IKEA's ROGNAN Robotic Furniture Turns Small Spaces Into Multi-Functional Homes

© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019

As someone who has recently lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can attest to the fact that a significant number of your fellow human beings are willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money each month in exchange for the use of a four-walled brick-and-mortar living space that could, by many Americans' standards, be mistaken for a medium-sized closet. Trying our best to live functionally in small spaces is simply part of urban living nowadays. It's pretty simple: There are lots of people, and not a lot of space — meaning that sometimes, whether due to availability or affordability, we have to squeeze our lives into teeny weeny apartments. So, how do we live functional lives and make the most of our space if we're living in an all-rooms-in-one studio, or renting a single room? Well, the future is here, folks, because IKEA is launching robotic furniture that's designed to make small spaces highly-functional and, well, a lot smarter.

With more and more people moving into impacted, urban areas and existing within tight living quarters, it's become increasingly important to streamline our furniture choices and go minimal — while still being functional. As many people who live in big cities or struggle in high-cost-of-living areas know, the stress of tiny apartment living is real.

“We have been working with developing small space living solutions for a long time, and we know that some of the biggest challenges in peoples’ homes are storage and finding the place to do all the activities that you’d want to do in your home," Seana Strawn, product developer for new innovations at IKEA of Sweden, said in a press release. "This is especially the case in big cities where people have to make compromises in the functions of their homes. We wanted to change that."

Here's how they're doing it. The Swedish furniture giant is kicking their new, smarter era with ROGNAN, a piece that was developed in collaboration with American robotic furniture start up, Ori, which focuses on functional living with a smaller footprint. ROGNAN's basic design is based on IKEA's modular PLATSA storage systems, but uses Ori's robotic platform to make it multi-functional at the touch of a button.

© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019

With an easy-to-use interface, ROGNAN seamlessly moves across a room to divide it into multiple living spaces, and can shapeshift from bed, to couch, to desk, to closet, and more, depending on what you currently need in your space — all while taking up much less room than even the sleekest of these individual necessities would require: According to IKEA's press release, ROGNAN will give users up to eight square meters (or a little over 86 square feet) of extra space. It's also compatible with IKEA's TRÅDFRI cabinet and its wardrobe smart lighting.

So many of us rely on IKEA for our basic furniture needs, but this definitely ushers in a new, more efficient, and futuristic era for the brand — and for customers.

© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019

“With ROGNAN, small space living customers will no longer have to compromise their needs, dreams or comfort in order to achieve a multi-functional living environment ... [We are] using robotics to transform the solution from bedroom to walk-in closet, to work space, to living room. An all-in-one solution activated through a simple interface touchpad,” continues Strawn. “Instead of making the furniture smaller, we transform the furniture to the function that you need at that time. When you sleep, you do not need your sofa. When you use your wardrobe, you do not need your bed[.]" It's certainly an exciting prospect, especially if you're living the classic studio apartment life, where your living room is your bedroom is your dining room is your office. Efficiency is key, and every extra foot of space makes a difference.

While the retail price of IKEA's ROGNAN has not yet been announced, the brand notes that pricing will be "based on the needs of an urban, extreme small-space living consumer; determined through home visits, data and expertise in the IKEA retail markets of Hong Kong and Japan," so we'll have to wait and see — and cross our fingers that it's relatively affordable.

ROGNAN will first launch in 2020 in Hong Kong and Japan, so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for updates on when it'll be available in your country. Welcome to the future.