Here's a fresh and fascinating video from Kirsten Dirksen and the gang over at faircompanies that nicely complements my post yesterday on architect/furniture designer Jen Turner's The NewYorker, a simple, space-saving wooden box on a base that doubles as both a secretary desk and a functional bar.
The video takes us inside of elementary school teacher Eric Schneider's once-unexceptional 450-square-foot studio apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side that, thanks to the handiwork of architects Michael Chen and Kari Anderson at Normal Projects, has been transformed into the Unfolding Apartment, or, as faircompanies dubs it "The Origami Apartment."
For the project, Chen and Anderson custom-built what can only be described as a giant, blue morphing cabinet that allows Schneider to comfortably cram a whole lot of stuff into a small footprint while creating what Chen calls "different areas of overlap" including a sleeping area, entertaining space, workspace, living room and guest quarters. The multitasking unit, which isn't quite a piece of furniture but also isn't quite a work of architecture, contains everything — bed, walls, tables, storage/closets — needed for at least four rooms. The Unfolding Apartment has gotten a fair amount of press in the past — The New York Times, Dwell, etc. — but this is perhaps the most intimate look inside of it yet.
Says Chen towards the end of the video:
... so in order to make a space work for people in New York, I think that things have to be double duty. It's really an idea about how do you get more out of something smaller without having to make big sacrifices in terms of the way that your lifestyle is. In addition to not sacrificing, you'd hope that something like this enhances someone's life ... that it doesn't just make something that is less better. More is more.
Brilliant stuff that really deserves a look no matter how many square feet you're dealing with and in what city. And by the way, Schneider spent $70,000 on the 2007 project which also included a bathroom and kitchen remodel along with new appliances, cabinets, etc. The cabinet itself looks relatively easy to work into its different configurations, but I have to wonder if there are times, after particular long days at work, when Schneider is just too beat to transform his entertaining area into his bedroom and decides to sleep on the couch ... which, not surprisingly, doubles as a bed when the cushions are removed.

Screenshot: faircompanies

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A tour of Manhattan's 'Unfolding Apartment'
Filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen tours the 'Unfolding Apartment,' a 450-square-foot studio in NYC with an oversized transformative cabinet that adds density and versat