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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Create mini cityscapes on your work desk with this collection of architecture-inspired desk organizers

Deskitecture is a line of architecture-inspired desk appliances that use various structural motifs to form mini cityscapes on your desk.

Architecture is an endless pool of inspiration for some designers. Spurred by the layers created by superimposed buildings and city structures, creatives aim to replicate that through their product designs. Covering several different design avenues, those products might come through as interior design elements or even outdoor decorations.

Designer: Hyerim Kim

Whatever the case might be, architecture serves as a staple source of inspiration for designers across industries. For young designer Hyerim Kim, architecture-inspired their line of desk appliances, Deskitecture.

Comprised of several different appliances, Deskitecture is built from different building materials as well. Using basic architecture as the blueprint for each piece, Kim broke their line of desk appliances down to four categories: concrete, wood, brick, and steel.

The appliances made from concrete are generally the ones that keep desk objects in place, like writing utensils, books, and pieces of paper. Deskitecture’s line of concrete appliances includes a pen holder and magazine crates that doubly function as bookends.

The wooden desk objects also include slotted magazine holders that are lengthier than they are sturdy, promising to hold flimsier items in place, like magazines and paper mail. Deskitecture’s brick appliances are mostly composed of bookends that also function as vases for writing utensils and other EDC items to be stored.

Finally, the Deskitecture steel appliance appears as a micro-sized H steel beam to provide an organizer for various items that can be found on any desk, like rulers, miscellaneous books, and binders.

The brick-inspired bookends doubly function as vases for items like writing utensils or even floral decorations.

When put together, the appliances of Deskitecture form miniature cityscapes.

The H-beam-inspired steel appliance functions as a desk organizer.

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This skylight-enabled litter box doubles up as furniture to please cats and their owners

Chris Granneberg designed an enclosed litter box, available for purchase through Cat Person, that’s built to please cats and their owners.

While enclosed litter boxes are great for cat owners, cats seem to have some trouble getting used to them. Cats are temperamental creatures and that means their litter boxes have to fit the bill. For cats to feel comfortable enough to use their littler box, it has to accommodate different needs.

Designers: Chris Granneberg x Cat Person

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There has to be enough headroom for cats to be able to sit down and turn around easily, there should also be a means for light to enter so cats aren’t going in the dark, and airflow is a must to ventilate the inside of enclosed litter boxes. Cat Person, a lifestyle brand for cats and their owners, recently teamed up with Chris Granneberg, an industrial designer, to develop an enclosed litter box that’s built to please booths cats and their owners.

With Cat Person, Granneberg set out to design a litter box that appears like a piece of furniture to blend in with other interior design elements. To achieve this, Granneberg outfitted the Cat Person litter box with a wooden top lid that gives it the same appeal as a small side table. Ensuring casts enjoy enough airflow and light while taking care of business, Granneberg punctuated the wooden top lid with circular cutouts, creating a ventilated and well-lit interior space.

Granneberg also designed the litter box with larger-than-average dimensions to allow bigger cats to have enough room to sit and turn around with comfort. An ergonomic and durable scooper accompanies the litter box that comes with a handy storing mechanism to avoid the eyesore of litter dropping to the floor. Joining forces with Cat Person, this collaboration marks another step toward Cat Person’s commitment “to make life with cats even more awesome,” through whole cat care.

The built-in scooper holder solves the issue of litter dropping to the floor. 

The entrance is big enough even for larger cats to move in and out of with ease.

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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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A smart speaker concept you might actually want to keep track of your face at home

There are ongoing privacy concerns about smart speakers and smart displays that always listen in on you, but this concept actually has a valid reason to.

Speakers and screens that act as hubs for our smart home are becoming more common these days. From Amazon to Google to even Apple, there is no shortage of companies that have products always ready to listen to your voice or even see your face. Those scenarios can sound a bit uncomfortable and almost frightening for some people, but a brand design agency is trying to reframe these technologies in a more positive light by giving smart assistants a more friendly face, almost literally, too.

Designer: Recipe Design

The Soove doesn’t look like your typical smart speaker aside from its conical shape and the customary use of fabric that wraps around the product. It has an odd collar-like ring near the top, actually a sound cone that makes it more sensitive to almost every audio nuance around it. The most eye-catching part of the design, however, is the black glass ball on top and the two eyes that seem to be looking back at you and express some emotions by changing the eyes’ shape.

This gives Soove a more friendly face compared to the more utilitarian smart speaker and smart display designs. It is both disarming and comforting, looking like a friend that’s ready to lend you an ear on your stressful day. That’s exactly the kind of emotions that its designers want to evoke because the smart speaker is more concerned about your well-being than turning the lights on or off.

In addition to listening for audible cues, Soove uses facial tracking to recognize a person’s emotions through their facial expression as well as physical states. It can also take into account data coming from other smart devices like wearables or smart appliances. Soove will then adjust the house’s lighting, temperature, or music to create a more pleasant atmosphere or recommend that the owner take a nap or get some fresh air.

Rather than making a blanket condemnation of face-tracking technologies, Recipe Design wants to demonstrate how they can be put to good use as well. The designer says that “SOOVE aims to change the meaning of existing face-tracking technology by reframing it as a positive enabler beyond surveillance and security. By reframing existing domestic and commercial surveillance technology there is potential to disrupt home monitoring and create an innovative new category designed to influence and drive sensory cues around the smart home to improve our sleep behaviors.”

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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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