Marie-Claire Saunders

Is it a table? Is it a chair? No, it's both!

Marie-Claire Saunders
Is it a table? Is it a chair? No, it's both!

A big trend for the coming year is multi-functional furniture. Why? Boundaries in our lives are becoming more and more blurred. Homes have to function as places to both live and work. People are also adapting to living in smaller houses in big cities. There is a growing need for compact, multifunctional furniture: modular sofas that become beds, or can accommodate tables, as well as surfaces with rechargeable technology.

As a society, we are used to change. We no longer have jobs for life, we move companies, change our work, often having to move to new cities or different environments in order to advance our career. Moreover our personal lives don't stand still either; we marry, have children, retire, downsize. Events such as these, changing how and where we live means our furniture needs to be able to adapt to our varying requirements. We need flexibility. We need to make sure that something we buy as a young couple will also work with a family. Alternatively, if we live in a small space, but want to entertain for larger numbers or have a need for storage, our furniture too needs to be able to expand and accommodate this.

Furniture designers are responding to this need for adaptability.

One such designer, James Howlett has created an ingenious piece of furniture. It is described as a "cluster of multifunctional modular forms. Each form is individually designed to serve many purposes and to be of use in almost any room in the house, but when needed the group comes together to build one compact coffee table."

This one modular piece can be: A compact coffee table cluster; two tables and two chairs; storage unit; a desk, a seat, and a book-shelf; a child’s dining table; a TV and games unit and a playground for children.

An item such as this will not only be able to change according to your life circumstances, but also adapt quickly depending on what function you might need your furniture to perform on a particular day.

However, if you'd prefer something more permanent, but still need a multi-functional item for a small space, then take a look at this creative solution for small bedrooms from Studybed. By day it's a desk to work from, with a shelf above for storage. By night, pull the desk down to reveal a bed. And the best bit? There's no need to even tidy your desk at the end of the day, it stays perfectly upright when the bed flips down, ready for you to pick up from where you left off in the morning:

The innovative Italian company clei has a whole range of different items which do more than that just one job. Their multi-functional furniture can be customised according to colour and style. This sofa is perfect for unexpected guests as it quickly converts into a bunk bed.

But it's not just specialist companies creating multi-functional furniture. High street shops have responded too and Ikea has produced a range of furniture with wireless charging units for your phone. This lamp is one item from their range:

Buying one piece of furniture that serves 2 functions, if not more, means every item we own is working harder for us. We'll be able to fit more into a smaller space, it's easier to move house and we're hopefully doing more for the planet too. If we can buy one item instead of two or three, we'll be using up less of the world's resources.

So, next time you're out shopping for a chair, see if it can also become a table...or better still, a storage unit as well!




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