Living in the city of tomorrow

The world is changing – quickly, visibly, palpably for us all. Urbanisation and gentrification are processes that have a direct effect on communal and domestic life. Urban centres are growing according to area and density. As a consequence, housing is becoming scarcer and more expensive, and the available living space is dwindling in both absolute and per capita terms. This is an issue for which the interior design sector, and the furniture industry specifically, needs to find suitable answers quickly.

“Modern living” is always a reflection of social processes and circumstances. With global migration flows, urbanisation in industrialised and emerging economies, the concentration of available resources in congested urban areas and the very conscious shift in attitude towards minimalist living and sustainability, completely new approaches to work, accommodation and life in general are required in the near future.

“Tiny spaces” concepts are among these approaches. They optimise living space in precisely those locations where very little of it is available. “Technical upgrades, demands for increased flexibility at work, never-ending rent rises in cities and sociodemographic changes in age distribution and cultural make-up: it is high time we considered how apartments can achieve quality, generousness and atmosphere in just a small space,” says Professor Ulrich Nether (Dipl.-Ing.) from the Detmold School of Architecture and Interior Design at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences (OWL).

Four of Professor Nether’s students, together with design scout Katrin de Louw, have therefore developed ideas for solutions and design concepts for interiors and furniture in small and extremely small spaces. In this context, Lena Klein-Erwig, Mascha Großmann, Jessica Neumann, Tessa Sieker and Celina Stiehl from Professor Ulrich Nether and Ricarda Jacobi’s interior design master’s course at OWL are presenting their very own, ultra-compact concepts for furnishings and design. These concepts will be presented as part of a special exhibit at ZOW 2018.

Four project ideas for great living in small spaces

Visitors will be amazed by Lena Klein-Erwig’s suitcase cupboard, “Herrendiener des Feierabends” (evening valet stand). The aim of her residential model is to give modern career nomads the maximum amount of free space and more private time to enjoy life. The cupboard made of light cherry wood and positioned in the centre of the room is supported by the surrounding objects in the “tiny space” – so as to allow the morning and evening routine to be ideally organised. Mascha Großmann, on the other hand, prefers the versatility of space. And it is irrelevant to her how much or how little space is available: her objective is to arouse enthusiasm for a great feeling of spaciousness. As a result, she puts the focus on transitions between public and private areas in order to create the right atmosphere for all situations.

Minimalist living for couples is the major theme for Jessica Neumann and Tessa Sieker. Their system of so-called “Interior cases” allows buyers to enjoy a carefree, mobile lifestyle, because rented apartments can be transformed into very personal homes in little time. Three core elements define their interiors experiment: mobility, minimalism and value. Finally, Celina Stiehl puts the living situation of a single parent with a child at the heart of her thinking. The highlight is a solid, multifunctional maple table on an imaginary, honeycomb-shaped floor plan. A second floor for the child, as well as a kitchen and stairs, can also be experienced thanks to VR glasses.

Compact living: a key topic for furnishings and interiors trade fairs

The students were given complete freedom in the development work – so the results presented at the fair will also be a surprise, be they space-saving, comfort, safety or universal design solutions. However, it will largely depend on the acceptance and support received from supplier companies and furniture manufacturers whether the special exhibit sets new benchmarks for exceptional living in small spaces. Until then, ZOW and imm cologne 2018 will continue to provide new inspiration.