Clever living rooms – designs for life

In the run up to tomorrow’s announcement of the winners in the Royal College of Art’s iQ competition, we are looking a little more in depth at the designers for the living room.

The four category winners and one overall winner are set to be crowned on January 15, and the design entries to reflect intelligent urban living in the bedroom, garage, kitchen and living room have produced some real flashes of inspiration.

Textile design student Kyu-Seon Lee’s Bookkeeping Cushion solves the problem of where to keep your receipts safe when you are lounging on the sofa and don’t want the hassle of getting up to leaf through files.

“I am self-employed and I might have 300-400 receipts in a year,” he said.

“That’s what people stress about.”

Kyu-Seon researched the way people’s short-term and long-term memory works before trying to inject a bit of playfulness into his design.

“I want to produce products which can suggest fun in the way they communicate with the customer,” he added.

Yuko Kanemura, a Printed Textiles alumnus, is another nominee who brought an Eastern design aesthetic to her entry.

Thermo Con is a system of textiles, produced from recycled materials, which can be built up to any size and used on walls or as flooring.

Water is able to run through the centre of each thermally efficient tile, allowing for additional heating properties.

Yuko said: “Concrete absorbs water and heat and in cities the temperature goes up because concrete traps the heat in.

“So I was wondering how to use concrete so it becomes a heating device.”

Yuko, who says her native Japan was forced to confront questions of efficiency by its 1990s recession, believes the simplicity of her approach is key.

“You don’t need energy to produce this material,” she added.

“It’s keeping it simple to produce something effective, and that’s something designers need to consider in the future.”

And a passion to help people in the obstacles to their everyday lives is what drives Industrial Design Engineering alumnus Yusuf Muhammad.

His Yu Type concept uses a small keyboard-mounted screen which allows slow ‘hunt and peck’ typers to concentrate on what their fingers are doing without losing track of what they are actually producing on the screen.

“I like the idea of solving a problem for someone else – it gives me a more creative outlet and having a positive impact on people.

“There’s such a wide spectrum of people with a wide range of abilities.

“People intuitively hunt and peck – I want to give people other options and another way to use the keyboard.”

And the ideas Yusuf has for developing his concept further include adding a spellchecker and other ways to input, such as voice activation.

“I think designers have a lot of power to change things,” he added.

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