The internet of things is here. Kitchen appliances have bluetooth, central heating is controlled with smartphones…But for all its beauty, our furniture is still stupid. Why aren’t more manufacturers making smart furniture?
Greg Lynn, designer of a smart sports chair for Nike gets it. His new chair has sensors to warm or cool users as required, eliminating cramps and reducing fluid loss after exercise. A great invention for athletes looking for the edge. In an interview with Dezeen he commented “I think probably the furniture industry is slow to engage technology. It’ll either happen or they’ll disappear.” Amen Greg.
Technology is all powerful. A tech invention can send a startup from a garage in Stoke to the stock exchange in weeks. If the furniture industry doesn’t integrate tech fast (not just wireless phone chargers), it will lose market share to tech companies that truly innovate.
Kram and Weisshar’s SmartSlab dining table integrates circuitry, allowing food to be cooked and kept at optimum temperature. At the same time your bottle of wine is kept perfectly chilled. All this on your dining table as your dinner guests sit around it. The collaboration between Kram/Weisshar and Iris Ceramica Group is a case in point: neither party is a furniture company. Iris Ceramica (ceramic tile producer) was looking for new uses for its range of tiles and hey presto. Very Jean Prouvé too.
As cities become more congested and built up, space becomes more valuable. And so does flexibility. If homes become smarter and more space saving (or multi purpose) using products like SmartSlab, they should also integrate smart reconfigurable interior walls and flexible equipment. In a state of the art city pad of the future (in just 10 years time) interior walls, furniture and equipment will be reconfigured on command to allow flexibility and optimum use of space.
MINI unveiled a micro living concept at Milan furniture fair, where certain items are foldable and movable. Great idea, but let’s make it smart. Bluetooth it up with 3 or 4 pre-programmed automated layouts. One tap of a smart phone screen and your studio pad goes from ‘Office layout’ to ‘Ooh la la Love nest’. Whilst you’re on your way back for coffee.
In this situation furniture needs to keep up. No. In fact, it needs to lead. In recent blogs I’ve discussed wearable tech, the rise of Asian design and market disruptors such as Tesla. Now I’m joining the dots. In the next decade I predict we’ll see at least one major player emerge from Asia in the furniture mass market. And their furniture will be smart, automated and flexible. The Apple of the furniture industry. Bye for now.