Shape-shifting “apartment in a box” by MIT and Yves Béhar hits stores next year


It’s not often that interior design elements stem from MIT projects, but that’s exactly the case for the newly introduced Ori, the shapeshifting ‘apartment in a box’ that takes its name from the Japanese art of paper folding (yep, origami). The MIT Media Lab originally created the concept several years ago for a piece of space-saving transforming furniture that is, essentially, a whole apartment’s worth of amenities in one compact package. Ori spun off into its own company and tapped Yves Béhar offuseproject to design the system, and you can buy your own as soon as next year.

Particularly useful in very small spaces, Ori is comprised of oh-so-many moving parts. In a unit roughly the footprint of a twin-size bed, Ori contains a sleeping surface, closet, drawers, workstation, and lots of additional storage. After the prototype was created in 2014, the Ori team set about field testing the unit by installing a few in Boston apartments and then renting them out via Airbnb. About 30 guests were able to test out the Ori unit, play with its controls and features, and report back about what they loved and what they didn’t.

The study helped inform the final commercial design for Ori, which will go into mass production this year and most likely hit the market in 2017. (A queen bed model of the transforming unit will also be available.) Some of the functionality has been tweaked for universal appeal. For instance, the originalrobotic prototype could be controlled with the wave of a hand or a simple voice command, not unlike what we see in science fiction movies. The final product excludes that feature and will instead be controlled from a button panel located on one side of the unit. However, the makers recognize that some users are more advanced than others, so each unit will have smartphone capabilities that allow development of custom apps in the future.

The team called on San Francisco-based designer to create a more aesthetic appeal for the robotic fixture. Béhar said in a statement that the Ori unit will be available in a variety of customized finishes, materials, and colors, and will make “studio city living a practical, comfortable, and beautiful experience.”


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