Monday, July 18, 2016

What next? Apparently robotic furniture…

Although at my advanced age, I won’t be opting for a home in which I have to climb a ladder steep-angled at 90 degrees before I can crawl into bed, I am a huge fan of the tiny house movement, and enjoy watching the chronicles of tiny-house hunters (not to be confused with tiny house-hunters) on HGTV. My favorites are the shows where someone who’s declared they want to live in 100 or 200 square feet starts to bitch about where they’re going to store their off-season clothing, or starts asking how they’re going to entertain all their friends.

I also enjoy the ones where couples and even families decide to radically downsize. After a couple of nights in a tiny house, I’m certain my husband and I would have killed each other. But there are couples, and couples with kids, who are really gung ho. There was one family with 5 kids that wanted a home of 400 or 500 square feet. Yet they kept stressing the need for their teenage daughter to have a room with privacy. Having grown up in a family with 5 kids, living in a 1,600 square foot house, I’m going to go out on a tiny little limb here and say that the only way their teenage daughter is going to get any privacy in a 500 square foot home is if they ship the 4 younger kids off to boarding school.

All this said, I do find myself fantasizing about living in a cute lil’ tiny house. Only mine would have to be all on one floor. And I’d be living there all by my lonesome.

It’s not just the tiny houses. Although I currently enjoy an embarrassment of square-footage riches – 1,240, baby! – I also like keeping my eye on the microunit apartment trend.

Having lived in a studio apartment for a number of years back in the day, I know I can do it again if I have to. (Maybe.)

So I was interested to read about Ori:

…the first company out of MIT Media Lab’s CityHome research project, is creating furniture for urban spaces -- not just smaller pieces, but smarter ones, equipped with robotics that move on demand.

The Ori unit will be marketed as a single system that can be customized to offer a bed, desk, and closet. It can also be shifted around the room to tuck all of that away and slide to one side to make space for a living room. (Source: Boston Globe)

You can take a look for yourself on the Orisystems’ site, but it really is exceptionally cool, starting with the name, which comes from “origami.”

A couple of observations.

First off, I have to say that I’m more of a color than a monochrome person, so if I were living in a microunit kitted out with Ori, the first thing I’d do was get on Wayfair and Pottery Barn and order up some color. And pattern. Having just installed two new pillows – a navy and white geometric and an orange and blue mandala-ish print -  in my living room, which already had four pillows, I am living witness to the power of a bit more color to perk up an already colorful and perked up room.

Also I will note that the inhabitants of these units seem to be both living in and working from home. This may be the wave of the employment future, and I’ve done it myself for years. But just like when you’re working in an office, you sometimes have to get up and stroll around. And there’s not much room to stretch you legs in a micro-unit. Nor, if you need to press a button to slide your bedroom into place, do you get the work-from-home advantage of being able to duck out of your office and into your bedroom for a bit of a rainy mid-afternoon snooze.

Finally, most of the tiny houses and microunits I see cater to the young. And one thing most young people haven’t accumulated is as much stuff as use oldsters.

Having completed a ‘pretend-I’m-moving-and-get-rid-of-stuff’ renovation last year, I know that some of us accumulate way too much, even if we live in 1,240 square feet with precious little storage space. But there’s stuff you don’t mind jettisoning, and there’s stuff you want to hang on to.

By the time you’re my age, you’ve got stuff from the sentimental journey that is life. I have one grandmother’s cookie jar, the other’s sampler (embroidered when she was 12). I have the steer horns that hung in my Grandfather Rogers’ saloon. I have my father’s childhood dresser, and the claw foot table, a mirror, a couple of lamps, and a desk and chair from my Grandmother Rogers’ house. I have a chair that was my mother’s. Another that was my Aunt Margaret’s. Not to mention a bunch of my mother’s bric-a-brac (and a bit that came from Margaret), and my mother’s Dutch oven, which I’ve hung onto even though it doesn’t work on my induction cooktop. I have a couple of hundred Christmas ornaments, some of which hung on the trees of my childhood.

And then there’s the stuff that I’ve accumulated on my own.

Much as I fantasize about it, moving into an apartment that was much smaller than my condo would require some serious picking and choosing. Let alone if I went into an Ori-equipped microunit.

Still, it’s fun to see what the young folks are up to, living-wise. And to take an occasional peek at the Jetson home of the future.

I’m sure I’ll be downsizing at some point in time. Maybe I can robotocize some of my accumulation. Or maybe I’ll just have to settle for holographic renditions that I can summon up when I want to take a tiny virtual stroll down memory lane.

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