“No one wants to live in a tiny, cramped, conventional shoebox, prison cell. We have to rethink how we design, create, relate to our spaces.”
Words spoken by engineer and designer at the MIT Media Lab, Hasier Larrea. At the Media Lab, He leads the Architectural Robotics research area, which focuses on creating a new generation of hyper efficient and responsive urban spaces. Most of you reading this probably live in an Urban space, and you can agree that design just hasn’t changed enough to meet the challenges of the modern world. More so for the category of the “Young professional, elderly, working class, single” individuals. As Larrea pointed out, cities are pricing you out. So much so that most have been forced to downsize to live in micro-trend – the most common in Nairobi being bedsitters, Servants Quarters or one bedroom apartments that really should be a bedroom.
Larrea highlights that Old solutions don’t and won’t solve recent problems. Key points that stood out in the presentation:
- We don’t need as much space as we think we need. You’re mostly surrounded by space killers like that bulky sofa set or a king size bed that takes up ¾ of your room. They great when we use them but they make you think that you need more space than you need
- that are made for the people who can afford them but need them. We’re not creating furniture that relates to our space, environment and needs, and can be afforded by someone living in a bedsitter in Donholm or a SQ in Lavington. Instead designers are making expensive, one off prototypes that can only be afforded by people who don’t need to downsize in the first place.
- The current designs require a process of transformation that can be exhausting instead of seamlessly blending into your routine.
With more than 54% of the world’s population now living in cities according to the U.N., many are learning how to make do with less – especially when it comes to smaller living and working spaces. Africa may not be where Hasier envisions, when it comes to robotics, however there are existing designs that designers on the continent can be inspired by. As Larrea puts it:
“Downsizing in square footage does not have to mean downsizing functionality or experience anymore.”
There are so many designers to choose from so we decided to narrow it down to some of the designs from the winners of the A Design Award 2016-107. This award is the first design award and competition in the world that was actively developed in order to create value for the participants. In addition, they compete for the award winners’ kit which is packed full of prizes that you can see on their website here (PS: furniture designers, the 2017-2018 entry is closing in two days, wink wink). the diverse international design accolade, which recognizes laureates under five different levels of distinction: platinum, gold, silver, bronze and iron, announces every year on April 15th.
Platinum A’ Design Award Winner for Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category in 2016
This self-standing structure can be used for a variety of functions, and comes with accessories such as hangers, trays, mirrors, hooks, pockets and shelves. By placing your possessions on display it forces you to ask the questions ‘What things do I really need?’. It’s transport-friendly and folds flat for storage purposes.
This bookshelf, which can also work as a partition, is made up by a multiplying and unlimited design that consists of a single unit. The flexibility of the product gives the owner the creative licence to make measures and forms that work for their space.
Combining aesthetics with functionality, the chair come stool can be stacked comfortably and pushed underneath a table to create space.
Golden A’ Design Award Winner for Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category in 2016
Multi-functional chair by Yi-An Hung, Yestudio
The chair can be modified to suit its environment setting. the four art installation pieces can create unlimited viewer’s experience and perspectives. It can be a tube, bench, table or even a box.
Multifunctional Sideboard by Peter Fritsch for CreateSpace
In response to the urban living space situation, this designer created an adaptable side board to make the most of current living spaces. it’s said to have the capability of replacing 10 furniture items such as dining table, kitchen working counter, coffee table, and a storage space.
Silver A’ Design Award Winner for Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category in 2016
Grow up Multifunctional Chair by Yong Zhang, Ya-nan Shi
The chair transforms from parenting chair to an adulating chair, making it sustainable and reduces on waste.
XX Stool Multifunctional by Emre Kayganacı
The multifunctional in the title stands for the three divergent functions this design offers. the stool also functions as storage space and a side table. In addition, it’s made of light material that’s easily collapsible for storage.
Bolina Room Divider by Alessandra Meacci
Wanting to introduce comfort and functionality to the small urban space, Meacci created a circular space divider, that can be used also to grow a vertical garden and a bookshelf. Easy to assemble or disassemble gives the user the flexibility to move it as desired.
MUT Multi-Purpose Table System by La Agencia
This design redefines the table by improving its performance and maximizing the dynamics of contemporary work. It offers support for the various activities in the modern space.
Capsular Multi-Functional Stool and Office Bench by Harun Ayaydın
Using circular and elliptical forms. Every piece of this design can change colours and can be used in different combinations. It’s soft form design can morph it into a stool, shelf, and table.
Amoeba Wall Dynamical Space Reconfiguration Tool by Honghao Deng
Interestingly inspired by amoeba, Deng created a hyper-transformable workspace. The walls autonomously shape the room around it in response to your needs such as creating small individual spaces.
P.A. Home Office by Aarti Aggarwal
A single piece of furniture opens into a complete home-office with convenient nooks and crannies, with a chair to boot. In addition, it gives the owner the option to add a decorative individualized touch.
Jigsaw Stardust Adaptable multipurpose carpet by Ingrid Kulper Design
Want warm floors but can’t deal with the bulky carpet? Kulper created the area rug which can convert into a large carpet and cover larger areas. Made in rhombs and hexagons, it easy to create shapes that suit your space. Plus, they’re easy to clean.
Bronze A’ Design Award Winner for Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category in 2016
The Dough Shelf by Jie Luo
Using galvanized iron sheet, which is flexible and strong, makes a morphing bookshelf that can take on different shapes to accommodate your books more randomly.
Strech Coffee Table by Mehmet Lutfi Hidayetoglu
Using an innovative furniture installation technique, users can install this table without needing any tools or equipment. The minimalistic design means it can easily be folded and put away when not in use.
A’ Design Award Winner for Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category in 2016
Shape-A-Shelf Shapeable Shelf by César Bejarano
Another shapeable shelf on the list, this flexible piece is made from 100% recycled PET and is supported by five pegs that are attached to the wall and then inserted into the shelf itself. The user can then choose an array which can serve various forms.
No matter what design, material or piece of furniture you choose to work on, it starts by changing your perspective on everyday items and how it meets the needs of the modern world.