The future of furniture is approaching fast as designer Carl de Smet from Noumenon plans on manufacturing a foam chair which can be compressed to five percent of its original size. This initiative works with polyurethane shape-memory polymers (SMPs) to compress chairs and other pieces of furniture into flat slabs that can be easily stowed and moved until they are ready to be used.
The polymers are the key chemical compound in the manufacturing of the fixtures. Smet makes these pieces (in this case a chair) in its original form. Through applying heat, the polymer bonds loosen, enabling the chair to be compressed to one twentieth its former size.
That means the product can be packaged in a flat box. When taken home and the owner unboxes the chair, heat needs to be applied via an electrical charge which will return it to its set and solid shape.
Initially discovered in 1969 by Gaetano Pesce, it was found that you could vacuum-seal polyurethane foam in order to fit furniture into flat boxes. The compound currently expands at 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit) but the company is working on reducing this to approximately 35 degrees Celsius (95 Farenheit) with Smet’s chair.
Smet hopes to make his products affordable and accessible so that they will be successfully adopted in the future.