This WFH desk concept bucks the trend to offer some peace of mind

Sometimes, the traditional and the familiar can offer a calming refuge against a stressful storm of changes.

The past two years have forced many changes in the world, not all of them warmly welcomed. Work, in particular, has taken on a new form, one that finally proved that some work could actually be done at home. But as the world changed rapidly, so did the need for resources and tools that adapted to that new world order. This sea of changes gave way to a flood of new products in dizzying variety and numbers. One idea, however, tries to swim against the current to offer something with a familiar face that inspires confidence and offers a bit of tranquility.

Designer: Can Türker

As more and more people worked and studied at home, the venerable home desk was no longer enough to support the added demands. This gave birth to a new breed of desks and office equipment that boasted creative ways to improve productivity or maximize space, some of them bordering on the gimmicky. While a lot did lean more towards minimalist aesthetics, more offer advanced features that ironically complicated life and added to the mental burden of already stressed-out people.

The Bold Desk concept is bold in two ways. The designer’s expressed intent is to make the desk inspire boldness in facing the unknown of new work from home arrangements. Intentionally or not, the desk is also bold for eschewing complex features and gimmicks to present something immediately familiar and comfortable.

Nothing says familiar better than a wooden desk, and the Bold Desk’s choice of material scores points for both sustainability and design. It offers an immediate connection between the desk and the user, and its organic origin evokes feelings of warmth and life compared even to wood that’s been painted over with unnatural hues. The drawer and the bottom side also have a soothing effect, thanks to their curved edges. Rather than cram everything into a space-efficient area, the wide surface of the desk also gives some space to breathe.

That’s not to say that the Bold Desk is plain and unremarkable. It puts an emphasis on storage space to help hide away the clutter, even if temporarily. The inconspicuous gap on its back also offers a way for cables and power cords to snake out of sight and out of mind. The Bold Desk, despite its name, focuses on being subtle and unobtrusive, putting an equal value on people’s mental health as much as their productivity.

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This sustainable folding stool turns wasteful PET bottles into a tool for an agile lifestyle

Now you can sit comfortably anywhere you go and won’t look out of place while carrying your own stool around. Plus, it helps find a home for one of the biggest sources of pollution on the planet.

Have you ever found yourself needing to sit down only to discover there’s not an empty chair in sight? Whether at parties or meetings, there always comes a time when an extra chair or even just a stool can be a lifesaver. Those scenarios are what gave birth to a class of portable and folding stools, but one new entry in this category tries to keep you looking cool while you carry your stool around. In fact, no one might even suspect you’re bringing along your own seat.

Designer: KRETHO

Folding stools are nothing new, but few actually try to hide the fact that people are carrying something meant to be sat on. In contrast, the TAKEoSEAT flattens down to something that looks like a large portfolio, or at least a stylish bag made of felt. You won’t look odd carrying it around, nor would the seat look out of place in an office space. Designer KRETHO positions this portable stool as a perfect part of an agile arsenal, allowing people to just pick up their seats and move around as needed. No more rearranging furniture or sweating over a heavy chair.

This folding design is admittedly not exactly novel, but what TAKEoSEAT adds to the table is a bit of environmental focus. Each stool is made from PET felt, which is felt that comes from those plastic bottles that we use and throw away without giving a second thought about where they end up. PET bottles undergo a special process (that does, unfortunately, use up water and energy) that results in a material that feels familiar to the touch while also strong enough to support a load of 130 kg. Plus, the TAKEoSEAT itself is recyclable, too!

Of course, it would be better if we reduced the amount of PET bottles we produce and use instead, but this at least finds another way to recycle these harmful products. The beneficial effects on the environment will still largely depend on how many TAKEoSEATs are made and sold, not to mention how efficient the recycling process is as well. If you are in the market for a sustainable and portable seat that you can take anywhere, this might be one option you could consider.

Photos courtesy of Sedus

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This self-compressing chair is a therapeutic furniture designed for individuals with autism

The Oto Chair, or Hugging Chair, is a piece of therapeutic furniture designed for autistic individuals with sensory integration disorders.

“As a designer,” Alexia Audrain says, “you have to be in contact with the user, their environment, their daily habits and always make tests before reaching a finished product.” Describing the process of creating a chair designed for users with autism and sensory integration disorders.

Designer: Alexia Audrain

Considering that 45% to 95% of people with autism have sensory integration disorders, designer Alexia Audrain produced a chair to help quell the effects of sensory overstimulation. The Oto Chair, or Hugging Chair, aims to actively recreate the soothing sensation that comes with being hugged or compressed for individuals with autism.

Putting “a sense of agency and dignity,” back into the design and build of therapeutic furniture was at the forefront of Audrain’s mind when creating the Oto Chair. Honing in on this aspect of its design, Audrain equipped the Oto Chair with a footrest and intuitive remote that grants control to the chair’s sitter. Outfitted with a resistance-foam cushion, sitters use the remote to activate the chair’s compression mode. To draw and construct the Oto Chair, Audrain turned to the community who would benefit most from its function.

Audrain says, “It was important for me to work with people who truly understand the condition, so I spent time with people who have autism, with specialized educators and psychometricians studying sensory processing disorders to understand their needs and their daily life.”

When designing the Oto Chair, Audrain also leaned on her cabinetmaking skills in conjunction with insight she gained from experts in the field of therapeutic furniture. Unlike other therapeutic furniture that’s made from plastic, the Oto Chair maintains a classic, beechwood build that gives it a sturdy and warm personality. Defined by a cocoon silhouette, the Oto Chair couples its unique shape with plush upholstery that absorbs sound and encourages sitters to “concentrate on their senses,” as Audrain describes.

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This height adjustable smart table with customizable modules keeps your WFH space organized

The hybrid work lifestyle is scaling new highs as work from home continues to be a way to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Considering the altering furniture demands of users confined to their homes, designers and brands are creating smart tables integrated with features to make working from home easier. This is exactly what the new Rune Modular Table intends to do as well, in a way not imagined before.

We have seen IKEA step up to transform the entire work desk into a wireless charger and Razer design a conceptual table with separate modules users can swap and install as they desire. Continuing in the same space, designer Mok Zijie foresees an intelligent table with cleaver features like height adjustment and modules that fit seamlessly into the sockets concealed in the table’s surface.

With the Rune table and its accompanying modules, the designer intends to create a new standard of productivity for a hybrid work population that is continuously juggling – day in a day out – between different roles resulting in a cluttered table every time they set out for a new task. If you have been working from home or know someone who is caught up in the act, you will instantly relate to the problem of clutter on the table. Wires, stationary, smart devices all piled up on your work desk is a problem that needs a solution, and Rune sets out to provide that through a good quality minimalistic desk.

The Rune smart table has a slim form factor, yet holds cutouts on the surface with magnetic sockets to accommodate various modules for a lamp, speaker, wireless charger, stationery container and more. Users can customize the table – with modules of choice – from the Rune website. These modules flush right into the slots on the smart table allowing seamless visual experience. Onboard is the Rune Controller module that provides users complete control over the table and its configuration. When a new module is connected to the magnetic socket, the controlled automatically detects the installed module and offers options to control and uninstall it to make space for a new module.

If you’re struggling with a cluttered desk and storage is a primary focus, the Rune Modular Table is conceptualized to adjust to your requirements and minimize unnecessary pile up on your workstation to make it look light and clean at all times.

Designed by Mok Zijie

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IKEA sofa from Tommy Cash collaboration might make you crave for bread all the time

A piece of furniture that’s a bit uncharacteristic of IKEA might redefine what it means to be a couch potato.

Sofas, sometimes called couches, have long been associated with relaxation and comfort. In more modern times, they have also been associated with TVs, home entertainment, and the food that usually gets consumed during such passive activities. The kinds of foods commonly thought of when talking about couches and sofas usually range from light snacks to microwavable meals, but a new design that’s coming to IKEA turns that idea on its head and might make you crave for a different kind of treat.

Designer: gab bois for Tommy Cash and IKEA

Bread is not exactly the first kind of food that would come to mind when the word “sofa” is mentioned. Pastries are often messy and would ruin upholstery, while certain rolls are best eaten with other kinds of food that might also make a mess on the sofa. That said, bread is also often associated with soft and fluffy feelings, which may have been the inspiration behind this tasty piece of furniture.

Rapper Tommy Cash is probably better known in design circles for his eccentric and outlandish ideas, and this LOAFA sofa is a clear testament to that. Designed to resemble a serving of glazed bread rolls, the sofa really looks good enough to eat. While it looks comfy, it almost also looks a bit sticky, perhaps generating conflicting feelings when deciding whether to sit on it or not.

Curiously, the LOAFA’s inspiration came from something unrelated to food. Designers gab bois indicated that the sofa is a nod to designer Mario Bellini’s classic Camaleonda modular sofa. Then again, those do look a bit like dinner rolls as well, and it didn’t take too much imagination to knead it into a Camaleon-dough. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the LOAFA will be just as modular and will forever be frozen in its L-shaped form.

designboom recounts how Tommy Cash tried to garner more than 10,000 comments in order to convince IKEA to start selling the LOAFA sofa. The Instagram post already surpassed that number, though the famed furniture maker has yet to confirm if this piece of furniture is already baking in the oven. Given it will be IKEA that will be selling this pan-tastic piece, some people might end up biting more than they can chew for its price.

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Brionvega Totem rr231 stereo system transforms from minimalist art piece to functional audio machine

Even audiophiles might not be listening to music all day, so this modern take on a 70s audio system transforms into a piece of minimalist room decor when not in use.

As with almost everything in design, fashion, and culture in general, there has been a revival in interest and sales of vinyl records. Those naturally required the production of equipment that could play that old-school media and even recreated the little flaws that made them sound unique. Many modern turntables, however, are pretty basic and try to also recreate the look of their predecessors a bit too faithfully. One company, however, took inspiration from a design that was already way ahead of its time when it came out decades ago, reviving a stereo system that blends form and function in a truly unique way.

Designer: Mario Bellini (via Brionvega)

When famed Italian designer Mario Bellini created the original Totem rr231 back in 1971, he was already thinking outside the box, literally and figuratively. In contrast to the turntable designs of that period, Bellini included speakers to create a fully integrated and independent audio system. But rather than just create a set of separate pieces, the designer created a single piece that embraced minimalism ahead of current design trends.

In its “dormant” state, the Totem rr231 deceptively looks like a simple white cube with seems that run across its width and down the middle. Those seams, however, give way to two speakers, each with a two-and-a-half-way system, that swing out like the wings of a futuristic machine. Those speakers can actually be separated from the main body and positioned in other parts of the room to fill it with your favorite tunes.

The rest of the box houses the ProJect turntable and a set of buttons and dials that match the minimalist aesthetic of the Totem rr231. Unlike the original, this modern-day version naturally embraces current audio technologies, including Bluetooth connection for streaming from mobile devices. In more ways than one, Brionvega’s recreation blends the past and the present in a deceptively simple design.

Admittedly, the Brionvega Totem rr231 requires a bit more physical work to use, especially if you keep it closed in its box form. Of course, that has the benefit of having a minimalist piece of art in the room at no extra cost, but that user participation in opening the box also creates a sort of “ritual” that makes the act of listening to music more personal and, in a way, more human.

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Sustainable DIY flatpack storage for staircases rises to the challenge of modern cramped homes

Stairs have become the last frontier in storage space in some living spaces, and this product concept makes it almost too easy to convert them into makeshift bins.

Students and young professionals live in an almost ironic situation of having a lot of stuff with very little room to store them. From shoes to magazines to books, it’s almost too easy to fill up small rented housing with these items that often end up scattered or, worse, lost. Some more creative individuals have repurposed stairs as landing areas for their stuff without much organization or consideration for safety. Storage bins designed for stairs were born from this need, and a new idea puts a sustainable IKEA-esque spin to that design.

Designers: Bronwen Rees and Bryony Wood

Staircase bins need to take into account the particular shape of stairs, but not all stairs are made equal, so they have to be a bit more flexible or at least configurable. Given how in-demand these storage solutions might be, they also need to be durable and sustainable. These two product design students from Nottingham Trent University in the UK hit both birds with one sheet of plywood.

The Stair Cubby, as it was christened, can be assembled without the use of tools, with tabs simply going into slots and held down with pegs. The cubby is designed to sit on two steps of stairs, but the panel on the back can slide up and down to adjust to different stair heights. The storage has five open-access cubbies for shoes, books, and any other item that can fit inside, keeping things organized and out of harm’s way.

The choice of wood ensures that it will have enough rigidity to support heavier objects while still looking stylish on top of any staircase design. According to the designers, a single 1/3 sheet of 4×8 plywood is enough to make three units, so there isn’t a lot of wasted material. Even the packaging envisioned by the designers is meant to be sustainable while keeping in line with the branding of home decor company Umbra that served as the inspiration for this product concept. They also chose a plain white motif for the Stair Cubby, which not only works well with plywood but also matches minimalist tastes as well.

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These everyday products hide their true functions like a hidden object game

Tech gadgets don’t need to look futuristic to be useful and can even look like an innocent pebble or an artist’s canvas leaning against the wall.

Homes today are filled with so much technology that it’s impossible not to notice one or two in a room, whether it be the latest smart TV or a fabric-covered smart speaker. While many of these home-centric devices are intentionally designed to look at home in your home, they often still stick out and call attention to themselves, which is also an intentional marketing strategy. That doesn’t have to be the case, however, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to make devices look like ordinary, everyday things you might easily take for granted.

Designer: Hoyoung Joo/studio SFSO

There might be nothing inherently wrong with consumer tech that looks like what they’re supposed to. Some might actually want their smart speakers to look like canisters and their TV remote control to show off all the functionality it has to offer. It’s hard to argue, however, that these things sometimes add unnecessary visual stimulation through designs and shapes that seem out of place in the back of our minds. These may, in turn, produce subconscious stress in what should be a stress-free living space.

One solution is to meticulously design a product to blend in with everyday objects, but a simpler method might be to actually turn these tech products into inconspicuous everyday objects themselves. Design studio SFSO dubs these “Hidden Objects,” a nod to a type of casual game where you have to squint your eyes to see a teacup hiding in a messy wardrobe.

A kitchen scale, for example, can simply look like a bowl, which simplifies not just the visual design but also its use. You can easily stack similar-looking bowls when measuring ingredients, though you might also be tempted to just put those directly into the bowl-shaped scale instead. The familiar shape of the bowl makes it look unobtrusive and uncomplicated, with the actual measurement being sent to a connected smartphone or smart speaker rather than an LCD display that breaks the illusion.

A larger weighing scale for humans, on the other hand, could masquerade as a tile or canvas leaning on your wall off to the side. There are no visible displays as well, with data sent directly to a paired smart device, and the scale looks more like an unassuming block of wood. It makes it easier to approach and use the scale with confidence, unlike many smart scales whose glass surfaces evoke a feeling of fragility.

Japanese-inspired interior decorations have introduced the use of smooth, oval rocks as room decorations. Why not turn these objects into containers at the same time, hitting two birds with one stone, pun intended. The Pebble Tray is almost a cunning way to hide important things almost in plain view without adding visual clutter to a serene rock garden or pebble beach theme.

The Stick Remote Control is admittedly harder to pull off, only because you don’t regularly find two conjoined round bars in most living rooms. Its flat top and bottom edges, however, make it easy to prop the stick up on its feet and hide the buttons from view. And unlike most remote controls, you can have it lie on its face and still look like a piece of minimalist decor.

These are definitely interesting industrial design ideas that can have a calming effect in a tech-filled home. Most consumer tech companies, however, are unlikely to take such an approach that would make their branding and design identity practically invisible. There are, of course, companies like IKEA and MUJI that specialize in minimalist designs like these, and they are slowly but surely moving towards integrating more smart features into their products, hopefully in a similar minimalist fashion.

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A coffee table that holds an electric fireplace is the ultimate winter essential

A fully electric hearth puts a modern spin on an ancient household fixture.

Fire and light have always been at the center of homes, be it a TV or a fireplace. The latter has, of course, become less practical these days, and its absence from many homes has also resulted in a shift in family interaction. “Hearth and home” is a phrase that still carries some meaning today, and a designer is bringing back that long-forgotten home centerpiece by making it not only more practical but also safe as well.

Designer: Maximillian Burton

The fireplace and the kitchen stove once started out as a single and critical part of the house. The hearth provided not only heat but also fire to cook the family’s meal. Because of those life-essential functions, the hearth also became the focal point for families to gather and connect over a warm fire and hearty food.

Those are the practical and social functions that designer Max Burton is seeking to return to modern households with a coffee table appropriately named “Hearth.” At first glance, it looks like a stylish but normal table with a black tabletop and a shuttered base. Even in this dormant state, it already functions as a beautiful centerpiece for people to gather, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Twist that tabletop clockwise like a giant dial, and the slanted fins at the base open up, revealing the electric heater inside. The twisting motion might remind some of a more advanced thermostat, and it almost offers the same capability. Once opened, the Hearth sucks in air from hidden ducts on its underside and then blows heated air out the fins, warming the entire room evenly in all directions.

While its top is reminiscent of a thermostat dial, the Hearth’s tapered and shuttered base is meant to evoke images of rising temperatures and fire. The glow that comes from the heater inside definitely helps that visualization and provides a warm and soft light that feels like an open invitation for families and friends to huddle and connect with each other, just like what people in ancient times did on cold Winter days.

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This slim shelf’s minimal design looks like an open book to encourage you to read!

Imagine instead of having a self-care app send you a notification that reminds you to read (especially if that is your resolution for the new year), the furniture itself can be a reminder! That is what Slice essentially is, a minimal, compact, elegant bookshelf that looks like an open book so that it can nudge you to read without having any more screens or digital stimulation.

“In amazingly digital era books aren’t easily opened, having this in mind ‘Slice’ is a bookshelf that intends to motivate individuals to read more often,” says Portuguese designer Joao-Teixeira who is known to always understand the assignment and delivers every single time with unique pieces like this.

Slice connects the environment, the activity, and the user very seamlessly through its form and function. Besides its emotional character, the bookshelf also takes on an aesthetic approach based on minimalistic and sleek shapes. Its elegantly formal look allows the product to become modular, enabling dynamic configurations as a means to highlight its presence and therefore its use.

You can access books from both sides (front or back) easily and the shelf was deliberately created with a slim profile to better fit in smaller spaces. It is horizontally stackable if you want to add more colors or create a piece for your home library, but Slice is certainly a slice of heavenly furniture for every book lover out there with big dreams and little floor space!

Designer: João Teixeira

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