ÄLMHULT, SWEDEN — They say you should dream big, but start small. The small-space experts at IKEA appear to be taking that phrase to heart with one big idea unveiled at this year’s annual Democratic Design Days: robotic furniture that creates big spaces at the push of a button.
IKEA’s fifth annual Democratic Design Days is a two-day event from June 4 to June 5 in the brand’s hometown of Älmhult, Sweden. IKEA provided transportation for us to attend the event. This year, the brand announced a unique partnership with Ori, a Boston-based “robotic interiors” company that made headlines in 2018 for its “pocket closet.” The result is a collection of innovative and flexible home solutions for people who have big dreams for small spaces, including beds that roll away under your storage and closets, a couch that can double as a guest bed, and a living space that converts into bedroom space at the push of a button.
More people live in cities than ever before in human history. That means there are more people squeezing into small spaces than ever before, too, which is where the new collection of ROGNAN robotic furniture comes in, according to Ori’s founder and CEO Hasier Larrea.
“All of our homes are getting smaller and smaller, there’s no denying that,” Larrea said during the IKEA partnership announcement in Älmhult. “That means we can’t design our homes the way we used to when they were twice the size.”
The ROGNAN robotic collection is designed for small-space city dwellers who need to make space out of, well, no space. The technology of the new collection is built using Ori’s robotic platform, combined with the IKEA’s storage solution PLATSA as a starting point for functionality and design. What that means for shoppers is that they can, like with most of their IKEA favorites, swap out functional pieces of the ROGNAN set for the exact needs of their space, ensuring nothing goes to waste. The system also works with IKEA’s TRÅDFRI cabinets and wardrobe smart lighting.
“We have been working with developing small space living solutions for a long time, and we know that some of the biggest challenges in peoples’ homes are storage and finding the place to do all the activities that you’d want to do in your home,” said Seana Strawn, product developer for new innovations at IKEA of Sweden in a press release. “This is especially the case in big cities where people have to make compromises in the functions of their homes. We wanted to change that.”
“Think of the technology [of ROGNAN] as the guts and bones on the inside and what you see on the outside as the skin,” Larrea told HuffPost. That “skin” is made of the IKEA components that provide the functionality of your robotic system, be it a bed that lowers from the ceiling, a bedroom that converts into a walk-in closet or a closet that becomes a living room — all at the push of a button.
“It’s like something you’d see in movies,” Larrea said, “but now more and more people can live with this [technology] in the very near future.”
That said, if you’re eager to get your hands on one of these smart systems, you might have to wait if you’re in the U.S. The first launch of ROGNAN will be in the high-demand markets of Hong Kong and Japan in 2020.
In the meantime, here are some of our favorite small space IKEA innovations that you can shop today:
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