Furniture to fit lives spent on screen
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