Origami: the unfolding culture of tiny living

I like the idea of reinvention, of taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.  It’s so hopeful, magical…fantastical.  Ori is all that and brains.  As someone that lives in a city and works in the Architecture/Engineering and Construction (A/E/C) Industry,  I am subjected to daily reports of housing shortages, and forums on the need for densification.  Densification does not sound at all sexy, but perhaps with Ori it could be.

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A collaboration between MIT’s Media Lab and Fuseproject, Ori Systems is a powered movable wheel mounted furniture piece.  Kent Larson, who heads MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places Group doesn’t believe our cities are sustainable.  He reports that 90% of the population growth will be in cities, that cities will be responsible for 75% of our global energy use – how can these cities function better, maintain and enhance the quality of our lives.  These are the challenges Kent and his group are working on.  Ori is part of that.

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Larson and Fuseproject are not only imaging the democratization of luxury housing in Ori, but they are conceiving of ways to make it highly personalized.  Dining, dancing, working, sleeping, exercising, relaxing and/or entertaining all in one small 250 – 300SF space.  Possible.  Increased sunlight, colored mood lighting, bedroom, expanded bathroom – fold, tuck, slide, and glide into place, just like the ancient paper folding art of Origami from which Ori takes its name.  A touch of a button on Ori’s control panel and the mobile system transforms at your command. Exhausted after a long day, and want to drop into bed the moment you walk through your door, open the App, and abracadabra, your full or queen bed appears from it’s compact hiding place, and awaits your arrival.

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Available to developers creating micro unit housing for about $10,000 a system, Ori will make its debut in Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle this summer.  Living small, as I have always believed, can be luxe.  Tiny need not a cramped source of shame, and desire for something more.  Tiny can be the envy of all when it is clever, cool, and stylish.  Be ORIginal . live your way.

Simon Says…small living is sublime

Simon Woodroffee wasn’t through with his Yo-deling after the launch of his Yotel Air and Yotel Urban Locations, the founder decided to add Yo! Home to his portfolio of small, but perfectly appointed apartments.  Just 40 square meters (430.5sf), these units possess all that you would expect a posh city pad to have; a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and living room.  Ample storage too.

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Sunken Living and Dining Room disappear to make way for sleep.

Drawing from the same inspiration that brought Yotel to the market – an overnight flight to London tucked into the cozy confines of a British Airways first class sleeping pod – Simon got his bright idea.  Little can be simply lovely, and he set about proving it.  Now with the help of Glenn Howells Architects, Manchester, England is in the approvals stage for its own Yo! Home.  This stackable building complex will be largely prefabricated off-site, in the quality controlled environment of a warehouse.  This approach, in and of itself, is cost savings, and increases the quality of the end product as you don’t suffer the indignities of winter conditions, manpower shortages, and sequencing difficulties.  Just assemble, and slide onto the truck for delivery!

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Let’s get comfortable.  Style and sophistication on every level.

I have seen a lot of small spaces of late. The U-Hu (Boston’s road show of a solution to micro apartments), tiny houses on wheels, Ori (MIT Media Lab’s high-tech apartment in an amour), these are all steps in the right direction.  Densification is a hot topic, because frankly the population is getting hot under the color over the lack of affordable housing, and that has to change. The question has long been, “how do you make a little slip of a space desirable?”  How do you make it cool, sought after, coveted?  Yo! Home just might be the answer.

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When I first saw the renderings, and watched the video about how these spaces transform into a flat (you know, the word for an English Studio) – I have to admit I thought about Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk.  I should say that I love this movie.  1959, a time when a girl was taken on a proper date, when men dressed for dinner, and Doris Day had suitors that bought her cars to try and win her affection.  I’m thinking about this because it’s time for a new car, and that little grey Mercedes with its red interior, that she turned down … hello.  At any rate, no one is currently offering to buy me a new car, so I can’t possibly know whether or not I would turn it down because its offer is so highly inappropriate.  Is it so wrong to want the opportunity?

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Yo! could you say no?

Rock Hudson had a bachelor pad to beat all bachelor pads.  His sitting area converted to a bedroom, lights dimmed on command, music popping out from behind hidden panels.  A perfect modern wood wall suddenly reveals a cocktail bar, and Manhattan’s are served.  So is the case with Yo! Home.  The king size bed drops from the ceiling concealing the sunken living room, the dining table drops down into the floor and is covered over for safety.  The kitchen is revealed from behind glossy fold away doors.  Underfloor storage offers what us Feng Shui enthusiasts dream of – a place to hide away the clutter that is destined to keep us from realizing our full potential.

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Sleek lines, modern design, sunken tub…yes please.

Yo – can you feel me when I say, if these baby’s make their way to Boston, even at the conversion rate of 150,000 Euro, I’ll take one.  It could be the suitor for whom I’ve been waiting.