Pack It In, Pack It Out: Mobile Crate Spaces By Studio Makkink & Bey

Photos: Studio Makkink & Bey

Like the shipping pallet, there's disguised potential in the shipping crate. Undaunted by humble appearances, Dutch designers Studio Makkink & Bey explore the possibilities of "less is more" in their playful Crate Series, where crates are a flashpoint of inspiration. Transformed from mere temporary storage, the crates retain mobility in their new life as multifunctional domestic containers packed with appliances, furnishings and other intriguing surprises (like tea service and cleaning capabilities).

The experiment was inspired by a trip to India, where Rianne Makkink noticed locals using crates hyper-efficiently as mobile shops and workspaces in the streets and noisy markets. Running further with the concept and updating it for a more comfortable feel, the Crates are categorized by their specific function, such as bathing, sleeping or cleaning.

Informal barbershop, India (Photo: Hyougushi via Flickr / Creative Commons)

According to London's Spring Projects Gallery where the Crate Series is being exhibited, it's all about taking your home with you:

In its original guise as freight packaging, the crate protects its contents, but as furniture it also becomes a means of personal autonomy. These wooden retreats can be used to seclude oneself from the outside world, but when unfolded they can become furnishings inside an already furnished room.

Whilst travelling, they form familiar spaces within unknown spaces. The various models encompass a specific function, concentrated inside the crate and in the material finish.


The so-called Bed Crate above can be folded to provide a headboard and privacy.

Below, the Bath Crate works in a similar fashion, where walls can be closed off to form a convenient sauna.

The Sink or Vanity Crate allows for portable hygiene, whether you're on the move or living in a bigger, open-concept space.

Though it's a little on the conceptual side like their other works, Studio Makkink & Bey's Crate Series stands in contrast to some of the more hi-tech transformer spaces that mechanically morph from one function to another. Nevertheless, we like the suggestion of lo-tech adhocism of the Crate Series, with plenty of imaginative room for DIY flights of fancy.

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Tags: Designers | Less Is More | Netherlands

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