, and animations to bring concept stories alive, when and how did your work start getting recognition? 

Sonny Holmberg: “Since the beginning of my career, I’ve always felt a big appreciation and recognition from colleagues and fellow students towards what I was doing. I like to inspire others and I get inspired by the work of others myself.

The broader recognition of my work came from sharing my work and how I work. It always felt natural to share and luckily today’s social media and online blog platforms have made it possible to share content with a broad audience. It encourages me a lot to see my work being widely appreciated and inspiring for others.”

Interested in Architectural Visualization? Don’t miss How Antony Gibbon is pushing the boundaries of architectural design

Sonny Holmberg - HLA interior
Competition proposal for Germany, architecture by Henning Larsen

Having created imagery for projects of architectural firms such as Jürgen Engel Architekten, Morris+Company, and Henning Larsen Architects. How do you choose the type of client to work with? 

Sonny Holmberg: “I wouldn’t say you always get to choose your clients. Clients should see the advantage in my way of approaching visualisation for their project. I see myself as a sparring partner that contributes with a unique expertise to the project.

The clients who believe that I can provide that unique difference for their project and support my ideas as an artist, are also the ones receiving outstanding and unique results. Depth Per Image tailors each project to specifically communicate clients’ concepts in the clearest possible way through ‘handcrafted imagery’.”

Sonny Holmberg - HLA iCampus courtyard
iCampus proposal in Munich, architecture by Henning Larsen

Nowadays there are common trends and styles within architectural visualization. How do you maintain originality?

Sonny Holmberg: “Today visualisation is a crucial part of any project in the architecture and design industry. Unfortunately, the big demand and easy-to-use visualisation tools have moved the visualisation industry to a point where the output is often generic and uniform, dictated by software rather than the artist resulting in a mass produced appearance.

To create something that stands out and conveys something of originality is challenging, but ultimately why I decided to start my own studio.

The key for me in order to achieve something out of the ordinary is to follow my instinct as an artist and most importantly to be able to read between the lines of a client’s brief, to find what truly will make a difference for a specific project.”

Sonny Holmberg - Vxj Front
WeXo proposal in Sweden, architecture by Henning Larsen

As tools evolve, visualizations engage the receiver by triggering emotions and memories that we can relate to. What do you think about the main trends & future directions within architectural visualization? 

Sonny Holmberg: “The architectural visualisation industry is still relatively young and evolves rapidly and surely it will continue like that. The tools used in the industry are getting more and more advanced and at the same time easier to use.

I believe what’s important in this development is to see the tools as an extension of your arm, helping you to bring your ideas to life. Not the other way around. The tools must not dictate how the result will look. I believe the mind is and will always be the greatest tool for any artist. 

Human’s have created still images for thousands of years. The origin of accurate three-dimensional drawing dates back to Brunelleschi’s invention of the linear perspective in the early renaissance.

Today, perspective is drawn with computers instead of hand drawings. I think in terms of technical evolution, we will eventually see more interactive and cross disciplinary solutions, meaning more immersive experiences, created by teams with even broader and more diverse knowledge across different industries and areas of expertise. 

My personal hope for the near future of the industry is to see more diversity rather than uniform mass production. I believe clients and stakeholders will realise the high commercial value of a strong handcrafted story rather than a vast amount of non explaining content.”

Would you like to know more about the future of architectural models? Have a look at Breaking the architectural paradigm with Gilles Retsin

Sonny Holmberg - Agobili Exterior
Aghobili Spa Hotel in Abastumani, architecture by Henning Larsen

Specialized in evoking the future of architecture, design, and real estate, what is the next step for Depth Per Image?

Sonny Holmberg: “Right now the focus for Depth Per Image is to keep refining the craft of the artwork to make sure to deliver the best results possible for every project that we work on. Depth Per Image is still very young and in constant development to pursue greater results for every project we’re involved with. 

I was invited to give a keynote at the Architectural Visualization Day event in Gothenburg this year, but unfortunately, Covid-19 has cancelled this year’s event. Hopefully we will soon be able to again share and physically engage with the architectural and visualization community. 

I’m also working right now on a little non-commercial short film/animation project that I’m hoping to release in the near future. Stay tuned on social media for that!”

Sonny Holmberg - Stevns Drone
Stevns Klint proposal in Denmark, architecture by Henning Larsen
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