Sit in the chair. Eat at the table. Climb in the bed. These actions define life in a house; they’re so common we never really think about them. It’s taken for granted that we will fill our homes with furniture. After all, how would we get anything done without it?
But late one night last week I received an email from Corey and Melissa. Our conversations had gotten them thinking about how they felt at odds with most houses, how the furniture seemed to restrict their movement and how they felt part of their mission was to move away from sedentary culture. Melissa in particular was interested in a nascent theory of physical well-being called Nutritious Movement. It’s a fascinating approach to being in a home that involved sitting on the floor as much as possible, using standing desks, and creating structures in the house that encouraged people to keep moving. In my research I found people altering their homes to make them more “nutritious”. People cut the legs off their tables, threw out couches, and piled boxes on counters to make them standing desks. These were home hacks in the direction of what was referred to as “a house without furniture.”
It may seem that the design of a house is independent from the furniture inside it. But so much of that design, from the sizes of the rooms and the locations of the doors, to the placement of the lighting fixtures, is designed with specific furniture in mind. What would happen, I wondered, if, instead of regular furniture, a house was designed with a modular furniture block system in mind instead? What would be a simple, flexible module that could become the base of a bed, a floor table, or a standing desk? Melissa had spoken about wanting her rooms to be open and changeable, visually defined by large open floor spaces. I developed a simple 12 x 12 x 18 box module:
With an operable top and additional table top pieces, the module can do pretty much anything most furniture does, but at many different heights and locations. When not in use, the boxes would stack along the wall as window seats.
We’re pretty excited to keep developing this as we continue the design process. The aim would be to make it simple enough that the boxes could be cut in a simple CNC router layout and more could be made as needed. The modular boxes could then be shared with other people interested in Nutritious Movement.
Next: Designing with Light…