Over the past decades digital and networked technologies have impacted on most aspects of our lives: from the way we work to how we access knowledge, meet and get to know each other. How will they transform our domestic furniture? Our Universe brings together a new collection of furniture prototypes that explore this question, across three main axes: the evolution of production processes thanks to the development of new technologies; the changing habits due to the ability to interact with our devices; the physical integration of technology with furniture design to provide new functions and services. The different pieces on show are currently being further developed for production by Cassina and Carlo Ratti Associati.
A PROJECT BY CASSINA AND CARLO RATTI ASSOCIATI:
ON SHOW FUORI-SALONE AT THE CASSINA SHOWROOM IN MILAN (8-13th APRIL 2014) AND AS PART OF THE EXHIBITION ERASMUS EFFECT AT MAXXI IN ROME UNTIL 4th MAY 2014
adapt and react coffee table
Function: A reconfigurable module that works as a standalone coffee table
to accompany any sofa - a table-top for working, eating, writing and reading, a
magazine rack or a cup holder.
Design: The individual pieces of the MyWing coffee table were designed using digital
systems that allowed for the specific detail and function of the hinges. The laser cutting of
these pieces gives the final effect of artisanal quality using classical materials.
Research: Technical study for the design of a pre-configured system of joints that
results in the furniture’s structure and allows the various configurations: closed, partially-
Re-configurability / Physical transformation for new habits / Social value / Parametric
Function: Integrated into the sofa like an armrest, this wooden surface has a steel
structure that allows it to rotate, providing an easy and effortless configuration that
facilitates the different uses desired: working, eating, writing, reading and storage.
Design: The materials and production processes used here result in a seemingly
traditionally-crafted outcome. Behind this effect, however, are digitally designed and laser
Research: Inspired by the backrest mechanism of the Maralunga sofa by Vico
Magistretti for the Cassina I Contemporanei Collection, this mechanical study for a module
design of special joints have been designed for the needs of the user in the digital era.
Re-configurability / Physical transformation for new habits / Social value
Function: The Chain Sofa is a transformable day-bed made up of a sequence of rollers
connected by hinges which permit rotation through a system similar to that of a bicycle
chain: with a simple movement it can transform from a bed, to a chaise-lounge, from a
chaise-longue to an armchair, before returning back to a bed.
Design: Each hinge is made of steel ‘blocks’ that allow individual rollers to rotate to
certain angles, controlling the different configurations that can be produced.
Research: It was necessary to verify the mechanism configurations through advanced
simulation. Using kinematic analysis it was possible to determine stable and compatible
configurations for best usability, and structural analysis for the right balance between
performance (re-configurability; resistant materials) and minimal effort (comfort criteria;
Re-configurability / Physical transformation for new habits / Parametric design
Function: MyWall is envisioned as a canvas screen on which a free flowing pen writes, erases and
constantly rewrites using programmed input. MyWall can write, draw or decorate thanks
to the user’s input. On the one hand a large whiteboard, on the other hand a device that
can become a simple and immediate way to create works of art, decorations or text in real
time, on any surface, in the home.
Function: The Mag Lev Lazy Susan is a contemporary reinterpretation of the Lazy
Susan, which moves serving dishes around the dining table. Magnetic levitation (Mag
Lev) allows for a levitating system to carry plates with non-circular trajectories, serving all
guests with a single system, even in the case of noncircular tables.
Research: Mag Lev has been used in many ways for the design of furniture, such as
lamps or picture frames, with great success thanks to its functionality and attractiveness.
Here the study of permanent magnets and active systems (as well as trajectories, speed
and control of movement) is used to configure the levitation and stabilization system, and
adapt the Lazy Susan to any shape of table.
Sensing and responding / Social value / Cyber functionality / Flexibility
Function: More than a traditional mirror, The Looking Glass can recognise its user and
through direct gesture interaction allow them to control the augmented image of themself:
one of the novel functions being the ability to view the entire body, both front and back.
Design: The Looking Glass works through the discrete integration of various
technologies (an LCD screen, a webcam and a 3D scanner) with one-way glass - a sheet
of reflective glass, which if backlit is transparent.
Research: The possibilities of 3D scanning are explored including the data management
of the augmented reflection of users through 360 degrees.
Augmented furniture / Direct interactivity / Data collection and control / Personalisation
Function: The MyMood sofa responds to users’ touch (or a smartphone app, ambient
sound) by providing a unique lighting effect, from ambient lighting to drawings or text.
Design: A 2D LED matrix controlled by sensors (or software) is invisibly integrated into
the sofa’s fabric upholstery. Each LED is lit through an integrated motion sensor, sensitive
to the user’s touch, therefore the user is able to activate the surface by simply brushing
their hand over it in one direction and in the opposite direction to deactivate it.
Research: MyMood represents a break-through innovation in interactive design thanks
to the integration of an ambient light display into the sofa’s structure to create a sensitive,
responsive and interactive piece of furniture.
Sensing and responding / Interactivity / Furniture as a device / Personalisation
Chain Sofa, in collaboration with: Mario Sassone (Professore aggregato DAD - Dipartimento di Architettura e Design, Politecnico di Torino), Skylar Tibbits (Department of Architecture, MIT); execution by: FGM (team: Fabrizio Milani)
Mag Lev Lazy Susan, in collaboration with: Giancarlo Genta, Andrea Tonoli (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aereospaziale, Politecnico di Torino), FGM (team: Fabrizio Milani)
The Looking Glass, execution by: TonicMinds Srl (team: Enrico Gueli), Andrea Patrucco
MyMood, execution by: Illogic srl (team: Marco Bombara)
MyWall, execution by: Pietro Leoni, Franco Magni
Special thanks to: Officine Arduino / FabLab Torino