by John JervisOct 02, 2020
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) recently made its debut into furniture design with the Voxel Sofa, which expresses through its modular, grid like system, the concept of a building block - a design process observed in BIG’s architectural language. Developed and sold with partner, the Danish furniture company Common Seating, the Voxel draws its concept from its own name – a ‘voxel’ is a three-dimensional pixel. The modular couch encourages one to have fun with it – one can ‘move, flip, add, repair or remove’ its components, and arrange it in multiple configurations, from a single unit to large settings.
The units resemble colourful LEGOS, much like BIG’s architectural works inspired by the sandbox video game Minecraft (Bjarke Ingels has shared earlier how much he loves the game!). The sofa’s damaged pieces can be easily and sustainably repaired or swapped - "Instead of throwing your couch out for no particular reason, you can simply add (or remove) a new armrest/backrest or leg," explain the makers.
The Voxel Sofa’s creative design addresses our need to keep evolving. It is meant to adapt to people as their lives progress and change rapidly. In a sustainable process, Voxel users can minimise their impact on the environment by exchanging the furniture’s components, instead of chucking it out entirely and adding on to massive wastelands. Its four main parts - armrests, backrests, seats and legs - can be exchanged whenever they are damaged beyond repair, and can also be assembled in countless ways. In an official statement, Common Seating states that its production process ensures that only what is needed is made and shipped. “Voxel is made on demand and shipped directly from the workshop - this is the only way we ensure nothing is made without a home to go to."
The modular seating comes in subdued tones of grey, blue, green, yellow and red. Its playful aesthetic sees a pixelated pattern and can be used as a sofa, a footrest, a stool, a chair, or use its modules as a cushion. The Voxel, thus, is unique to each user and space.
Jakob Lange, partner at BIG describes the Voxel’s inspiration saying, "We looked at the architectural principle of the building block while referencing elements from our buildings, such as LEGO House, 79&Park and Serpentine Pavilion – and taking inspiration from sources as diverse as Minecraft, Q*Bert and Mies van der Rohe." He further adds, “the flexible nature of the pixelated system means that the sofa can easily adapt to any space and to the needs of the person!”
With the Voxel Sofa, BIG forays triumphantly into industrial design, after the Friday Smart Lock, which can automatically unlock a door, lock it and allow the users to operate it remotely. Lange goes on to say, “The Voxel Sofa is deep and comfortable, with a quite structured appearance and flexible characteristic. If it were a person, the Pixel Sofa would be able to move, flex and adapt to different configurations, making it agile in any environment – at home or at work – and responsive to any individual. We like the idea that a person can really grow and live with this Sofa, and make it an integral part of their living ecosystem.”