A report released by the Hauptverband der Holz und Kunststoffe verarbeitenden Industrie (HDH) shows that as people’s requirements of their homes have changed, the arrangement of the rooms has undergone fundamental changes as well: there are few enclosed spaces in modern layouts any more. The clearly delimited areas of the past are merging with one another – and have broken away from their old functions. Modern individuals no longer ask themselves what belongs in their living room, but what they want to do in the space defined by that name.
The “either-or” model of old is being replaced by an emphatic “both-and” approach. Anything goes, and people are using their homes to let their multifaceted personalities run free. These days, furnishing a home means breaking down the old, traditional boundaries, putting the television in the kitchen area, turning the dining table in the live-in kitchen into a communication centre complete with plush dining chairs and putting the bathtub in the bedroom. Old furniture is being combined with new, winter barbecues are a viable proposition and, at a stretch, the hallway can be turned into a disco.
This freedom within one’s own four walls allows for a huge amount of identity and creative autonomy. New studies show that the home is evolving into the focal point of our social lives and, as a result, increasingly replacing visits to pubs or restaurants. Communication tools like smartphones, netbooks and tablet computers are of course contributing to the trend to retreat within ones own four walls as well. But without personal contacts, without visits from friends who come to share a delicious meal or watch the football match, life simply isn’t complete. And if you’re going to spend that much time at home, you want a habitat that’s good for the soul.
As a result, the way these new living spaces are furnished has changed a great deal in recent years as well. Modern furniture has to fulfil many functions. All in all, furniture is getting smaller again because it can be used for all sorts of different things. Sofas, for instance, can easily be adjusted to create bigger seating surfaces. Desks only need a small work space because the technical equipment is getting smaller, display cabinets can be narrow because the LED lighting doesn’t take up any space. Poufs that can be carried around the home are flexible seating options that fit in anywhere. Tables can be extended in next to no time when friends come for dinner, and flatscreen TVs can be made to disappear into the sideboard at the push of a button.
Photos courtesy imm Cologne Living Kitchen.