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What will the living spaces of the future look like? Have previous living concepts had their day? The last few years alone have shown how much the areas of living and working are merging. Clear boundaries are becoming blurred, living spaces are being used primarily for multifunctional purposes. We present examples of modular design.

By hicklvesting.

Whether as an office, family meeting place or retreat, future residential architecture must meet the growing demands of hybrid lifestyles. And so these modern lifestyles present architects, planners and designers with new challenges. Modular furniture and multifunctional design solutions are coming into focus because they are flexible, mobile and adapt to individual needs.  The young designers of the “ein&zwanzig” newcomer competition deal with this topic. With their innovative products, they show what modularity of tomorrow can look like. The seating and office furniture, systems, lighting, everyday objects and textile designs are user-friendly, multifunctional and can be reduced, enlarged or adapted depending on their use. Thanks to this flexibility, they prove to be extremely sustainable because they accompany their users in almost every phase of life and move into their own four walls in the long term.

Felix Landwehr from the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences presented “Apio”, an intelligent tool for modular furniture, at this year’s “ein&zwanzig” Newcomer Award and received the special “Best of Best” award for it. The node-based connection system allows modular furniture parts to be plugged together easily and without tools. Shelves, stools or wall boxes can thus be created into individual living elements. Each modular element consists of only one material, which can be recycled and added to the raw material cycle. Users can realise their own ideas cost-effectively with just one connecting element and conventional round material from the DIY store or from recycled materials. Thanks to the innovative connection, the elements can be freely arranged on the round material. Thanks to this maximum flexibility and changeability of the system, it can be used in private interiors as well as in office or retail areas.

Apio, © Felix Landwehr

The furniture elements by Justus Hilfenhaus also offer new furnishing flexibility: “Caparica” functions as ‘stand alone furniture’ that offers the eye a fixed point in an open living ambience. The piece of furniture can be extended as needed: one shelf can become a complex shelving system that can be used in a variety of scenarios. Whether as a classic bookshelf, sideboard or work surface, ‘Caparica’ adapts to the individual requirements of the occupants.

Caparacia, © Justus Hilfenhaus

Toys and furniture for children are often only in use for a few years. Even though their design has now adapted to modern, reduced interiors, they are discarded when they are no longer used. Teresa Egger combines a piece of play furniture with a coffee table and thus makes the utilitarian object attractive for young and old. The hybrid piece of furniture “Ludo – a hybrid furniture” can be adapted with a flick of the wrist and allows parents and their offspring a new opportunity for interaction with every turn. Ludo is designed to make the separation between play and work space fluid. The piece of furniture, which is made of sustainable moulded plywood in just one moulding process, can also be used as storage space or a mini-desk. It fits perfectly into the open interior, which follows an uncomplicated, cross-generational design trend without strict room separation.

Ludo – a hybrid furniture, © Theresa Egger
Ludo – a hybrid furniture, © Theresa Egger
Der Beistelltisch Lin, © Ziyi Gong und Jingyi Yu

Ziyi Gong and Jingyi Yu from China include all their fellow inhabitants in their design, even the four-legged ones. The “Lin” side table is a two-storey design solution: table top on top, cat bed with exchangeable cat mat and embedded bells on the bottom. Perhaps a dog will also want to sit there and keep its mistress or master company while they work?

“Volta” by Marie Radke also deals with everyday (work) situations. Within one tool, she combines three visually coordinated objects, including a multiple plug, extension cable for clamping and multifunctional lamp, and brings electricity within easy reach in the sense of a simplified workflow. 

Volta, © Marie Radke

The innovative solutions make it clear that the furniture of the future will (have to) meet aesthetic, multifunctional and sustainable demands in equal measure. Modularity allows new freedom in the design of one’s own four walls and is more responsive than ever to individual needs. Flexible room dividers, with which a new room concept can be implemented at short notice, are also part of the basic modular equipment. “Gerda”, the flexible acoustic panel by Kristin Lieb, is made of thermally deformable PET fleece. The innovative panel provides sound absorption, it can temporarily create a workspace and be used as a neutral background during video conferences. “Gerda” is particularly user-friendly and can be easily rolled up and stowed away. 

Gerda, © Kristin Lieb

The modular principle with its almost infinite possibilities applies equally to indoor and outdoor applications. The areas merge ever more smoothly into one another, so the outdoor furniture of the new generation meets the climatic requirements of the outdoors and also fulfils the aesthetic demands of ‘in house’ use. “Working where it is most beautiful”, according to this principle, “Freiraum” by Milan Stein can be easily adapted to any desired location. 

Roll to desired location. The frame is an alternative to a rigid office space and has a positive effect on motivation and health. With its modular design, it can be extended to save space.

With “Active Desk”, Johannes Choe, a design graduate of the Kunsthochschule Kassel, has developed a desk that is suitable for almost all work situations – mobile, hybrid, digital. It can be flexibly mounted anywhere, even outdoors. Trend researcher Oona Horx-Strathern also dealt with the topic of modularity in the current Home Report and identified it as an important current trend in interior design. In times when living and working situations are changing rapidly, furniture should also be modifiable and meet the trend towards modularity. Oona Hörx-Strathern sees the trend not only in interiors, modularity is also taking hold of the construction industry and has the potential to revolutionise the way we live and work. 

Active Desk, © Johannes Choe
Active Desk, © Johannes Choe

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