The latest technology is at the forefront of interior design, enabling customers to “co-design” their homes. Computer wizardry allows us all to determine the scale of a piece of furniture and the effect it will have in a room — before we even place an order.
It’s something that is becoming increasingly popular. At the London Design Festival, Marks & Spencer used virtual reality software to help create a room’s look in 3D.
Do it ‘yourshelf’
Tylko — a name meaning “only” in Polish — is a new furniture brand making use of such technology. Using an app on your smartphone, you can design a shelving unit in a choice of finishes, customised to virtually any size and permutation, getting instant price quotes as you go along. You can also design a table in a range of sizes, with tops and legs that can be changed around at will.
Then comes the final touch. Using the app’s video setting, the furniture you have designed will appear in a video you have shot of rooms in your home, so you can see how your selection will look — from any angle — before you order. “You can design, visualise and order your furniture without ever leaving your space,” says Tylko founder Jacek Majewski.
However, technology still requires a designer for attractive end results. Tylko has collaborated with Swiss-born Yves Béhar to create the Hub table, which is fashioned from a high-density fibreboard and comes with either a matte or oak veneer. Visit www.tylko.com to have fun while exploring the possibilities.
Italian designer Luca Nichetto has evolved a new lighting concept for Finnish brand Hem. The Alphabeta is a quirky pendant made up of two geometric parts, with a choice of eight shapes in all. You can visit www.hem.com to try out your own design combinations. Currently, Hem has a pop-up shop at 9 Earlham Street, WC2 to demonstrate its new concept.
Turn up the heat
As well as working with Tylko, designer Yves Béhar is involved in a new heating/hot water control-system from British Gas, called Hive. Based on the concept of the “connected home”, appliances are linked wirelessly and are controlled through a phone or laptop. Hive has three parts: an attractively styled thermostat, a receiver that sits near your boiler and a hub that plugs into the router. Coming soon are smart plugs, which can switch appliances such as irons on and off, and security motion sensors to monitor doors and windows.
Walls have eyes
The work of France’s Bouroullec brothers, Ronan and Erwan, is having an impact worldwide. The designers’ excursion into technology was to make a television for Samsung more “domestic”, as they put it.
The result, Serif, is a slimline set with a self-supporting frame, and a shelf on top. An abstract pattern appears on the screen when it’s not being used, and the back is covered with a fabric panel. The TVs cost from £499 to £1,199.
Launched last week, Sony’s 4K Ultra Short Throw projector is a new way to put pictures on your walls. It is a sleek box that sits at the base of your wall, and turns it into a giant screen — a 147-inch image, with four times the clarity of existing HD, according to Sony.
Digital printing is already huge, of course, and is being used for numerous capsule collections.
Feathr.com is an ambitious project, printing wallpaper sourced from 70 independent artists in 25 countries on demand. The firm’s business has depended on the internet from inception. Founder Tom Puukko says: “Feathr is shaking up the old-fashioned world of designer wallpaper by introducing digital innovation across the board.”
A tool for change
Embracing new technology has reshaped the agency of young London designer Benjamin Hubert, who has renamed his company, Layer. He has won a string of awards for his lighting and furniture, but says: “Now we are working on ideas that make a difference. We want our design to be a tool for change, and technology is of the essence.”
One example — commissioned by The Carbon Trust — is a wristband linked with an app that helps you cut your carbon footprint. Visit www.layerdesign.com to see how it works.
Blueprint for the future
Design duo Jay Osgerby and Edward Barber, who created the 2012 Olympic torch, are ahead of the game with an offshoot specifically to work on digital technologies for design (www.mapprojectoffice.com).
Futuristic products include “wireless building blocks” developed with the company SAM Labs. Their mini-computerised components can be used to build connectivity into designers’ own products.
There’s also a self-build computer, and a toy ball (called Hackaball) which children can programme themselves. Another company, called Technology Will Save Us, sells computer kits to teach children programming.