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Title: Furniture design for a flexible use of dwellings
Authors: Gomes, R.
Branco Pedro, J.
Almendra, R.
Keywords: Domestic Furniture;Design;Dwelling;Flexibility
Issue Date: Jun-2015
Publisher: Faculdade de Arquitetura
Abstract: The dwellings in old city centres are usually smaller than those found in new residential areas. The usual approach to make old dwellings meet current space standards is to change their spatial configuration. These changes demand building works that are expensive and not always technically feasible. Instead, we propose to increase the efficiency of domestic space use through furniture that allows multiple (e.g., cooking, dining and living at the same time) or successive (e.g., living during the day and sleeping during the night) uses of domestic spaces. This option is cheap and fully reversible, being therefore more sustainable. The paper presents a survey of furniture used to ensure the flexible use of dwellings. It focus on furniture used for sleeping, dining and living. Three research questions are addressed: What conceptual approaches can be used to design furniture that enables a flexible use of space? Which operational strategies are more frequently used to design these pieces of furniture? Are these pieces of furniture mass produced or prototypes? The following tasks were carried out: i) set the selection criteria, ii) make an object data sheet, iii) gather and classify data, and iv) analyse results. The criteria to build the sample of furniture was the variety of type of objects (e.g., bed, table, cabinet, sofa), the diversity of strategies used to ensure flexibility (e.g., swivel, telescopic, assemble) and the innovation or relevance in furniture design evolution. For the analysis, each piece of furniture was classified in a table according to the object type, the dwelling function and the strategy to ensure flexibility. The classifications obtained for all items in the sample were summed up to draw conclusions. The results are that the pieces of furniture more frequently used to ensure flexibility are room dividers for sleeping privacy, expandable/collapsible dining tables for dining, and container expanding systems for living. Multifunctional objects that maximize the use of space were found for the three functions. The strategies that are applied more frequently to promote furniture flexibility are hinging, telescopic and assembling. These strategies are applied in pieces of furniture that have robust structures and are made of long lasting materials. In contrast, the least used strategies are inflating, rolling and compressing. These strategies are applied in pieces of furniture made of soft materials and associated with objects of short term use. Finally, most used strategies are applied to mass produced objects. In contrast, less frequent strategies are applied on prototypes that serve conceptual or artistic purposes. The main conclusion drawn from the study was that there are many past and present solutions of furniture that ensure a flexible use of the dwelling. The results shed light over a subject that is not common in mainstream furniture design. The strategies organized and illustrated in the paper, provide inspiration for more sustainable furniture designs.
Appears in Collections:DED/NUT - Comunicações a congressos e artigos de revista

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