Welcome to the year 2040. Digital wallpapers that change colour when you’re tired decorate your bedroom like 2D chameleons. A contemporary sofa with an innate understanding of how firm you like your pillows corrects your posture before automatically readjusting for your partner. Yours is a home that learns.
Sceptical? Rest assured, this isn’t some Bill Gates utopian fantasy. While we might be decades away from this kind of reactive technology becoming mainstream, one only has to examine the latest line up of digital releases to see that Google, like most of the other tech titans, are investing heavily in the home. And that’s huge news for all of us because between the exciting spheres of design and tech is the human experience, the everyday life on which our personal dramas unfold.
Interior design often has an uncanny ability to reflect the needs of our time, and while the advent of artificial intelligence in the home is cause for celebration, the popularity of movements like Hygge makes another truth abundantly clear. We need homes that promote wellbeing alongside intelligence, empathy as well as efficiency.
All of which prompts several questions for the forward thinking homeowner. In an epoch of rapid technological change, what do the homes of the future have in store for us? And what kind of innovative products are available right now for those looking to get ahead of the game?
WORKING FROM HOME
Remote working has been proven to reduce employee turnover, maximize productivity and boost morale. With companies like Amazon and Google trailblazing flexi-work policies from virtual locations, we look set to experience the erosion of several antiquated boundaries: work/play, indoors/outdoors and the home/office.
Effective interior design will be more essential than ever in order to manage this transition. We already know that well designed spaces improve our ability to work and learn efficiently, and savings on energy bills via renewables will grant homeowners more of a budget to design these dream spaces.
The future home will therefore be an amorphous invention, with homeowners overhauling delineated living quarters in favour of open plan havens that are capable of adapting to their schedules and needs.
So, what might this look like? Well, there is a general consensus that as urban populations grow, our living spaces will shrink accordingly. Home offices with virtual reality screens will circumvent the need for Skype or conference calls and double up as afterhours gaming or TV rooms. Footstools and day beds will come into their own as cordless lamps and tech no longer dictate the necessity of a traditional lounge layout.
The success of these kind of fluid zones will depend on multi-purpose designer furniture that supports all kinds of creativity. One current example of futuristic furniture is Gallotti & Radice’s Air Desk. The gorgeous glass unit doesn’t block out essential floor space and can be slotted onto the main framework as and when necessary to create extra working space while seamlessly fitting into any contemporary décor scheme.
A work space by day, living room by night will be made possible by sleek hidden storage units with one remote for your tech and no cables. For this, look no further than Spectral, an exciting German designer leading the market on smart furniture. Their ‘Next’ systems enable wireless charging of mobile devices while you work and instant uploads of songs, photos and files via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in an overall multimedia extravaganza.
Delicately concealed to blend in with your home environment, Spectral is there when you need it. Need inspiration on your lunch break? Transform your environment into a live rock concert or a cinematic experience of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth. When you’re finished, switch off multiple items with the click of a button.
The future of interior design is about making smart choices, demanding spaces to be “both/and” rather than “either/or”. Most importantly, homes of the future will feature furniture that optimizes and adapts to the space you have, rather than taking it away.
TECH FROM TOP TO TOE
Every element of the home will one day have the capacity to become intelligent and receptive. For those who aren’t quite ready to share their homes with a device that is always listening, there are some other exciting home accessories that focus more on experience and emotion.
Pablo’s UMA Bluetooth Lantern is fully portable and harnesses warm dim technology to imitate the soft glow of an ebbing sun. Users can then connect via Bluetooth to the lantern for a 360° hi-fidelity surround sound experience, wherever you are. Connecting the eyes, ears and soul, it is the perfect addition for an outdoor party or an intimate indoor setting.
When asked to comment on the future of lighting with regards to his latest FLOS collaboration, the legendary designer, Philippe Starck, had this to say:
“The wires will disappear… and everything that can disappear, has to disappear.”
The Battery and Bourgie Table Lamp by Kartell were among the first to jump on this trend, freeing the modern homeowner from the shackles of sockets. The preference for the portable is also echoed by Frederico Otero’s astonishing set of Cocoon Fires. Their use of bio-ethanol means that they are a safe and environmentally friendly way to enjoy an indoor fire for those who don’t have access to a traditional fireplace.
These accessories differentiate themselves from some of the other technology available today in that they are intrinsically concerned with developing a homely ambiance and atmosphere. In the future, we hope to see more brands importing traditional comforts into state of the art technology to create new ways for families to enjoy their environments.
ICONS TO LAST THE AGES
But what of the icons you might ask? Rest assured the innately human accumen required for this level of creativity will always be inseparable from the world of interior design.
Take Arne Jacobsen’s Egg, the Sarineen Dining Table or Carl Hansen’s Wishbone Chair. These bestselling design icons, some of them realised over half a century ago remain as avant-garde today as they were back then, cheating the annals of time of their usual judgement. It is the reason Knoll’s Barcelona Chair, initially designed in the 1920s, is not out of place on the set of Batman’s Gotham in Batman vs Superman or an episode of Netflix’s Mad Men. This type of genius is non-programmable; it is born, nurtured and performed over a lifetime of collaboration and experimentation.
It would be foolish to suggest that this kind of beauty and such a rich design heritage would not have a place in the tech heavy homes of the future. Comfort and art will always be intrinsic to our societies and living spaces.
THE FUTURE OF TOUCH
The world of tomorrow will be a tactile place — an immersive reality where you can feel the extraordinary texture of Patricia Urquiola’s Gentry Chair through your iPad as you shop online. Haptic technology is taking tactual perception to the next level, with WSGN reporting the successful use of radio waves to profile fabrics so they can be felt with absolute clarity through a glass screen when the waves are reversed.
Innovative uses of digital and 3D printing have already begun to usher in a new era of design possibilities. The Persian Cowhide Rug by Mineheart showcases digitally applied Persian patterning on an enhanced faux animal hide. Hypoallergenic and subject to none of the curl or shrinkage of its raw counterpart, this revolutionary rug coalesces two great design traditions into one mesmerising product.
Advancements in textile technology are also spelling big things for other items of outdoor furniture. Gone are the days of uniform rattan and out-of-touch teak. Several iconic lifestyle brands like Paolo Lenti have brought out weather hardy versions of their best-selling indoor products. Contemporary designers are gifting plush outdoor cushions and luxurious finishes built to resist even the most tempestuous of climates. Modern homeowners can now truly live the outdoors, reaping all the physical benefits of the natural world without feeling disconnected from the tactile pleasures of the indoors.
Expect big name outdoor brands to follow suit in the coming decades with outdoor offerings that integrate smart phone and audio features into their sun loungers.
We are, in essence, all designers. We design memories, homes, and families – experiences to make this world bolder and brighter.
The homes of the future will revolve around its inhabitant’s emotions and physical senses like never before, giving us more opportunity to design our own success. With the Monday blues eradicated, homeowners will be able to find a gentle joyfulness in their work and home life that has been trapped in rigid schedules and unhealthy relationships to both work and home. And while traditional homes have always been designed with young adults in mind, smart furniture that seeks to prolong the life of an aging population posit a future in which getting older is de-stigmatized and celebrated.
Here at Chaplins, we have always been committed to the future of furniture. We look forward to caring for you and your family as we have always done, using innovative design and expertise to help you write your next chapter.