Fur­ni­ture to fit lives spent on screen

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ance a lap­top on the edge. Con­fig­ured at a lesser an­gle, the arms pro­vide a head­rest for those who are more lap­top-rest­ing-on-the-thighs types (or for read­ing a book). Some may baulk at the er­gonomics – th­ese poses do not re­motely con­form to ex­pert ad­vice about how to use a lap­top or tablet with­out un­duly strain­ing your­self – but it’s now the norm.

“We We carry out a lot of o re­search into how cus­tomers are livin liv­ing, how spa­ces are chang­ing, and how peo­ple are in­ter­act­ing with things,” s says Johnathan Marsh, buy­ing di­rec­tor dire for John Lewis. “We’ “We’re re­spond­ing to macro trends such suc as ‘du­alscreen­ing’, scr when the TV is on in the back­ground but peo­ple are on their the lap­tops and phones pho as well, con­stantly con mul­ti­task­ing.” task

The T re­tailer has seen see a rise in the pop­u­lar­ity pop of side ta­bles tab that can­tilever lev over a sofa or bed, so that de­vices are im­me­di­ately to hand. “The other big trend we’re see­ing is a sofa with a wooden ta­ble at­tached, so o the tech­nol­ogy is sit­ting there ere and ready to grab so you ou don’t have to cross the room to get your lap­top,” says ys Marsh.

“Some of the de­signs com­ing through hrough com­bine the best of f soft fur­nish­ing with beau­ti­ful uti­ful wooden ac­ces­sories.” s.”

What hasn’t asn’t taken off are so­fas and chairs with built-in USB sock­ets, so you don’t need to trail a lap­top cable across a room. “We saw a big trend about five years ago where USB ca­bles were be­ing g added to ev­ery­thing, but it re­ally didn’t n’t res­onate with cus­tomers,” says Marsh. h.

That con­cept ncept seemed to flop be­cause peo­ple didn’t dn’t like the idea of plug­ging in a piece of fur­ni­ture. How­ever, ob­jects that are al­ready pow­ered (such as bed­side lamps) mps) have proved more ac­cept­able and prac­ti­cal. ROM’s Donato sofa, fa, for ex­am­ple, is an elec­tric re­cliner ecliner with an op­tion for an in­te­grated grated tim­ber side ta­ble, the Q Box, with h charge points in­side.

Bed com­pany mpany Simba has done the same thing g with its ad­justable Mo­tion Base: the mov­ing bed needs to be pow­ered any­way, so why not add USB ports? Emily mily Wynne-Jones, head of prod­uct in­no­va­tion nno­va­tion at Simba, says they al­ways ays get asked about USB ports. “As s many of us now use our phones es as alarms, there is a greater need eed to charge within close prox­im­ity,” ” she adds.

Sock­ets, , ca­bles and a pro­fu­sion of de­vices can n in­ter­fere with the un­clut­tered vis­ual al per­fec­tion de­manded by high-end in­te­rior de­sign­ers, so how do they tackle ckle the is­sue?

“In our world, if you can see a wire, then you’ve ve failed,” says Charu Gandhi of de­sign ign firm El­i­cyon. “We of­ten have floor r boxes to hold sock­ets, done very beau­ti­fully with a dis­creet metal trim and the rug set into o it, so all you see when it’s closed is a thin metal pro­file on the rug.” Th­ese can be b in­stalled be­side a sofa, so a lap­top can be plugged in right there. Be­spoke fur­ni­ture with in­te­grated power is also pop­u­lar, such as a bed­side bed ta­ble with a charg­ing char­gin point in the drawer. Lux­ury brands bran are also ex­plor­ing how to in­no­vate fur­ni­ture that com­bines crafts­man­ship cra and tech­nol­ogy. techno Lin­ley’s Ful­beck Ful­bec desk has an aero­dy­namic aero­dy­nam de­sign in English wal­nut, with wi hid­den charg­ing points and bat­tery batte cells so that the desk can be “charged” “cha via a power source. “For us, tech­nol­ogy should sho al­ways be hid­den where pos­si­ble, pos­sib and on show only when needed,” says James White of ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign stu­dio March & White. White At its lat­est project in New York, 125 Greenwich, “we ap­plied our ou ex­per­tise in de­sign­ing su­pery­achts, and in­cluded inc el­e­ments such as con­cealed pop-up tele­vi­sions, and a con­sole which adapts for use as a kitchen is­land and a lap­top bar”. Ex­pect to see more wire­less wire charg­ing in­cor­po­rated into hom home prod­ucts, as Ikea has done with it its charg­ing pads and light­ing. The te tech­nol­ogy’s progress was ham­pered be be­cause sev­eral sys­tems were com­petin com­pet­ing for dom­i­nance, so de­sign­ers and s smart­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers were re­luct re­luc­tant to com­mit to one of them. Now, Qi tech­nol­ogy has emerged as the st stan­dard, so it’s full steam ahead. The next step is conqu con­quer­ing dis­tance charg­ing over a few f feet, so your phone will power up in yo your pocket. Wi-Charge’s tech­nol­ogy us uses in­frared beamed from a box on the wall w or ceil­ing to a re­ceiver that will be em­bed­ded in the de­vice. It should be­come a re­al­ity in the next 18 mo months or so, fi­nally ban­ish­ing those su­per­flu­ous sock­ets and pesky trail­ing ca­bles.

John Lewis’s De­sign Project No142 sofa, main, from £1,649; be­low, ta­ble with USB ports by Moree, £819, Lime Lace; Varv floor lamp with wire­less charg­ing, £50, Ikea, be­low right

Calia sofa side ta­ble, £129, John Lewis, left; Lin­ley’s Ful­beck desk, above; Donato sofa, from £1,820, ROM, right

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