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Interior design of the future will be interactive

Lifestyle 26 February 2019 Read time: 2 minutes

We can now operate most electrical appliances from one device and monitor home security cameras remotely. Not only that, but we also have access to voice-controlled ovens and microwaves, fridges which can tell us what ingredients we are running low on… the list goes on.

It’s hard to imagine what else can be transformed and yet, in an article on The Conversation by PhD student Sara Nabil, she outlines the ways in which technology can transform interior design.

Coining the interaction between interior design and interactive design ‘interioraction’, Nabil has worked with Newcastle’s Open Lab and NORTH Lab teams to create new types of interactive living objects.

Using thermochromic fabric (a substance which changes colours as it changes temperature) wires made from shape-memory alloys, and electronic textiles, the scientists have reimagined decorative domestic objects.

One such invention, the Actueater, is a table runner that not only changes shape and colour depending on touch and physical interaction with the tableware around it, but also shape and form. You can see how that works in this video.

Nahib poses this: imagine a future where everyday interior design products can change daily, even if only in minute ways. Fluff up drab towels for a surprise visit from the in-laws, change the colours of your couch cushions… the options are seemingly endless.

These innovations don’t just have an aesthetic purpose — they offer a more sustainable solution to our current purchasing habits. Imagine using one product, which can mould and change according to your desires, instead of buying new products each time you wanted to revamp your lounge room.

Nahib has worked with architects and interior designers to create fully interactive interiors in public spaces. One example is the human-scale beehive for the Bees Exhibition last year at the Great North Museum in Newcastle. Visitors could wander around the multi-sensory hive and interact with its soft pollen and honey-sticky hexagons — embedded with touch-sensitivity and audio feedback — and learn about beehives in an entirely new way.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies (or bees) — there are ethical, social and legal challenges to this kind of technological advancement. But it’s amazing to think our interior design objects could be behaving and interacting with us in the near future.