Yves Béhar & MIT Designed a Shapeshifting Apartment in a Box

updated Apr 30, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

As apartments get smaller, traditional furniture becomes less likely to fit in—literally. As cities trend toward micro apartments in the realm of 300 square feet or under, multifunctional pieces are not just nice, but necessary to create a functional space in such a small footprint. Luckily, the geniuses at MIT Media Lab and Yves Béhar teamed up to create Ori Systems, a freestanding unit that’s essentially an entire apartment in a box.

Ori Systems is robotic furniture that converts to a bed, office, storage, and living room with a simple voice command, via an app, or the touch of a button. The system was debuted last year, and is now available for developer pre-orders in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston, as well as other U.S. and Canadian cities. The unit—which gets its name from the Japanese art of origami—comes in two sizes: Ori Full and Ori Queen, and both use less power than a hairdryer and don’t need any special wiring.

Micro apartments have been the trend, mostly in overcrowded coastal cities looking to pack in more recent grads who come to town to work and are without a lot of literal baggage (though, they’ve been creeping into the Midwest in the past few years, as well). Most of the units produced have some sort of custom built-in furniture out of necessity and design, whether it’s a Murphy bed, a dining table that folds away, or a kitchen that’s hidden when not in use. Though it’s not particularly standardized—it depends on what the individual building developer and team of architects choose to design and include.

What Ori Systems has done is to essentially streamline the design and building of micro apartments by offering an all in one, “apartment in a box” as an option for developers—and eventually, individuals. While the Ori units currently start at a whopping $10,000, one can hope that the economies of scale and the lower cost of labor and design as compared to a unit with custom built-ins will bring the price of micro apartments down overall.

But even if that doesn’t happen, it’d still be pretty cool to tell Alexa to make your bed disappear.