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.

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- opened, opened.

Re-configurability / Physical transformation for new habits / Social value / Parametric design

an incorporated rotating surface

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 cut elements.

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

chain sofa
a ‘rolling’ transformable day-bed

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; light materials).

Re-configurability / Physical transformation for new habits / Parametric design

free flowing thoughts to be jotted and erased

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.

mag lev lazy susan
flying plates for a magic dinner

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

the looking glass
augmented reflection, from back to front

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

my mood
responsive illumination for sofa upholstery

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


Our Universe, a project by Cassina and Carlo Ratti Associati.

Cassina Centro Ricerca & Sviluppo (R&D)

Carlo Ratti Associati

Team: Carlo Ratti, Walter Nicolino, Giovanni de Niederhausern, Andrea Cassi, Pietro Leoni, Andrea Galli, Antonio Atripaldi, Alberto Bottero, Alessandro Incisa, Jennifer Young

MyWing (freestanding & built in), execution by: FGM (team: Fabrizio Milani)

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

Graphic design by: studio FM milano

Multimedia communication by: MyBossWas