Canada's Condominium Magazine

Robotic furniture makes it easy to reconfigure small apartments

We’ve seen the very cool concept demonstrated before, the clever use of shape-shifting furniture, movable walls and multi-functional spaces. Treehugger founder Graham Hill, for example, showed off his prototype micro-apartment (420 square feet) in New York City a few years ago, with its many very smart design features that make it possible to live in the small apartment as if one were in a much bigger space. A table appears out of nowhere, it seems, and stretches out to seat twelve for dinner. The bed folds into the wall. The wall moves to create an office. And so on. The trouble is, it cost him a small fortune to build the custom-designed apartment, and as beautifully conceived as it is, it still seems like quite a lot of work to use all of its features.

So it is very good news to learn that there is now an alternative—a robotic alternative, no less—designed by Yves Béhar with MIT and a company called ori. Ori designs robotic furniture that makes it much easier to transform an interior space. A small studio apartment of around 300 square feet can be transformed into a one-bedroom apartment with living room and office. The principle is that space should be fluid, not static. The idea of defining space with immovable walls and permanently placed furniture seems so static, so passé, after all.
The bed disappears into the wall unit, which moves at the touch of a button  to create a whole new space in this new robotic furniture called ori, the work of designer Yves Behar and MIT.

Called “architectural robotics,” the first of this new furniture for the transformational age is modular and looks very easy to use, judging by the video. A large wall of shelves with a pop-out desk and a bed that slides into it when not in use is the basic unit. What makes it so effortless is that everything is activated with the push of a button. Soon it will be even easier, when the voice- and gesture-activated versions appear. For now, a person can easily make the bed disappear, move the whole wall, and transform the bedroom into living space or office. The system can effectively double the space of the apartment.

The unit can be ordered in custom colours, materials and finishes. The unit accommodates the bed and a closet on one side, a home office and entertainment suite on the other. It can be pre-set, with preferred lighting included, so that one touch transforms one space into another. Settings can also be adjusted via a mobile app so the desired set-up can be ready when the owner arrives home.

Possible applications for the ori technology go beyond apartments. It can easily be adapted for offices, retail spaces, educational settings, the hospitality industry, medical settings and anywhere else where dynamic, responsive space would improve efficiency and utility.

Watch the video.


Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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