Interiors: Interesting storage tips
WHEN it comes to storage, do you shovel your life's debris safely away behind closed cupboard doors? Or do you much prefer to let it all hang out and stand out?
These are generally the main two approaches to storage in interior design. Hide or show off.
Realistically, you probably need to do both. Because while some things in life are best kept in the closet, intense minimalism (like some of its proponents) can be intensely dull and a little bit of visible storage will always make a room more interesting on several levels.
Well-designed storage units can be attractive pieces of furniture in themselves, plus you have the added interest of your own curated selection of books and objects, which will look even better when you change the display around every once in a while.
One teeming centre of human life which is expert at storage is the creche, where thousands of bits and pieces of debris come out to play daily and are filed neatly away by evening. So perhaps designers of the latest storage systems – which are both playful and brightly coloured in the main – have drawn some inspiration from modern society's kiddie storage solution.
Orla Reynolds, an Irish furniture designer and recent DIT graduate, is currently in the final stages of putting her storage system called As if From Nowhere into production. The piece takes its name from the fact that four chairs and a table are concealed within a bookshelf.
At first glance it appears as a cubic shelving unit, predominantly white but with attractive line detail in bright colours. Then Reynolds pulls out the yellow section. It's a chair, skilfully concealed within the unit so that only the outline is visible. Like a puzzle emerging, you now realise that that the red, green, and blue details are also chairs. The purple outlines at the base of the unit pull out to form a table in two halves.
"I've always loved the idea of transformation – when something appears to be one thing but does something else,' Reynolds explains.
"It's like a scene change at the theatre. It goes from being a bookcase to a dining suite, and then back to a bookcase, and the act of taking out a chair is as simple as taking out a book."
Because the chairs are lifted down from shoulder height, Reynolds was careful that they weigh just 3kg each, which is the same as three bags of sugar, and can be removed without disrupting the storage.
Reynolds is currently negotiating a contract with an international production company with the facility to put the unit into mass production. "The price is still under negotiation," she explains, "but I hope that it will be between €2,000 and €3,000.
"I'd like to think that puts it within the price range of young people starting out to furnish their first apartment, especially as you're getting a table and four chairs as well as a shelving unit for that price." As if From Nowhere will be available in 2014 from www.orlareynolds.com.
Another innovative Irish storage solution comes from the Newry-based company Foldeaze and is based on a technology that allows for self-assembly without screws or skills. The Causeway system is modular wall-hung storage based on hexagonal units that fit together in the manner of the stone formations of the Giant's Causeway. The person assembling simply wraps the module around itself and it clicks into shape.
The hexagons cost €45 each or €300 for a set of six with an extra €20 for each door and €15 for each LED light fitted. Shelving begins at €350 for a one- metre section including backboard and LEDs. It can be hung on the wall like a picture with two brackets.
The product is a creative response to the recession from a company with a background in standard furniture-making.
"We wanted to design something that we could make ourselves and export," Sean Philips, director of Foldeaze explains. "It was difficult to sustain business designing and making traditional furniture so we have had to adapt."
The company has patented the clipping system and launched the range of storage at the Autumn Ideal Homes Show in the RDS in October.
"People's eyes lit up when they saw how simply it holds together. It folds into shape just like a child's toy," says Philips. Modular Foldeaze products are self-assembly, but the larger units, although held in place by the same technology, are installed by the company, www.foldeaze.com.
Bearing an even closer resemblance to a toy, a new storage system from Room Copenhagen has been evolved in collaboration with the Danish toymaker Lego. Shaped like the original Lego bricks, but hollow inside, the storage bricks stack on top of each other exactly as Lego does. The system includes five storage bricks with one, two, four or eight knobs in a range of classic lego colours and cost from €9.00 – €34.99 from www.roomcph.com.