Chasing the dream comes at a cost in New York City. Sarah, an aspiring artist, lives in a studio apartment of 450 square feet—with three roommates. She wants to move to a larger apartment so she has room to paint; however, space comes at a premium that she can’t afford on her waitressing tips. She can’t afford to live in NYC and chase her dream. And yet, NYC is the best place for artists to make it big enough to be able to support themselves while pursuing their dreams.
Big Cities, Small Spaces
This catch-22 scenario is sadly common, especially in the Big Apple. New York City isn’t getting any larger, yet it continues to draw young, doe-eyed dreamers all looking for their big break. What they don’t anticipate is that their big break ends up being their budget, even if they settle for an apartment so tiny they can touch the opposing walls with outstretched hands.
Kent Larson spoke about this on his TED talk, “Brilliant Designs to Fit More People in Every City“. In this video, Larson denotes how important it is to consider the centralization of cities with this startling estimation: 300-400 million people will move to cities in China alone in the next 15 years. Building enough structures for that many people is equivalent to building enough to house the entire population of the United States.
Usually, the method of dealing with this issue has been to cram as many individuals into these spaces as possible—in other words, making people change to subdue the problem. Consequently, privacy is a rare commodity, tensions run high and lines get drawn.
All of which is unnecessary.
What if, instead of changing people, we altered the way we view problems? What if, when faced with a problem, we didn’t bend over backwards to “make it work”? Thinking up a creative solution that addresses the problem at its core will not only solve that particular frustrating instance, but it will typically solve other situations with the same underlying problem. Every problem is a chance for progress.
Inventive Furniture for Your Tiny Living Area
This is what Resource Furniture, an exclusive Northwestern distributor of Clei, realized and capitalized on in regards to the small space problem. They saw an issue and looked at it from a new perspective. Manhattan is an island. More space isn’t going to magically appear, so simply stuffing people into it isn’t going to work. A person can only fit so many fireflies in their hand until the insects are crushed. What else takes up space in an apartment? Well, furniture. Then Clei posed the “what if” question: What if, instead of taking space, furniture maximized space?
Clei wall-bed systems, when folded up against the wall, take up about twelve to thirteen inches. These same systems can revolve and become bookshelves with a fold-out, generous workstation. The dinner table closes down into a seat with the ease and flexibility of a circus contortionist. They have named their kitchen “Stealth Kitchen” because of the unique way every single cabinet is closed so that overall they look like a patterned wall, but can open up to reveal the sink, the dishwasher, ample counter space and expansive cabinets.
Create New Space With Robotic Walls
Another method that turns the issue of small spaces even farther onto its head is one of the programs that Larson spoke of in his TED Talk. This program captures what peoples’ needs and desires are for their apartment and matches it to an algorithm. This algorithm builds a digital version of integrated structures, like cabinets or furniture, and people can choose from various concepts that the program generates. What makes this technology truly ground breaking, however, is the fact that robotic walls can be implemented. This concept means that one space, for example the dining room, can be completely transformed into an exercise room, a dance studio or a bedroom. This approach literally multiplies space. It is also aware of human activity, so that if a baby is in the path of a robotic wall, it senses the child and stops immediately.
Save Space in Your Wallet
These solutions, as we’ve said above, not only solve the small space problem for the people who live there, but also for those who are trying to sell these locations. Real estate agents can now talk about space-saving furniture as a marketing ploy and gain more sales when showing off a property with little square footage. If the technology that Larson spoke of is put into practice, the apartment will be a goldmine for those who can’t afford much square footage. It will be easier for people to afford the mortgage payments, which in turn means fewer foreclosures for banks.
This fresh outlook on difficulties will prompt us to not only to better our lives, but also the lives of those around us. Whether we’re talking about creating space out of thin air, robotic walls to restructure homes or revolutionizing the mortgage closing process, we believe in transforming our problems into opportunities.
Forcing ourselves to suffer through problems is not how we need to look at things. So, the glass is half empty? The lemonade was stale anyway. Let’s empty it, dry it out and use it to put all our fireflies in.
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