Friday, February 19, 2016

Furniture for introverts? Tell me more.

All I needed to do was see a subhead in an Economist article that read "Furniture for the introverted," and I was all in. I mean, after all these years living la vida introverta, I had never realized that we had our own furniture needs. 

I knew, of course, that we need privacy. And quiet. And "white space" in our lives where nothing, but nothing, intrudes. But, beyond something we can curl up in with a good book, do we really require our own furniture? Who knew? Not this introvert.

Not surprisingly, the concept is coming to fruition in Japan, where - from what I've heard - people are in general more reserved, and the living spaces tend to be smallish. In fact, while US homes have been supersizing, Japanese homes have been downsizing: shrinking from 70 square meters to 60 square meters over the last decade. This probably works better in part because of the simplicity of Japanese design: not a lot of hoo-hah involved. But, given the small spaces, it migh be hard to enjoy that zen garden room when everyone in the family rolls out their tatami mats alongside you. 

What some Japanese furniture makers have dreamed up is: otoko no kakureya, or "hiding place for men," a tiny cockpit-like room with a desk, shelves and reclining chair. Sales are taking off. (Source: The Economist)
Of course sales are taking off! Who wouldn't want a hiding place. I just don't think they're FOR MEN ONLY. In fact, when I was a kid, growing up in house too small for the number of people it held, designing in my mind my very own hiding place, this was pretty much it. Except mine was an overstuffed armchair, not a recliner.

Even my inner introvert would take a pass on the Solo Theatre, "a cardboard box that users put over their heads, which has slot for Apple's iPhone."

I like small, contained spaces - no "open concept" for me - but this sounds just a wee bit claustrophobia-inducing.

The co-designer described it as "a selfish product that appeals to the need to get into a small womblike space of one's own and watch films and other content." Okay. I guess I just prefer my small spaces to be not quite so womblike.

Then there's the indoor tent. And the soundproof cardboard box for karaoke. (Hey, I thought the entire idea of karaoke was getting up and exposing yourself and your inner-warbler to a bunch of strangers who are, with luck, liquored up enough to not notice when you go flat, but not so liquored up that they'll boo you off the stage for it.)

Despite the fact that introverts are everywhere, there may not be much of an international market for these wares. They are considered a bit too eccentric, a bit too Japanese. Kind of like Hello Kitty for grownups, I guess.

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