Sometimes you want to sit up. Sometimes you want to lie down. Sometimes you need a place to put your computer, or perhaps a drink. A single piece of furniture rarely fulfills all these desires. This shapeshifting sofa can reconfigure itself into a seat, a couch, a bed, or even an end table, all with a few flicks of your iPad.
The Lift-bit, designed by Carlo Ratti for furniture company Vitra, is calling itself the first “digitally transformable sofa.” But it’s really just a single, upholstered hexagonal stool mounted on motorized actuators that can be raised or lowered in a few seconds via an app. Once you clump a few of these together and start adjusting their heights in relation to each other, you can start to see the possibilities.
Of course, your La-Z-Boy or Ikea futon already allows you to gracefully transition from sitting to snoozing, but that often requires a lever and/or some kind of awkward contortions. And then it’s still essentially only a bed or chair. I love the idea of a completely customizable piece of furniture in my living room that can serve as a lovely cocktail-ready table for parties, then turn into an anti-social binge-watching nest after the guests are gone. I could definitely see something like this in a restaurant or hotel lobby, which need ultimate flexibility when it comes to seating depending on the time of day.
The app comes pre-loaded with some optimal suggested setups but also allows the user to get creative. In fact, you can play around with the interface to see how easily it allows you to design different configurations and control the height of each piece. There’s even a cute Easter egg: When the sofa senses that no one’s been sitting on it for a certain amount of time, it starts adjusting itself on its own. Here are some images from the big furniture show in Milan, where the Lift-bit debuted this week.