You might not guess just by looking, but, in the image above, there are two apartments, two sets of dining room furniture, six stools and a bed. Through a variety of gyrations, these objects unfold, change, and otherwise transform, creating functional furniture from previously unrecognizable, compacted boxes, cubes and other geometrical shapes -- like puzzles you get to sit on.
So, what's the green angle here? By clearing themselves out of the way, each object not only makes living in smaller spaces possible, but even alluring, and fun. Plus, in many cases, these pieces have dual functions in both their compact and unboxed forms, and, for TreeHuggers, two functions is better than one. Read on to get the full scoop on seven transforming objects that offer more than meets the eye.
Casulo: An Entire Apartment's Furniture in One Small Box
It might not look like it, but inside this box, there's an armoire, a desk, a height-adjustable stool, two more stools, a six-shelf bookcase, and a bed with a mattress. Casulo, the brilliant, modular setup designed by Marcel Krings & Sebastian Mühlhäuser, hides furnishings enough for an entire room -- or, heck, an entire apartment -- in a small 31"x47" (that's 80 cm x 120 cm) box. Two people can lift, carry, and assemble (and then disassemble, when it's time to move) each piece of furniture within the Casulo in about 10 minutes -- it requires no tools for assembly -- and every part of the boxy exterior is used, negating any need for extraneous, wasteful packaging. Smart.
See more: Casulo: An Entire Apartment's Furniture in One Small Box
Kenchikukagu: Apartment Folds Out of a Box (Well, 3 Boxes)
"Kenchikukagu" is hard to say, but easy to appreciate: your entire apartment folds out of just three boxes -- how cool is that? In the same vein as Casulo, above, but trading a little more utility and function for a little more space, who would guess that you could unfold a sleek apartment from these three boxes on wheels? This suave utility doesn't come cheap, unfortunately -- Amazon will sell you one for about 800,000 yen (that's $7,600) -- but the idea is still great. See it in action in the video below.
See more: Kenchikukagu: Apartment Folds Out of a Box (Well, 3 Boxes)
Matroshka Compact Living Concept: Your Life in 43 Square Feet
Like its namesake, there's more to the Matroshka compact living system than meets the eye. Meaning "grandmother" in Russian (it's also the term used to describe those fun dolls that fit into each other), the system contains an L-shaped sofa, double bed, dinner table, four stools, total seating for 12, home office workspace, wardrobe and a bunch of storage. Matroshka is really a compact living space's dream come true; in its most compact form, it takes up just about 43 square feet (4 square meters).
See more: Matroshka Compact Living Concept: Your Life in 43 Square Feet
Cube Style's Dining Table in a Cube
Would you guess that Cube Style is hiding a dining table in there? Maybe not, but from necessity comes invention. Anyone who's ever lived in Japan knows that the small spaces require compact living, and at least one furniture designer is obliging with a smart piece that creates a compact dining area from a humble cube. Sadly, it's only available in Japan for now, but that just means we'll have to admire it from afar.
See more: ::Cube Style's Dining Table in a Cube
Cube 6: Modern Dining Room Furniture for Small Spaces
What's hiding in this cube? Anyone got six extra seats from the cube slightly larger than one cubic foot? Clever space efficiency is the idea behind Japanese designer Naho Matsuno's Cube 6, an ingenious construction that fits six stools into a diminutive cube just bigger than a foot (35 cm) each way. Dinner party time? Bring out the cube! Party's over? Put the cube away, or use it as an impromptu bench or for storage -- no need for a whole dining room to store a full set of full-size chairs.
See more: ::Cube 6: Modern Dining Room Furniture for Small Spaces
Transformers: Private Dining by James Plant
Sticking with the dining theme (but going flat, unlike the boxy designs above), James Plant Designs does for the dining room what Murphy beds do for the bedroom: the designer has created "a complete dining room experience in just 17 cm (6.69 inches) depth." The svelte container takes up almost no space, up against a wall, when not in use; once dinner time arrives, it pops into action. Would you guess there's a whole dining area hiding in there?
See more: ::Transformers: Private Dining by James Plant
BEDUP: The Space-Saving Bed that Falls From the Ceiling
The Murphy bed might be the original "now you see it, now you don't" transformer design, and the clever BEDUP takes it a different direction, literally: when not in use, it hides in the ceiling. Why is this worth mentioning? Most Murphy beds require a clear area to fold down into, which either requires a daily ritual of furniture-moving, or sacrificing otherwise useful space for the bed's footprint. With this sly hiding bed, you can keep your stuff -- home office, living room furniture, whatever -- where it is, and just slide the bed down on top; no more floor-clearing required. It's even possible to integrate lighting into the bottom of the bed, for use when it's in storage mode; watch this movie to see it in action. See more: BEDUP: The Space-Saving Bed that Falls From the Ceiling
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