Express your individuality with customised designs
Ever fancied yourself as a product designer? Thanks to a new crop of modular items for the home, you can now have much more of a creative hand in how your interiors look. It’s like Lego for grown-ups: take a handful of simple elements and build them in a unique way to express your style.
“People are becoming more interested in modularity. There’s a different mentality, especially among younger consumers: they want to be a part of the creative process and have something more individual in their home,” says Petros Belimpasakis, director and head of sound at Bang & Olufsen. Known for its cutting-edge approach to design for home technology products, the company has recently launched BeoSound Shape, a speaker system made up of an assortment of tessellated fabric-covered hexagons that sprawl across a wall. The hexagons – which conceal either a speaker, an amplifier or acoustic dampening material – clip together to create any shape. There are 10 fabrics available and a choice of acoustic quality too, giving even more freedom to customise.
Belimpasakis links our desire to shape our products to the wider trend for growing our own food or baking our own bread – we want to gain an understanding of something from the inside out. “Older generations are happy to go to a specialist and let them design something on their behalf. Millennials are more interested in not just going to the experts, but becoming the experts.”
From a sales perspective, it’s brilliant: with a single product, Bang & Olufsen can target the casual home listener who needs a small set-up and the swanky hotel that wants a huge statement wall of speakers. Buildyour-own products make impressive marketing materials, too: Movisi, the modular furniture designer, claims that its Grow! U-shaped units can make 10,000 possible items of furniture, and when Scandinavian brand Hem launched its Alphabeta lighting, a system of stackable metal shades in various shapes and colours, it boasted that there were a possible 10 billion combinations.
There seem to be two factors to a good modular design: simplicity, so that there’s no hassle in putting the components together or moving them round, and fun – it should be enjoyable to design and build. In the lighting industry, the Arrangements system by Italian brand Flos, which is launching next year, allows geometric elements (hoops, squares, bars and more) to link together: where the elements touch, spring contacts allow the electrical current to run throughout the chain.
“For me, the beauty of modular furniture is the element of play,” says Samuel Chan, whose company, Channels, makes an angled timber bookcase system called Mr Knock that can become anything from a single unit to wall-spanning mega-storage. The shelves slot together without requiring any screws, making the experience of assembling
Skandium’s String Shelving System, main, starts from £79; prices start at £48 for Movisi’s Grow! flexible furniture, below; Arrangements
lighting launches in 2018 from Flos, left
Delaktig, above, will be in Ikea stores early next year; Mr Knock units, below, start at £195 (channels design.com)