The interior design of the future is going to look like magic
Imagine a home where your walls can change color depending on your mood or that your tablecloth will change shape if you are having a party. Imagine a house where everything, from cushions to lampshades, responds to you. It may sound like something from Harry Potter, but magic interior design is a reality that could be a part of our daily lives.
Many homes already have smart technology. Statista estimates that more than 45 million smart devices will be installed in US homes by the end of 2019. Analysts predict that the smart home device industry will reach US$ 107.4 billion by 2023 globally. One in four Brits own smart devices such as smart speakers and thermostats. The UK government is also investing money to teach elderly and disabled people about smart technology in their homes.
Our view of smart houses is more sci-fi-like than cozy. We tend to picture our future homes as being filled with clear glass walls and gadgets that anticipate every need. Alexa is the queen of this house. What if the smart home of tomorrow was more than just gadgets, wires, and flashing lights? What if we instead used technology to beautify the spaces around us?
Kitchen magic. Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock.com
I envision a future where technology will literally be woven into the fabric and design of everyday items. Interiors will also be interactive, while decorative objects won’t be static. Technology can do more than make us more productive and make life easier. It can improve the environments we live in. This blend of interior design and interactive design is called “interioraction”.
What it does
As part of my PhD research, I have been working with Newcastle University’s Open Lab team and North Lab to develop new interactive living objects for interior design. We use thermochromic fabrics that change color, SMA cables that move and crumple, and textiles to provide seamless sensing.
Instead of static objects in the home, we create decorative items that change and shift depending on their interaction. Imagine a dinner party where you could have a table runner that varies based on the physical interaction and touch with the tableware. These changes can include the color, texture, and pattern of the fabric as well as its form and shape. The table runner would move and transform among the guests, making the dining experience more memorable and special. It’s only the beginning. Soon, decorative objects could interact among themselves, with people, and with the environment.
We have created one. We tested the device with real people and found that many were curious about it. Some people began to treat it like it was alive and even petted it. Watch this Video.
These decorative items will stand out against the background in our homes. Display blindness would be eliminated, allowing us to enjoy the beauty of our home’s artwork without being distracted by it. Every day, our paintings or vases may change.
I see a future in which you could change the design of your sofa on the fly, just as you might swipe the screen on your smartphone. Or you could make your towels look a little more posh for your in-laws’ surprise visit.
Positives and Negatives
These decorative items could do more than move to delight others around us. You could have a different bedroom depending on the time of day. Go to bed in a warm, cozy room and wake up to a new space. This could be connected to the mood of your friends or the heartbeat of a long-distance lover.
Different colors have different psychological effects. Different colors have psychological effects. What teacher wouldn’t want a classroom that calmed down a group of five-year-olds?
There is a downside to this technology. We would have to rethink many ethical, legal, and social issues, namely the privacy of residents and their use of personal data. In ten years, with the new GDPR rules in place, you may be required to sign a consent form to sit on a couch.
We might need to adopt new forms of consent and safeguards for entering rooms or for using everyday items such as a hallway rug. For a better understanding of the consequences of such data usage, I have written four dystopian stories.
In the course of research, I have worked with artists, architects, and interior designers to create fully interactive interiors for public spaces, museums, and galleries – such as a human-scale beehive, which was created last year for the Bees Exhibition at the Great North Museum in Newcastle UK.
The human-sized beehive was created as a sticky, multi-sensory experience where people can explore and interact with the hexagons of honey-sticky pollen, which are embedded with seamless audio feedback and touch sensitivity. They also learn about the mysterious world inside the beehive.
It’s possible to create a new lifestyle with the latest technology and research. Harry Potter’s magic is a fantasy for many people. Many people dream about the magic of Harry Potter. Someday, this magic may be real. In true Hogwarts fashion, you will not see any wires. You’ll only feel the magic.