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No space? No problem. IKEA partners with robot furniture startup to transform tiny homes

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

IKEA

Ori founder and chief Hasier Larrea and Seana Strawn, product developer for new innovations at IKEA in Sweden. Source: IKEA.

Swedish furniture giant IKEA is teaming up with US startup Ori to create a robotic furniture product to make the most of tiny living spaces.

Founded in Boston in 2015, Ori is dedicated to “living large on a small footprint”, founder and chief Hasier Larrea said in a statement.

With cities becoming more and more populated and real estate prices skyrocketing, the startup has created the most millennial of solutions to being stuck in a shoebox apartment.

Ori’s collection includes a ‘pocket closet’, an expanding wardrobe that can be tucked away at the push of a button, and the soon-to-be-released cloud bed, which robotically rises to integrate seamlessly into the ceiling, revealing a lounge setup beneath.

With IKEA, the startup will be developing the ROGNAN solution, which is more on par with its own Studio Suite product.

Controlled by a touchpad, the setup enables a bedroom to transform into a living and working space, with the bed sliding away under the main unit and sofa.

The partnership with IKEA is intended to address mass urbanisation and the phenomenon of shrinking living spaces.

“This mass urbanisation is accelerating and creates heavily populated cities that are at the same time consuming both land and resources at an unsustainable pace,” IKEA said in a statement.

In the statement, IKEA said the smart space solution could offer homeowners an extra eight square metres of living space.

Seana Strawn, product developer for new innovations at IKEA in Sweden added that one of the biggest challenges in homes is “storage and finding the place to do all the activities that you’d want to do in your home”.

“This is especially the case in big cities where people have to make compromises in the functions of their homes. We wanted to change that,” she added.

“Instead of making the furniture smaller, we transform the furniture to the function that you need at that time. When you sleep, you do not need your sofa. When you use your wardrobe, you do not need your bed.”

The robotic furniture is intended as a futuristic solution allowing for the best of both worlds: ample storage and space to move around.

“We share IKEA’s passion to enable people to make the most of their living spaces, and look forward to helping realise this as we continue to develop living spaces for the next generation,” Larrea said in a statement.

The ROGNAN product is expected to launch first in Hong Kong and Japan in 2020.

Although IKEA is known for its budget furniture options, it’s unclear how much a ROGNAN suite will set tiny-home dwellers back. The statement says pricing will be determined by the needs of the consumer, home visits and the retail markets in Hong Kong and Japan.

Don’t expect it to come as cheap as your classic MALM bedroom suite, though. Ori’s own Studio Suite Slim product currently starts at $US16,990 ($24,370).

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].

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