Living space is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive in cities, and more and more people are living in small spaces. Designers and furniture manufacturers are therefore rethinking their approach. With flexible furniture and intelligent interior concepts, they are able to create living comfort even in the smallest of spaces.
One of the latest challenges faced by furniture and interior designers is making the most of minimal space. The more severe the housing shortage in the major cities becomes, the more interesting the furniture developed for those living in small spaces. Furniture manufacturers are developing new concepts for smaller homes. Flexible, multifunctional furniture and well-thought-out planning to create more space and provide greater comfort. Doing without has become an expression of a new way of life that can be summarised with the well-worn phrase “less is more”. The social trend towards reduction is being transferred to the design of personal surroundings. Furniture experts are advocating cosy minimalism. Guidebooks on clearing and uncluttering are making it into the bestseller lists.
“Small has a future” is what architect Krista Blassy thinks, too: “Flexible, compact apartment solutions are becoming increasingly popular.” Blassy collaborated with hardware and fitting systems manufacturer Häfele on its recent study on micro homes, MicroApart 20/30. The model for a small apartment can be individually scaled from a living space of just below 20m2 – depending on the apartment size and furnishing level. Optimum flexibility and comfort are provided by pieces such as sofa beds, walk-in closets and sideboards that can be used as tables.
Multifunctional furniture, as presented in the study by Häfele, are an effective solution for limited space. They can be used in different ways at different times of day in order to meet the user’s day-to-day needs. The sofa bed is a classic piece of multifunctional furniture, and there are a host of new convertible models available today. Height-adjustable and retractable tables, beds with storage space, and shelving that also functions as partitioning – these all facilitate functional living in very small spaces. Even the good old foldaway bed is enjoying a revival in a stylish reissue. The trend also includes garden furniture that can be used as a sofa, day-bed or dining area.
These days, folding tables and sofa beds, etc., combine versatility with sophisticated technology. Furniture-industry suppliers are supporting this transformability with new solutions for fittings, flaps and drawers. Electronic systems are making it easier to open and close furniture, while trend-setting lightweight construction solutions are making them more mobile. New storage space options are also creating more room. Innovative materials and surfaces increase user comfort and provide inspiration for new furnishing and decorating ideas.
In the face of rising rents, alternative living models are also gaining traction. One trend from the USA that offers space-saving solutions for modern nomads has become quite a movement. The “tiny house” trend has made the home mobile. Transportable tiny houses are versatile mini-lodgings that can, in theory, be transported anywhere. Over an area of just a few square metres, they offer a fully equipped living space with a bed, table, kitchenette and washroom. While in the past a life in a construction trailer was chosen mainly by drop-outs, today the home on wheels is a prestigious lifestyle object in and of itself. It is, however, unlikely to solve the housing shortage that plagues our major cities.