Innovating in Industrial Design: Multipurpose Products That Seamlessly Blend Form and Function(s)

By making their products do more, these climate conscious manufacturers are embracing technology and improving well-being.

Samantha Frew Samantha Frew

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Looking closely at the dynamic movements of consumer trends within the design industry, it is apparent that the desires and expectations of today’s designers have evolved dramatically. What was once an industry whose sole purpose was aesthetically pleasing objects in aesthetically pleasing spaces has transformed into an industry fueled by exploring objects that actively contribute to our lives and environments. The modern consumer yearns for more than just a product’s intended function; they seek innovation and amalgamation that goes above and beyond.

In an era defined by finding solutions and great advancements in architecture, design, science and technology, consumers are no longer satisfied with one-dimensional solutions. They want products that not only serve their primary purpose but also enhance their lives in positive and unexpected ways. This shift in consumer mindset has prompted designers, architects, and innovators to push the boundaries of what’s possible, giving birth to a new wave of multifunctional products that seamlessly blend form and function(s).

Makers of innovative products for architecture and interiors are invited to join us for a global celebration of design by entering Architizer’s A+Product Awards:

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With the current heightened awareness regarding well-being leading conversations, we are tasked with designing environments that promote and support our physical and mental health. There is a fixation on spaces that provide tranquility, rejuvenation, respite and support that has spurred the huge wave of development and products that actively contribute to our well-being. We are seeing products that integrate technology that aims to reverse many of the adverse effects caused by our built environment, tackling issues like air quality, access to nature, natural light exposure and even burnout.

As you prep your A+Product Awards submission, be inspired by the innovative products and brands that have caught our eye:

Air Purifying Paints

Image created by Architizer via Midjourney, inspired by ECOS Paints

The Air Purifying Paints of ECOS Paints is an innovative and eco-friendly product that provides an excellent solution to reduce health risks in indoor environments. Their Air Purifying Paint is exceptional, employing their patented Air Pure technology. ECOS Air Purifying Paint contains zeolite, a natural mineral that acts like a molecular sieve to absorb a targeted range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the atmosphere.

The sieve (a non-toxic crystalline tube) is sized to allow small molecules, such as nitrogen or oxygen, to pass unimpeded while large molecules (organic compounds) become trapped. The technology is combined with a safe and eco-friendly paint that has no VOCs of its own and no toxic chemicals, solvents, or odors. The paint has an unmatched ability to adsorb the harmful contaminants (Formaldehyde, acetone, glycol, and benzene) that escape from the furniture, flooring and textiles within our homes and workplaces.

Kneeling Chairs

Varier is a pioneering furniture brand that redefines sitting with their innovative kneeling chairs. Designed with a deep understanding of the human body’s innate need for movement, Varier’s chairs promote a range of natural positions instead of enforcing a single static posture. Conceptualized by designer Peter Opsvik, the unconventional approach to seating challenges traditional norms, prioritizing dynamic sitting for holistic well-being.

Rooted in Hans Christian Mengshoel’s Balans Concept from 1976, these chairs feature a forward-tilted seat and shin support to encourage mobility and comfort. Their iconic Variable™ kneeling chair exemplifies this philosophy, offering instant comfort and a liberating seated experience. Varier’s commitment to balanced sitting fosters not only better posture and breathing but also overall well-being, inviting the entire body to engage in active sitting and making movement an integral part of your seated lifestyle.

Unsurprisingly, sustainability is another driving force behind the demand for multifunctional products. With a growing commitment to environmental responsibility, consumers are increasingly inclined to choose products that not only reduce waste but also actively engage in thoughtful manufacturing practices. Yet, while the materials and processes used to create our products play a huge role in being climate-positive, there are a number of designers and manufacturers that are going further by rethinking function. These designers are asking — how can my design work harder for the planet?

Energy-Capturing Paving Tiles

Pavegen, a trailblazing force in sustainable technology, is reshaping the way we think about energy in urban environments. At its core, Pavegen’s innovative technology captures the kinetic energy generated by people as they walk or run over specially designed paving tiles. With each step, these tiles produce 2-4 joules of power, which can be stored for later use or directed instantly to power various devices, from lighting to advertising panels and phone chargers.

Pavegen’s ingenious approach not only addresses the challenge of harnessing renewable energy in crowded urban settings but also aligns perfectly with the growing demand for sustainable solutions. Its applications span various industries, from transport to education, highlighting the versatility and potential impact of this innovative technology. As the world increasingly relies on climate-conscious products, Pavegen’s growth trajectory holds promise, offering a glimpse into a future where every step contributes to a more sustainable and efficient urban environment.

Photovoltaic Window Blinds

SolarGaps are multifunctional smart blinds that surpass conventional window coverings. These innovative blinds don’t just provide privacy and shade; they actively harness the power of the sun to generate electricity while keeping interiors cool. Installed externally, SolarGaps seamlessly combines form and function by tracking the sun’s movement and converting its energy into usable electricity. This system operates within a wide temperature range and is wind-resistant, ensuring reliability and longevity.

The solar panels are highly efficient, boasting a lifespan of at least 25 years. What sets SolarGaps apart is their integration with a user-friendly app, providing remote control, performance reports, and smart home compatibility. With a sturdy motor, efficient inverter, and minimal noise emissions, SolarGaps redefines the concept of window blinds, offering architects and designers a versatile, energy-efficient, and technologically advanced solution that can do more than look good.

Efficiency, too, plays a pivotal role in the choices consumers make. In a world where every resource is valuable, minimalism is revered, and adaptability is praised, products that maximize efficiency have become highly sought after. Designs that optimize space utilization, energy conservation, and resource management are leading the way in this field. The integration of smart technology and automation into everyday products enables this pursuit of efficiency with the goal of making life easier and more streamlined.

Lighting-Furniture Hybrids

Pablo Designs is a renowned name in contemporary American lighting with a design philosophy rooted in simplicity and utility. Their stunning Carousel is an innovative creation that blurs the lines between form and function, offering an elegant dual-purpose furniture and lighting solution. The two-piece series – table lamp and floor lamp – combine a wireless mobile charging tray with warm, glare-free illumination. The tray’s surface features two wireless charging zones plus a USB-C charging port to accommodate a range of devices.

Meanwhile, the table’s base is a transparent fluted acrylic cylinder diffuser that emits indirect lighting via a hidden flat panel LED control that includes full dimming capabilities. The multifunctional piece highlights how beautiful and understated integrated technology can be in supporting our everyday lives.

Dynamic Tinted Glass

Jabil HQ featuring SageGlass Classic by SageGlass, a Saint-Gobain company. Photograph by Halkin/Mason Photography

SageGlass is a fascinating product that is backed by well established company Saint-Gobain. The glazing uses advanced electrochromic technology to deliver dynamic tinted glass. Unlike traditional glass, with its advanced control system, SageGlass can tint or clear automatically based on the level of sunlight indoors, weather conditions outdoors, and the building’s heating and cooling system. SageGlass provides precise control over the amount of light and heat that enter a building, allowing optimization of natural light, solar glare reduction, and the ability to minimize heat build-up in a room.

By asking our core materials, like glazing, flooring and paint finishes, to do more, we can enhance occupant comfort throughout our spaces without the need for complex, energy-consuming systems. These multifunctional products can help us improve well-being, use technology to simplify our lives and help reduce our impact on the planet simply by making the right choice during the design specification process.

Top image courtesy of SageGlass; photograph by ©Adrien Barakat

Feeling inspired? Gain major industry recognition from top architecture and design firms for your innovative product by entering Architizer’s A+Product Awards:

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The clock is ticking, with a Extended Entry Deadline of February 23rd, 2024. Ensure your brand does not miss out this year!

Samantha Frew Author: Samantha Frew
Sam Frew is an interior designer with ten years of experience in the high-end hospitality industry. She is one-half of Campbell | Frew Design Studio. Over the years Sam has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest hotel brands including Accor, Millennium, Ensana and Radisson.
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