4Q Plugged / S.O.F.A. with FeliceRossi

The true mission of Design, to my mind, is to find ways of enabling people to live in a harmonious relationship with each other and their natural and artificial environments. An important part of this involves finding the appropriate match between the opportunities offered by technology and imperatives of timeless and timebound human cultural values. Today, for example, people are searching for more effective ways to express their individuality, while, at the same time, they also want to simplify their lives. Technology is miniaturising and 'dematerialising' products and services, as complex products become smaller, and services are increasingly provided on the Web, while, at the same time, the need for certain physical objects that are anthropologically and culturally relevant - such as tables and chairs - is a s strong as ever. What would be an appropriate match here? What would it imply for the home of the near future?

For one thing, I suggest that these trends and conditions will lead to a home of the near future that looks more like the home of the past than the home of today. Why? Because today's black boxes (tv's, videos and stereos) will become incorporated into other objects hat have been part of our domestic environment for much longer - chairs, tables and beds, for instance, not to mention walls, ceilings and windows. These traditional objects have been with us since time immemorial. They have been tried and tested over the millennia, and their form refined. This is in sharp contrast to the black boxes. The functions they carry - entertainment, communication, work - have not yet achieved their definitive domestic form, which means they are free to be incorporated into other, more 'permanent' objects. When our homes are less cluttered by these black boxes, we will have more space in which to express ourselves in fulfilling ways - through art, mementoes, hobbies, socialising or just relaxing. The integrated technologies will provide almost invisible, ambient intelligence - like the trusted family butler of the past, always there, ready to help.

Q4 Plugged is a couch designed with this new home in mind. Its modular design allows its owner to create a wide variety of polyfunctional 'zones' for relaxation and socialising, ranging from a traditional-looking settee, to a chaise longue or self-contained 'work and play' area. It is fully 'wired' and can be fitted with a variety of electrical devices.

- The basic elements are four square-shaped stools (140cm x 140cm), upholstered in mattress-style. Various arm-rests, back-rests and table elements can be slotted into holes in these stools to form different configurations: for example, a traditional-style couch with back-rests along the length, arm-rests at each end and a table in the middle' a square couch with sitting options from various sides for central positioning in a room; or a square lounging 'zone', totally enclosed on all sides with arm- or back-rests, resembling an open boat.

- All elements can be linked together not only physically but also electrically. One of the stools ahs a power lead to connect the whole to a nearby mains socket. the 'buttons' in the mattress tops are actually elasticated holes, into which the various elements can be 'plugged' to position them and to make necessary electrical connections.

- The arm-rests are hollow. One unit is fitted with a music player, the control panel being 'embroidered' in the side of the arm rest. Another contains the loudspeakers. One arm-rest is intended for general storage purposes.

- Table units are supplied, one in the form of a low tray, the other a more raised table.

- Other available products include a projector (for ceiling or wall projection), a web pad (screen and charging base), and a 'table lamp' using light-emitting polymers.

Collaborating on the project: Marko Macura, Torvin Bendik, and Alex Tan.

(Excerpt from the S.O.F.A. book, by FeliceRossi).