The integration of some technological devices in fashion has become a tangible thing, but multiple projects presented in the last few years during Milan Design Week proved that technology offers exciting opportunities for different interior design projects as well.
This is just one of the many projects elaborated in the last few years by Carlo Ratti Associati, an office operating across the globe and working on different issues and suggesting solutions about overpopulation, reducing the waste of water and redistributing energy.
Originally unveiled last year as a prototype developed with the support of the Swiss manufacturer Vitra, during the "Rooms. Novel Living Concepts" exhibition organized for the 21st Milan Triennale, the piece was presented at the Opendot space in via Tertulliano 70.
The sofa is a composite honeycomb structure with several hexagons that can be manipulated thanks to embedded motion-tracking sensors. The individual stools' height can be easily varied remotely through a dedicated mobile app or with a hand gesture (which means you will still be able to use the sofa if the app becomes obsolete or if you dont have the means to run the app).
The capacitive control system embedded in the seats' soft texture allows each stool to sense the presence of a person's hand close to it and start moving accordingly; while the app includes a series of predetermined three-dimensional shapes and a tool to invent dynamic combinations. The seating system can therefore be rearranged in infinite numbers of ways (its designers talk about an "almost-endless set of configurations") and can be reinvented as a bed, a chaise longue, a group of armchairs, or a playground for kids.
"Lift-Bit draws on the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to transform our interior landscape", says Professor Carlo Ratti, founder of Carlo Ratti Associati studio and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "In the future, we could imagine an architecture that adapts to human need, rather than the other way around - a living, tailored space that is molded to its inhabitants' needs, characters, and desires," Ratti adds.
Alessandro Masserdotti, co-founder of Opendot, highlights instead the "collective" edge of this piece, explaining "Lift-Bit gives people the possibility to actively contribute to the design of their own space. It is a participatory design, which never ceases to surprise you, and it surely cannot bore you."
The Lift-Bit sofa introduces therefore a new and innovative vision of interior design, but don't think you should discard the past and just look at the future: the idea for this piece comes indeed from radical British architect Cedric Price's 1970s "Generator Project".
The latter - a proposal for the Gilman Paper Corporation commissioned by Howard Gilman - suggested a series of relocatable structures that could have provided facilities for the performing arts and for visiting artists. These cube-like structures were mounted on a permanent grid of foundation pads. The final result would have been a sort of intelligent building, capable of responding, adapting and reacting to changing requirements.
It will be exciting to see if it will be possible to apply the same concept and technology behind the "Lift-Bit" to wider spaces, including theatres, cinemas, hospitals or shop displays.
What we know so far is that there has been a strong interest in the "Lift-Bit": since it was first launched, the piece was a finalist in the FastCo Innovation by Design Award 2016 and it has been exhibited at Linz's Ars Electronica festival and at Weil am Rhein's Vitra Design Museum (as part of the "Hello, Robot" exhibition, until May 2017). The piece is currently available for pre-order by customers worldwide.