As urban cities move toward denser living, a huge market has opened up for transformer or modular furniture – furniture that serves multiple purposes.
With consumers becoming more concerned with environmentally responsible products and design that is purposeful, consumers are expecting more from their furniture.
Modular furniture pieces, such as a chair that turns into a desk, chairs that stack and clever furniture hidden within furniture structures, have the ability to direct a room's function, allowing it to be flexible while the furniture itself is simple and can be transformed without the use of tools.
Aesthetically, these flexible pieces also tend to offer a sleek, minimalist design that appeal to modern or industrial décor.
Here are eight transformer furniture pieces for consideration:
1. Ludovico Office
Uruguayan industrial designer Claudio Sibille won an A’Furniture and Homeware Design Award in 2012 for this concept.
Ludovico Office is effectively a storage cabinet with a series of drawers that cleverly conceals a foldable table and chair. It is also completely mobile, sitting atop four wheels.
Sibille’s entire collection is dedicated to solutions for rooms where space is limited, with pieces built to occupy minimal space or cleverly transform to other useful pieces.
2. Kai Table
Designers Naoki Hirakoso and Takamitsu Kitahara designed the Kai Table over a decade ago, perhaps forecasting the rise of modular furniture.
The timber lounge or coffee table is filled with storage opportunities by way of drawers and pop up cupboards.
When the storage compartments are closed, the square table offers a clean, smooth finish. Measuring 900 by 900 millimetres, KAI table is constructed from a mix of reclaimed wood and teak, and finished with a low-VOC natural oil.
The Kai Table is still for sale on the designers' website and is accompanied by a host of other clever transforming furniture including stools that stack as storage.
3. Stair Drawers
Taking advantage of valuable under stair storage is no secret, but stairs have taken an innovative turn in recent years with the steps themselves transformed into a usable space.
Australian company Stairpro, based out of Brisbane, has a trademark pending on the In Step Drawer, which embeds drawers into a new or existing staircase.
“The solid timber dovetailed drawers are designed to reuse the existing riser-board as the drawer front and they are smooth running and are soft closing,” the company explains.
4. MK1 Transforming Coffee Table
Coffee tables appear to be one of the most popular furniture pieces when it comes to modular furniture and last year, designer Christopher Duffy unveiled his own version, the MK1 Transforming Coffee Table.
The table can be turned into a dining table by simply folding out the eaves.
The design reflects a clean and minimal aesthetic and is constructed from solid oak or walnut and high-grade birch plywood from Forest Stewardship Council managed forests and other controlled sources.
5. BADA Table
Designed with New Yorkers and their traditional small apartment lifestyles in mind, the BADA Table is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based company Ecosystems.
BADA Table begins as a work desk, extends to become a dining table and can end up as a comfortable loveseat.
Ecosystems, as the name suggests, is also noted for its sustainable ventures and “life enriching” designs with the BADA Table constructed entirely from reclaimed walnut.
6. CLEI Transforming Wall Bed Systems
CLEI, a global leader in transformable furniture, distributes its space-saving beds through Resource Furniture in the United States.
Made in Italy, the systems are described as a modern Murphy Bed; the beds are self-standing and open vertically to reveal queen, twin or single beds. Attached is a shelving unit that sits seamlessly under the bed with any items atop the shelf able to remain there.
Mr Simon, an independent design studio based in Valencia, Spain, is made up of designers Aarón Feliú and Ignacio Frías who created Cóm-oda – a desk that unfolds into six chairs.
The chairs are folded in a row to make up a desk that features an “antique commode” printed on its surface.
“Our intention was to give them a new functionality as they spend most of the time hidden in some corner around the house,” explain the designers. “When the chairs are folded, the image becomes more apparent, as it does the new functionality."
Casulo takes modular furniture design a step further; it's an entire room for temporary use that fits into a box and can be assembled in a mere 10 minutes.
It opens up to reveal a living and office space that includes a desk, filing cabinet and chair, while a bedroom can be easily assembled with a bed frame, mattress, wardrobe and shelves.
Casulo is a collaborative project by German designers Marcel Krings and Sebastian Mühlhäuser who developed the concept that they hope will come to fruition to respond to a mobile future.
“We are facing an enormous challenge, for in the working-world of the future we will have to adapt to a more mobile style of life,” they explain on their website. “The Casulo concept offers an inventive and achievable opportunity to face the demands of mobile living. At first glance the new mobility may seem restrictive and over economical yet the future generation will take the new style of life for granted and appreciate even more the increase in mobility, freedom and flexibility.”