The TV room is changing, as is the kitchen and where we sleep, and these are things furniture maker IKEA has picked up on as it works to visualise how the future of our home spaces looks in the next ten years.
Over the next ten years, much about how we live at home is expected to shift, with rooms no longer being built for one purpose, but for many, so you can expect your time in the living room to be more about living than just the “sitting in front of the TV” as it is now for many of us.
“Soon functional, social spaces will be at the heart of every Australian home,” said Richard Wilson, Sustainability Manager at IKEA in Australia, adding that “we are already seeing an increase in social spaces in the home and Ikea is already creating furniture that is stackable, foldable, extendable so it can adapt to every social need.”
“Over the next few years there will be a rise in what we call ‘social furniture’, which will be things like multifunctional kitchen islands that allow for food prep, socialising, working, watching TV or spending time with the family,” said Wilson.
That’s the first lesson about homes in the next decade, with Ikea expecting that the kitchen will be the place where we will get much of our work and socialising done, as the online world properly connects with our home life, and island workspaces in the kitchen become digitally connected, with wireless charging offered when you lay down that phone on the table, which is something Ikea will be offering later in the year.
Beyond wireless charging, the kitchen is one such space that will be truly versatile, or is expected to be anyway, with it becoming a flexible room that can do more than just be used to make and consume food.
With the right sort of furniture, this can become a place to store toys and entertainment systems, keeping family members in the same place while dinner is made, before getting everyone around the dinner table for the overall consumption.
Part of this versatility appears to stem from the idea that homes will essentially get smaller, even with the vast amount of land Australia has.
Units and flats will for many be the primary way of living, and these will have to pack as much usability into a small space as possible, which means multiple uses for a room.
For many upcoming home designs, that will mean modular living, with lounge rooms that can also work as bedrooms, almost like what studio living is like, while the living room can be shared with the kitchen and office thanks to smaller computers, a reliance on gadgets, and shelving and furniture that can do more.
Back to the kitchen, though, because that versatility has pushed Ikea to the expectation that the it will overtake the area where the TV is as the centre of the home, citing that the kitchen island will become a social hub for socialising — both physical and digital — while the cooking side will be there for food prep and serving.
As many of us migrate to smartphones and tablets as the primary way to consume content, that is semi-expected, but don’t expect the TV to totally disappear, as this could still find a spot in furniture for us when you want to sit down and watch a programme.
“For 40 years, we’ve observed how Australian’s are living and it’s clear that the move towards a more digitised world will see people craving human interactions during their time at home, so it’s important our furniture supports and facilitates that,” said Eva-Carin Banka Johnson, Future Home Project Manager for IKEA.
In a way, this modularity will progress outwards from the kitchen, as Johnson explains:
“We predict that by 2025 kitchens will include smart counter tops, smart storage solutions and smart waste management systems – and the rest of the home will be no different. Soon our homes will give us what we want without us even asking for it.
“The boundaries between inside and outside will be even more blurred than they are today, as we think of new ways to let nature into the house. We will use technology to transport the outside in, while materials and textiles inside will be used to reflect the great outdoors.”
Some of our furniture might just stay, however, and Ikea’s classic, the Billy bookcase, could still be there. IKEA did tell us that while it is working with modular designs for moving walls, and playing with wireless electricity and inductive charging for a more connected home, it also was researching making popular products like the Billy stay with them, with more sustainable designs.
“Billy began as a simple sketch on the back of a napkin in 1979 and since then has featured in homes across Australia for 40 years,” said Johnson to GadgetGuy this week, adding that “we continue to look for ways to improve our most iconic products so that they’ll move with us into the future.”
We’ll be curious to see how that happens in the next ten years, and we can’t wait to see how our take on Australian homes changes with it, as the kitchen and living room converge on each other to save space for all, among other things we’re sure the furniture giant hasn’t thought of yet.