STUTTGART, Germany – A special new type of kit furniture does not need to be assembled after delivery. It can “assemble” itself.
HygroShape furniture, developed by researchers at the University of Stuttgart in Germany, comes as flat planks. Then, after eight to 12 hours, the boards will bend as they dry naturally to form simple shaped chairs and sofas.
The technology relies on the natural properties of wood to work. Researchers first cut a tree into planks, analyzing each piece to learn more about its water content and grain. With the help of software, researchers will understand and visualize exactly how a board will bend as it dries – layering it in precise configurations that allow the piece of furniture to “dry” into shape. The moisture-retaining wrap ensures the boards don’t dry out too soon.
Once shaped, the pieces lock into place.
“Kit furniture design is directly limited by transportation and manufacturing constraints,” the researchers said. “HygroShape introduces a new flat pack, in which the shaping is integrated directly into the material itself, leading to simple and effortless assembly.”
A German company called Hylo Tech is about to manufacture the first HygroShape furniture. Items are expected to hit the market this spring.
Current prototypes include a straight lounge chair and a rocking lounge chair. Both are made from quarter-sawn European maple.