Jun 24 2019

Exciting: life in mobile spaces

New concepts for the cosy furnishing of means of transportation such as cars are being designed under the keyword Mobile Spaces. This results in new chances for the furniture industry.

Front and back seats, steering wheel, pedals, fittings – the car of today is no place one would try to get comfortable if it was not all about mobility. However, that will change: in the near future, means of transportation will become mobile living spaces thanks to automation and digitalisation; passengers will become inhabitants.

At Interzum at the beginning of May, the latest trends in this segment were already presented at the "Mobile Spaces" piazza. It became evident in the process that the sophisticated requirements for mobile spaces are already being addressed by the furniture and textile industries. Thus, there are new materials that can be adapted in terms of durability and flexible design possibilities.

Wardrobe beds for ships

Concepts that have already proven themselves in the past are now being used by the furniture industry in a different context. The best example of this is the wardrobe bed, which is becoming more important not only in smaller residential units in the urban environment, but also in mobile spaces: the manufacturer Nehl equips hotels and ships, among other things, with its transforming furniture.

Cabins on cruise ships, for example, can thus be furnished in a space-saving way. Several furniture manufacturers have also presented new objects for shipbuilding at Interzum, where the focus is on multi-functionality, durability and comfort. The GH Hotel Interior Group, which also specialises in the outfitting of hotels and ship cabins, also has the appropriate furniture at the ready. Aircraft and trains also offer little space, but lots of room for the elaboration of design ideas.

Thus, the Glacier Express, which connects St. Moritz and Zermatt, was equipped with new panorama cars with a luxurious design. The mastermind here was the Swiss design agency Nose of Christian Harbeke.

Automotive manufacturers are also paying attention in the meantime, and noting that they won't get far with their usual concepts for the design of car interiors. The basic idea: the car becomes a kind of hybrid of vehicle and living space. Volvo, for example, recently presented a concept for a self-driving electric car that not only serves the purposes of mobility, but also as a mobile office, bedroom and living space.

The otherwise unproductive time spent getting from point A to B should thus be sensibly used. The so-called 360c concept plans for seats, a table and storage space in the car.

Merging cosiness and functionality

That is already the core theme of Mobile Spaces: cosiness, comfort, functionality and aesthetics should merge in a small space. While means of transport like aircraft, boats and especially cars are primarily there today to get us to our destination quickly, it should be possible to use this time cleverly in future. Audi also sees the automobile of the future as a "third living space" after living spaces and workplace.

With the concept "AI:ME", the space freed up through the use of an electrical motor is used for the furnishing of a comfortable living space, including live plants. The steering wheel becomes a large table as soon as the car is driving autonomously.  

Competition for mobile space

Who rules the mobile space? In future, symbioses between the various providers, from classic furniture manufacturers through specialists to the automobile producers, will arise to achieve the maximum in comfort and safety. IKEA is also interested in self-driving cars and has developed its own concept solutions for the future redesigning of automobile interiors under the keyword "Space10".

These are still somewhat rough and very futuristic. For example, there are ideas for a "hotel car" or a "shopping car". However, the general direction is clear: when it is about living while in motion, entirely new approaches are called for, with the simultaneous use of proven concepts from other furnishing segments. Thus, Schock Metall, which specialises in roll forms, and manufactures pull-out systems for cabinets, among other things, also has an automobile interior in its portfolio, including height-adjustable tables and glove compartment cupboards. This shows that, what can be used for living will also increase in importance for mobility.

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