Nowadays, our living environment should be as flexible as we are. We interviewed three companies that develop innovative solutions for multifunctional home styling.
Our home has always been one of the most important places in our lives. Today, however, our living spaces should also be able to fulfil different tasks and reflect the flexibility of modern life. Living, working, or both? Versatility and multifunctionality are the hallmarks of modern home styling and attractive interior design. We talked to three manufacturers of multifunctional interior products about how they successfully master these challenges in the design of their products:
One system, many applications: Combina D
Combina D is an indoor recessed downlight that features interchangeable elements. That makes it the perfect ally for lighting offices, shops, showrooms and private residences. Francesco Allegro from L&L Luce&Light explains the features and of the innovative lighting system and the possibilities it offers.
What makes Combina D unique?
Francesco Allegro: What’s new about Combina D is its multipurpose retaining bezel, a system that lets you change the type of fixture, even after installation. And it can be used with different product types such as: a suspended fixture, a ceiling-mounted fixture, an extractable recessed fixture or a speaker.
You can choose from up to six different styles of cover, round or square, each with three different depths – and all easy to mount thanks to the practical magnetic connection system. You can add another personal touch by choosing our innovative primer coating for the cover. This allows the cover to be finished in the same paint as the ceiling, so that Combina D blends into its surroundings. If, in the future, you decide to paint the ceiling a different colour, you can simply order more covers with the primer coating and paint them with the new colour. That way, you can get a completely new look without having to buy new fixtures. Combina D is a fast, pragmatic solution to the architectural and aesthetic lighting requirements for indoor spaces, given that these very often undergo adjustments and changes in rapid succession and with tight deadlines.
So, adaptability is key?
The main aim that inspires L&L technical department in product development is to find a quick and practical solution to the architectural, aesthetic and lighting requirements of indoor spaces that are often subject to subsequent interventions and changes that need to be made with a rapid turnaround.
For which areas is the Combina system primarily designed?
The Combina System is a range of fixtures developed for indoor spaces such as showrooms, offices and retail that offers the benefit of interchangeable elements. This means the type of fixture can be changed even after it has been installed, thanks to its unique, multipurpose retaining bezels, which can take different product types such as: a suspended fixture, a ceiling-mounted fixture, an extractable recessed fixture or a speaker that are currently still in development.
Naturally practical: TAKEoSEAT
Konstantin Thomas is a product designer at KRETHO and the developer of TAKEoSEAT, a folding stool pressed from a single piece of PET felt. Due to its material and production method, TAKEoSEAT is and can be easily recycled. Above all, it is light and agile to use.
Mr Thomas, what is the story behind TAKEoSEAT?
Konstantin Thomas: The TAKEoSEAT came about as a result of the intensive examination of agile working environments and current office concepts, as the need for light, quickly available and location-independent furniture was discovered there. The idea behind the product was to design a simple, space-saving and flexible seating option that can react easily to changing room structures and can be placed in a wide variety of application scenarios.
The result is a foldable stool pressed from a single piece of PET felt, whose materiality and production method meet the requirements of our time in terms of sustainability and recycling. The simple and reduced form of the folding stool cleverly exploits the material properties of PET felt and results largely from the principle of folding. Prominent and character-defining are above all the hinges embossed in the material, which emphasise the clear contours, present interesting details and literally trace the shape of the stool. The production of the basic element takes place in only one work step, so that time-consuming processes are unnecessary afterwards. In addition, the stool requires very little material, weighs only about 2 kilograms and can be disassembled into its individual parts at the end of the product cycle to be returned to the material cycle.
The final product seems amazingly simple, but were there any hurdles you had to overcome during development?
By far the biggest challenge we had to face was the transfer to serial production. At the beginning of the design process, there was an experimental phase with the basic material of PET felt. This in-depth study of the material gave rise to numerous ideas and possibilities for new production processes and alternative processing techniques. These valuable insights made the production of the stool possible in the first place and were developed specifically by us. However, it was a long and hard road with many setbacks until we mastered these processes.
What will follow the TAKEoSEAT?
With our KRETHO brand, we are currently working on other products and in the future we will also try to use PET felt to offer surprisingly new, simple and refined furniture that will simplify life in a certain way.
Most recently, we organised a hackathon on the topic of New Work at HAFVEN in Hanover. A total of 20 participants with different expertise came together in five teams to work out precise problems and formulate solutions. The results were really promising product concepts and relevant topics for the design of new types of products.
What motivates you when you develop a new product?
I find inspiration in many things. It can be the observation of people in the most diverse everyday situations, as well as the intensive experiment with a new material, or a profound conversation in the evening with friends or family. In my projects, I always strive to break the product down to the essentials, to shape the character through refined details and to let intelligent functions form the personality.
The aim should always be to end up with objects that are taken for granted and radiate meaningfulness. One must think that they should never have been otherwise.
Smart and clever home styling: THEWALL
THEWALL combines modern technology with practical application. The back wall system is modular and flexible. The innovative construction integrates mounting rails as a construction wall. We spoke to Johannes Falk, managing partner of Orea Europe GmbH, the company behind THEWALL.
ndion: Could you please illustrate THEWALL?
Johannes Falk: Plug and Play! The start of the THEWALL product group and the market launch at the end of 2019 were always linked to two main goals: the simplest possible handling and the greatest possible variety. We are firmly convinced that products must be smart, clever and optimally designed for customers, and we consistently implement this. Thus, the goal is to produce an individualised product in the fastest possible time according to the customer’s wishes. With the constantly growing variety of accessories and accessory items, customers can put together their own individual wall of choice. In addition, the focus was on the simplest handling and assembly, in order to supply the specialised trade and its assembly team with the best possible product here. Our product partnerships with companies such as Rösle and Schüco, as well as our newly acquired sales partner Lechner, speak a clear language for us: the cooperation of successful companies finds a perfect common denominator in THEWALL. New surfaces, new accessories and new technical articles are added almost daily, making the product exciting and versatile for the customer.
What challenges did you overcome during the development?
Thousands! With each article, each individual accessory, each of the approximately 1,200 surfaces and the construction of the modular plug and play system, hurdles were associated that were far beyond our imagination. To take one small example: A simple-looking spice frame with spice jars that click in magnetically took 103 precursors before we had developed the perfect accessory. Among other things, it has been a great challenge for us to link the many manufacturers with great ideas and to establish THEWALL as a standard. The basis of every wall is the core: a current-carrying 4-phase track that enables an infinitely large product world. For example, we are currently building prototypes for the caravan and mobility, office, home and living and bathroom sectors on the basis of our module. All these different developments are exciting, new and thrilling. New challenges arise with every application. THEWALL is, contrary to a static, once-developed product, a living, evolving product cosmos in which new challenges await us every day – we face them with love for the product, passion and a great, small team.
What plans do you have for the future of THEWALL?
Due to the cooperation with great, well-known manufacturers, our constantly growing product variety and the almost infinite areas of application, we hope for a great future for THEWALL. Our vision is that our customer enters the house, hangs their jacket on the THEWALL coat rack, charges their mobile phone on the THEWALL inductive charging cradle in the kitchen, looks at their THEWALL stone wall in the living room and sees the “deconstructed furniture” bathroom cabinet collection while brushing their teeth. Then, when it’s time to head for the sea in the camper van the next day, hopefully the haven’t forgotten the electric toothbrush and has clicked it into the THEWALL app to charge.
These are certainly big plans and there is still a long way to go before we have established THEWALL as the new technical standard. But we are firmly convinced that it is only the belief and passion of all participants that turns good products into extraordinary products. The core of the company is to make this tangible and tangible in each and every one of our products. This is hopefully the future of THEWALL and we enjoy working with our partners, retailers and customers every day – our wish is that it will continue like this for a long time.
Our great thanks also go to the Iconic Awards, of course. Awards like these not only honour us, but also confirm time and again that the path we have chosen is the right one. We would like to thank them on behalf of the THEWALL family.
What is your inspiration in product development?
Our biggest source of inspiration is our end customers and users. So we get requests for other possible articles every day and try to incorporate all these ideas, suggestions and wishes into our product development. Our users are at the centre of all our considerations. Their diverse wishes inspire us every day to further develop our product. This is not only inspiration, but also our promise – whoever has purchased a THEWALL wall will always be able to adapt it to their living situation in the future.
We would like to thank all our interviewees for the interviews!
Die ICONIC AWARDS: Innovative Interior
The projects in this entry were honoured with the “Best of Best” award at the ICONIC AWARDS 2021: Innovative Interior. With the possibilities they offer for individual and flexible home styling, these products are successful examples of the Living Multispaces interior trend.
The ICONIC AWARDS: Innovative Interior annually honour outstanding design achievements of the interior design industry and its partners – and make them visible throughout the industry: an award not only underlines your position as a trendsetter. It also gives you the chance to show your products at one of the most important international furniture fairs. Find out more about the ICONIC AWARDS 2022: Innovative Interior here.
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