When we talk about sustainability, we tend to focus on materials. But if an object’s design means enhanced portability, streamlined living, and reduced waste and shipping, doesn’t it score eco-friendly points, too? After looking at the spacesaving, über-modular flatpak phenomenon, we say yes. 

Mobile living furniture

If you’ve ever helped a friend move, you know that “stuff” is the enemy. German design team Marcel Krings and Sebastian Mühlhäuser of Casula have devised the ultimate solution: a complete apartment’s worth of furniture—armoire, desk, chair, two stools, bookcase and bed with mattress — in one 31-by-47-inch box. No cardboard or bubble wrap required. Though it’s still in prototype, a clip of the box being unpacked has become a hit on YouTube. mein-casulo.de

Real good chair

As thin as an origami bird, yet with a heart of powder-coated steel, Blu Dot’s spindle-legged but sturdy chair with laser-cut “wings” ships completely flat—to be easily unfolded on receipt. It comes in aqua, red, ivory, and black. $129.

Coffee table to go

At first glance, Tiny Living’s double-jointed California birch Case Coffee Table does not reveal its dual identity. But discreet, spring-loaded locking devices allow it to fold up into itself and serve as a carrying case that can handle loads of up to 100 pounds. $179.

Trunk station

In the late 1970s, Japanese architects introduced the capsule hotel, with tiny pod-like spaces for businessmen to sleep (or sober up) in. Applying a similar space-saving concept to the work station, the Japanese firm Caina replaces the oft-reviled cubicle with a natty, classic trunk, made of maple with a melamine laminate, that harbors a fold-down desk, shelving units and storage. When your freelance day is done, just fold it up, roll it out of sight and mix up a well-deserved cocktail. About $1,900, caina.jp

Kada Flatpack stool and table

Stool and Table Is it a seat? A table? A tray? A sculpture? A container for all your cables and power cords? The answer is all of the above. This Yves Béhar multifunctional stool/table, made of wood with a neoprene and metal top, is rumored to be part of a larger system being conceived by West Coast design deity Béhar. $800.

Story by Heather Wagner. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008