The concept

The Mubrix is a design concept for robotic furniture that would be able to move and modify itself in your house based on your available space, mood, activities or everyday needs. It would consist of modular blocks that come in different sizes, shapes, textures and colors.

The background

How many times per year do you move your furniture around? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just click on a simple app to reorganize your living spaces? One of the designers I worked with, Adolfo Esquivel, suggested taking a new look at furniture for the 21st century, and together we started exploring ways to reinvent how interior living could evolve with the use of modular furniture, robotics, online apps and other new consumer technology.

How it works

Basically, imagine a sofa equipped with small electric rubber wheels. This sofa could draw its energy from a wireless electricity source located in your living room (e.g., Witricity) or recharge itself with the sun. Now imagine that you want to move that sofa; you could simply address it (like you address ‘Alexa’ from Amazon or ‘Siri’ from Apple) and ask it to move on its own. You could also push it gently and it would respond to your sensory input.

If we can achieve this with one sofa, we can also achieve it with hundreds of other pieces of furniture—chairs, tables, beds, carpets, night tables, lamps, etc. The size of the wheels or micro bearings would vary. The furniture could also be made to grow or shrink based on how many people you are hosting for dinner or how high you prefer your office desk to be.

The Mubrix app could also let you change a whole room’s layout simply by touching a button. It could be made to change silently at night so that when you wake up your kitchen is ready for breakfast. Of course, you could change it remotely and also share set-ups with friends and family.

Of course, modularity is key. I think that the electric modules should be made available to all furniture manufacturers so that each of them could easily incorporate Mubrix technology into their design. Some people might be interested only in buying a few pieces (like a lamp that can move closer when you are reading). Others will want the full Mubrix experience.

What’s the added value?

Well, first, I think that if you can move or convert your furniture easily and even hack into some settings (experienced users), it will be possible to reduce the number of rooms in a house or even reduce the size of each house. (Think about Japan where space is really limited.) It should prove useful for older people or physically challenged people. The possibilities are endless. I’m getting new ideas just typing this article…

The Designer

I would like to thank Adolfo Esquivel for creating the renderings of the Mubrix and for providing the initial idea that got us started with this whole concept. Adolfo is a Colombian industrial designer, currently attending a master’s in transportation design program at the UQAM of Montreal. He works as a freelance industrial designer based in Montreal. Adolfo also created the design of the Nauki captain-less sailboat and the Metropolis police drone equipped with a Tron-like emphatic avatar.