Digital at the Expense of Design

Since televisions invaded the home in 1958, designers have had to work around the tube, which has ingloriously become a centerpiece for many American rooms. But up to this point, the furniture itself has adapted very little to our own ergonomic needs. Recently, some new designers are envisioning spaces in which sleek iPads and iPhones hold a far more integral role in the room: the devices themselves have become the furniture. As detailed in this last week’s Steven Kurutz’ New York Times’ Design Notebook piece, designers are finding new ways to bridge the gap between traditional and technology. Gretchen Gscheidle, who leads product development at Herman Miller, believes that the brand must “accommodate that technology” rather than layer it on as an afterthought. Designers at Hollandia are taking a more direct approach, creating technologically based pieces that make no attempt to conceal their functionality. This approach is evident in their iCon bed (see below), which features a headboard equipped with speakers, an amplifier and multiple tablet docking stations.

iCon bed from Hollandia

Conversely, brands like CB2, M2L and Cappellini are designing more discrete pieces that alter the way we use our devices in the home instead of being defined by them. This Scene XXL Chair from M2L has an optional tablet table and an upholstered high back designed for privacy when typing or making phone calls.

Scene XXL Chair from M2L

We’ve always believed that furniture means more to its owner and its space than mere functionality, but this still makes us scratch our head…What role do you think technology should have in a room? Is it inevitable in the home and should designers adjust their approach?

We know we’re not planning on docking iPads in our furniture any time soon…

*All photos and quotes courtesy of Steven Kurutz of the New York Times.

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