Emerging "Invisible Design"

Emerging "Invisible Design"

Dabney Frake
Sep 19, 2012

Everyone who's ever tried to camouflage a large flat screen television certainly knows the dilemma. How do you make something that's both ugly and necessary disappear, but remain useful, on a daily basis?

We've seen some solutions to the TV problem over the years. Mostly they involve visual styling tricks that distract us, or minimizing an eyesore's presence in the room — mostly by adding other things. I'm talking about gallery walls, crammed bookcases or, if you're on HGTV, a custom wall cabinet that hides the offending object when not in use. Television? What television?

But what if that television could completely vanish?

This week's New York Times profiles the concept of Invisible Design. Proponents of the philosophy embrace seamless environments that easily flow without physical, or visual, interruption. These design professionals and companies search for clever, often technology-driven, ways to eliminate protrusions and bulky sight lines. This leads to solutions like flush-mounted electrical outlets, like the one above by Trufig, and drawers that open by touch versus a handle.

We've seen some early iterations out in the world. Anyone who's watched MTV Cribs, for example, knows all about televisions that emerge magically from the footboard of the master bed. Buttons are also less likely to be found on the front of dishwashers these days. These few examples, however, seem ham-handed and/or small fry when compared to more recent projects, like an architect-designed bed that raises from the floor to reveal a hidden bathtub, and stores in the ceiling. Or glass shower walls that fold up when not in use. To continue our example of the television, the one above by Seura becomes a mirror when it's not on.

You can see the potential. The ugly factor aside, it's ultimately about making the home more livable. For a harried parent, there are less nooks and crannies to clean, or cords to trip over. For a city dweller, it means maximizing precious space in a small apartment.

What do you think? Does this philosophy hold particular appeal? Can you see it in your household, or is it too Jetsons or unrealistic for everyday homes?

More from The New York Times

(Images: 1. Lonny; 2. The New York Times; and 3. Media Design Associates)

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