Whether you side for or against tiny-apartment developments in urban locales, you’re going to see this trend — or at least the exploration of it — on the rise as cities continue to face housing shortages coupled with shifting demographics of more single occupants or smaller households.
This spring alone saw the openings of two such developments, New York City’s Carmel Place and Washington, D.C.’s, Moda 17, both of which have employed smart storage and space-saving solutions ranging from standard convertible furniture (think Murphy or sofa bed and expanding multipurpose tables) to pocket doors. But, with today’s technology and the Internet of Things, couldn’t we do even more? That’s a question that celebrated designer Yves Béhar and MIT Media Lab are tackling with the introduction of Ori, a new brand and family of intelligent, responsive systems.
Announced today, Ori (a play on folding origami) is offering a furniture system and architectural element that swiftly transforms a space using modular robotics and connected devices. “Ori’s systems make possible the effortless and magical transformation of interior spaces, providing the totally new experience of having our interior space intelligently conform to our activities, rather than our activities being forced to conform to our interior space,” says Hasier Larrea, CEO of the new company.
Fuseproject principal Yves Béhar designed the inaugural system as a dividing wall element that maximizes a space, converting it into a living room, bedroom, walk-in closet or office, all at the touch of a finger on a connected, app-installed device or the control console integrated onto the unit. The bed is tucked into the bottom of the unit and glides in and out from under a closet and concealed home office. The other side of the unit, meanwhile, can hold an entertainment/media center or shelving (open, closed, cantilevered and more) and pulls out an extra couch. Finally, the entire wall can move to increase the space on either side.
Béhar adds, “The app, which allows for deeper customization of the unit itself, is mainly meant to augment the magic of the product experience through remote transformation: If you have friends coming over after work, just hit the living room button and your home is ready upon arrival.” In fact, different presets (inclusive of integrated lighting) can be set for entertaining, sleeping or working. Finally, finishes, materials and colors can be specified to meet aesthetic preferences.
“Beyond the comfort and life-enhancing varied accommodations, Ori creates financial value for renters or owners; a studio becomes a one bedroom, for example,” says Béhar. “The Ori system is also valuable for developers by immediately increasing the value of the home.”
At press time, developers in Boston, D.C. and Seattle are slated to introduce Ori into residential units this season, and additional program partners are being accepted. But the initial product family is expected to fully hit the market in early 2017.