The table — yes, the humble table — is the future of the home.
That’s according to Marcus Engman, IKEA’s head of design.
“Personally, I do believe that the table is going to be extremely important for the future,” Engman says. “That’s going to be the masterpiece of the home. It used to be, hundreds of years ago, that was the big piece.”
IKEA’s plans for the table are, to say the least, ambitious. For EXPO Milano 2015, the company previewed a concept table called the Table For Living, which tells you what you can make with various ingredients and heats your food, no stove required.
IKEA created the prototype with the help of the uber-hip design consultancy Ideo, which recently gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the table was brought into the world.
Here’s how it happened.
'IKEA came to Ideo to help explore behaviours around food and how that would impact designing the kitchen of 2025,' says Ideo design director Juho Parviainen. 'At the outset, the team thought about the kitchen from the perspective of designing for behaviours, not just things.' Below is a clip from the concept video.
The design team -- along with members from IKEA, Ideo, Lund University, and Eindhoven University of Technology -- wanted to create a table that would help people become more confident cooks and lead more sustainable lives.
To do that, it would serve not only as a place-setting surface, but also a cooking surface. Not only that, but the table would recognise the ingredients you put on it, and walk you through the cooking process.
The induction technology could keep your coffee hot -- and even charge your phone, which IKEA products like the Riggad Lamp already do.
'We were inspired by the idea of families sitting around the campfire, sharing stories of the day, and cooking,' Parviainen says.
'We explored several options, but computer vision provided the right levels of accuracy and resolution for us to prototype and iterate on a design for different off-screen behaviours,' says Ideo interaction designer Kalyn Nakano. This is what the computer vision software looks like.
The prototype only had three ingredients, each readily distinguishable by colour -- a red tomato, a green head of broccoli, and rice in a blue bowl.
'We thought we would try to do something similar with the Table for Living to bring cooking back to the center of the kitchen again,' Parviainen says.
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