Apr. 26th, 2017

dmilewski: (Default)
I continue being awed by size-adjusting furniture. You don't see much of that stuff these days, but years ago, especially before the 1950's, transforming or multi-modal or multi-purpose furniture was quite the thing.
The circumstances of people living in pre-modern sized houses meant that people in the past had quite a different relationship to space than modern America. They had all the same desires for their spaces that we have today (more or less), but far less room to realize their desires. Something had to give. Their solutions were myriad, commonplace, and wonderfully designed. Talented architects produced amazingly stylish pieces of furniture that transformed to meet several needs.

Among the most commonly known of this furniture type is the sewing machine cabinet. When in use, its a sewing machine. When not in use, the sewing machine drops into the cabinet, the extra table space folds up, and the whole thing becomes a side table containing all your sewing supplies.

Beds are a big category of multi-modal furniture. The sofa-bed of today is a wonderful example, where an entire bed folds underneath a sofa. Futons convert into bed. Trundle beds lower and raise  to hide under other beds. Cots fold up to live in the closet. Inflatable beds deflate to live in the same closet. Daybeds work as both sofas and beds. A bed that you only see in old movies is the hideaway bed, which flips up, forming a fake wall, and also forming as space to hide all your dirty clothes.

Tables, as they take up room, form some of the most amazing solutions. When you don't need table space, it sucks down your valuable space, but when you do need table space, where are you going to get it? Card tables and folding tables have various ways of folding flat. Many dining room tables expand outward or inward, allowing the owner to add or remove leaves. In extreme cases, these expansions are so extreme that an eight person dining table can convert into a side-table, while the owner hides the leaves in a closet.

With tables come chairs. Folding chairs have been common at least since the 1920's because everyone needs more chairs. I'd have to do research to figure out when such chairs became commonplace. I believe that folding chairs (of some sort or another) date back to the middle ages.

Shelves are a modern fold-up stable. Folding shelves have been on the market for several decades. Some designs have you remove the shelves, while other designs include the shelves folding.

Another featured archaic furniture of old movies is the fold-up ironing board. Once freestanding ironing boards that folded up were developed, this feature disappeared from housing. 

We still see some multi-modal furniture today, but it's mostly to hide TV's. To me, it's not truly multi-modal, it's more of a disguise.

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