I consider my living room couch to be a sacred place, defiantly facing my TV, as a vessel for upholstered, uninterrupted media consumption. But I also recognize the archaic cringe of this entire setup, and how much of my home is situated around a single, relatively dumb screen.
Samsung, one of the leading producers of screens in the world, recognizes this oddity, too. And so it commissioned the Stockholm-based design firm Form Us With Love—known for projects like styrofoam lamps and clients like Ikea—to rethink the couch for ever-snugger living arrangements filled with tablets and phones.
The resulting concept is called Shift. It’s ostensibly a 10’x10’ hammock woven from nylon. Clipped with hooks and carabiners into wall-mounts or a frame, Shift can take the shape of a traditional couch. Or it can be positioned more like a chaise where you read a book. Or it can be a wavy bed that faces a projection on the ceiling. Since its shape is largely dictated by how it’s mounted, Shift can act as a different piece of furniture depending on where it’s placed and what you want to do there.
Our bulky furniture of today doesn’t operate in this way, and John Löfgren, cofounder of Form Us With Love, points out that offices have been trending toward more flexible arrangements for some time. For instance, Herman Miller’s recent OE1 line featured small workstations and dividers on wheels that could be moved for ad hoc team restructurings. And in the culinary world, induction hot plates and modular fixtures have allowed kitchens to break free of bulky fixed stoves and the traditional brigade. Yet, aside from limited options like bean bag chairs and inflatable furniture, our domestic interior design tends to be fixed—which is particularly surprising, given the rapid pace of change in our domestic technologies over the past decade.
“We were working with one of the biggest tech companies, so we had the opportunity to glance into the future,” says Löfgren. “It’s not like the car industry that takes ages to introduce a new model. The watching experience has changed so much [so fast]. All of the sudden, you have a family with five tablets in the same room.”
Of course, Shift’s flexibility is intended to do a lot more than just help someone watch a new-fangled screen. With no foams or upholstery, Shift can be moved from room to room, or simply folded up and put away, opening up previous floor space for any and all non-screen activities in your life. The product can even be tossed into a washing machine and dropped into an overnight bag to bring on a trip. Since nylon is such a durable material, Löfgren suggests that the design could last up to “half a lifetime.”
Yet, as of now, Samsung has no plans to take Shift into production, and Form Us With Love is just starting its own validation process with its initial prototype. But with any luck, something will come of the idea—if only so my couch could face something other than my TV every once in a while.