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7 ‘apartment-in-a-box’ designs for tiny spaces

Small living, made easy

all-in-one furniture with bed and storage
The Living Cube
Photo by Rob Lewis courtesy Till Könneker

As micro apartments become ever more prevalent in cities around the world, architects and designers seem to have grasped firmly onto one idea: the “all-in-one” furniture solution that combines multiple functions into one module. The premise is simple. By tucking in everything you need as compactly and cleverly as possible, you can make the most of the little space that you do have.

Below, take a look at the most standout Swiss Army knives of furniture we’ve come across in recent years. A few, like the Living Cube and Ori Systems, may be available to order soon, while the rest—a mix of custom projects and one-off concepts—can offer plenty of inspiration for small living.

Cubitat by Luca Nichetto and Urban Capital

Unveiled at Toronto’s Interior Design Show in 2015, “Cubitat” is an entire apartment—kitchen! bathroom! bedroom! entertaining area! storage!—packed into one 10′ x 10′ x 10′ box. With its aggressively modular design, the Cubitat was intended to be highly customizable in both materials and functions. So far, it remains a concept. (Photos courtesy Urban Capital)

Living Cube by Till Könneker

Feeling constrained by tiny studio apartments, Switzerland-based designer Till Könneker came up with the nifty all-in-one “Living Cube” to create more space. The compact Living Cube fits a sleeping area up top and a dozen storage spaces on the sides, including larger openings for a TV or hanging clothes. It can even be transformed into a walk-in closet with all that extra volume beneath the bed. The Living Cube is available in two standard sizes as well as in built-to-order models, and can soon be pre-ordered here. (Photo by Rob Lewis)

Domino Loft by ICOSA and Peter Suen

Designed for a couple living in a small San Francisco condo, this custom loft is a bit less cubic but just as multifunctional. The void in the center hides a fold-down dining table, murphy bed for guests, compact work station, and lots of storage. A ladders leads up to the main sleeping area. The whole thing was prefabricated off site. (Photo by Brian Flaherty)

The Hub by Kraaijvanger Architects

Containing a kitchen, shower, and toilet, these 161-square-foot modules made of laminated blockboard and solid timber are designed to instantly transform any building with water and electricity hookups into a livable space. A “BedHub” variant features sliding doors with a sleeping area inside. The first Hub and BedHub were built after the concept won a design competition hosted by Rotterdam social housing association, Havensteder, which has since donated the prototype to the city. (Photos by Ronald Tilleman)

Ori by Yves Behar and the MIT Media Lab

Perhaps the most high-tech of the bunch, Ori is a line of automated multi-functional furniture modules controlled by the push of a button. A Ori system contains various components that glide, expand, or contract to form distinct spaces like a living room, office area, or bedroom. The product is expected to begin rolling out sometime this year, and will be available to developers and building owners as well. (Photo courtesy Ori)

Living Space by Ruetemple

The focal point of this renovated Moscow apartment is a all-white cube that contains what seems like the perfect meditation spot, complete with a real tree, rocks, and pillows under a skylight. Beneath this central module, however, hides a system of pull-out seating that can be arranged around the cube to form various living spaces—or completely tucked away when it’s yoga or dance party time. (Photo courtesy Ruetemple)

Kammerspiel by Nils Holger Moormann

From the German designer behind this tricked-out Volkswagen mobile home comes another all-in-one furniture solution for small apartments. Much like the Living Cube, Kammerspiel offers a bed up top and plenty of storage found inside the cube and on the exterior shelves. There’s also built-in seating and a foldable kitchen counter, and bike rack. The Kammerspiel is still in prototype stage. (Photo by Julia Rotter)