June 6, 2019
Several years ago, MIT Media Lab made a splash with a piece of “shape-shifting furniture”—a glowing robotic box that could transform a 200-square-foot apartment into a 600-square-foot apartment by expanding or contracting at the push of a button to reveal a bed, bathroom, and storage. Eventually the academic—known as Cityhome from January 2011 to December 2016—became a Boston-based company called Ori Living.
But for the past two years, Ori has been working on something new: The company is working on the design, production, and release of a robotic furniture line developed alongside Ikea–and at Ikea prices.
According to Fast Company, Rognan is essentially an L-shaped storage unit that moves with motors and a switch. It functions as a room divider that you can slide left or right to shape your apartment’s space to its function.
On one side, the Rognan features a full-sized bed that can roll in and out from the unit to build a bedroom when you want to sleep. On the other side, there’s a small couch for entertaining in your living room. On both sides, Ikea has integrated support for its Platsa modular storage system, which allows buyers to completely customize the unit with shelving and drawers.
Hasier Larrea, the MIT researcher who founded Ori, recently told Fast Company in an interview that, while Rognan may look similar at first glance, it is significantly different from earlier Ori units.
In the United States, Ori units have been packaged as entertainment centers for small home theaters. But for the large Asian markets where Rognan will first launch, the promise of giant TVs was less appealing than offering more practical storage and the additional seating of a built-in couch. The design teams also significantly lowered the height of the unit, as apartments in Japan and Hong Kong tend to have lower ceilings than the U.S.
Pricing is yet to be announced, and will likely vary by level of customization. Ori’s own Pocket Closet starts at $2,650, but it looks like Ikea’s offerings may be cheaper; Larrea promised the Rognan will be offered at “an Ikea price point.”
Research contact: @ori_living