As we live in smaller and smaller spaces, it gets harder and harder to get a little privacy, especially if you want to go watch a video. In Japan, where apartments are really small and privacy hard to find, the problem is even worse. But now there is an answer: The Solo Theater, from Tokyo design Lucy Alter Design (no relation to the author).
It is a special cardboard box with a lid that can accommodate a smart phone or a tablet. You lie down on your back and look up at your screen, in "an environment of darkness and solitude." Creative Director Satoshi Aoyagi explains the problem in the Japan Times:
Japanese homes have less space compared to those in other countries. People want to have their own space. I’m married, and rather than have my wife being conscious of me all the time while she’s watching TV, being able to enjoy a movie in one’s own space is something that I think fits the Japanese way of life.People have lots of things nowadays, and I think more and more people would like to make more quality time for themselves. One way they can do that is by watching movies in an environment that enriches the experience. This is a good match for that.
They have over 300 orders for the box, which retails for ¥3,600, about thirty US bucks. The Economist notes that it is part of a larger cultural trend in Japan:
Cultural forces are powerful too, notes Masahiro Abe, a sociologist at Konan University. Japanese must don a public mask for their hierarchy-bound, open-plan offices, and a second face for their families. Turning to small, private boxes at home is their way of searching for a “third space”, he says.
I am not certain that putting one's head in a cardboard box is really that third space, but I suspect that in a few years we will all be living with VR headsets on, which will probably do a better job of it.