Minimalist furniture is often considered antithetical to hi-tech features, but this concept challenges those assumptions in a simple yet beautiful way.
There is no stopping the fact that our appliances and even our furniture are getting smarter. Many lighting solutions today connect to the Internet, and some wooden desks or shelves have built-in wireless charging. The influx of technology in our homes can sometimes feel a bit too invasive and disruptive, especially if they tend to drive people apart, even when sharing the same physical space. Technology can sometimes also be too “in your face,” flexing its muscles and creating disharmony in people’s lives. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way at all, and thoughtful product design offers the opportunities to upgrade what looks like simple, minimalist furniture without disrupting a family’s dynamics. In fact, it can even become a place for family and friends to build stronger relationships.
Designer: Dan Nigri
The dining table has always been traditionally associated with family bonding, at least before the era of television and smartphones. You only have to look at how many romcoms and TV dramas play out their most emotional or pivotal scenes around the dinner table. Things have changed drastically over the past years, especially when family members started paying more attention to their phones instead of each other, even when sitting around the same table. It’s only fitting, then, that this concept starts with a dining table to help repair the damage that technology has done in our lives.
At first brush, Etto looks like a nondescript wooden table. Its minimalist design is pleasing to look at but nothing we haven’t seen before. Things change, however, when you “turn on” the table and the surface starts to display icons and text. Underneath that wooden veneer is apparently a screen that you can also touch and play with. It doesn’t take much imagination to also presume it connects to the Internet as well.
The motivation behind this concept design is to bring everyone back to the dining table again. In addition to eating together, the table encourages other social activities, particularly playing games. With a touch screen, however, Etto can really become a canvas for almost anything, like a calendar and project board for discussing the next family vacation or a leaderboard of chores that everyone has accomplished.
It isn’t a gigantic tablet, though, so there are still limits on what you can do on the table. It is limited to a monochrome display of white against the natural wooden surface of the table, and there don’t seem to be enough pixels to display hi-res images. Those restrictions are intentional, of course, because technology is meant to blend into our everyday lives and not be another source of disruption and distraction.
Many of the technologies needed to make the Etto table happen already exist today, with touch screen panels hiding behind wooden planks. It is definitely a more pleasing and less overwhelming way of seeing a future that’s filled with touch screens and information at every turn. You can have your cake and eat it too, and not be worried that it’ll come screaming at you for attention.