Cities such as London, Seattle, San Francisco and almost everywhere else are seeing an influx of young professionals, yet those urban centers are more expensive and more condensed. People are seeking smaller living spaces as an economic opportunity, and while it meshes well with notions of sustainability, the question Ori is tackling is: how do we accommodate a living room, bedroom, closet and office space in a small 200-300 square feet apartment?

While the Ori team had the technology – actuators, electronics and software to glide heavy furniture and connect it to other smart devices – our goal was to find a single unit scenario that would maximize the value of a micro studio or one bedroom apartment. The unit had to be flexible for both the developer and end user, with modular features based on spatial volume. More importantly, it had to solve the problems inherent to micro-living, such as maximizing storage space and minimizing clutter.

In developing the Ori system and brand, we had to consider both the developer and the end user. Developers require a flexible and modular system to fit unique spaces, with a unique offering that will add value to a space. Ori creates financial value for renters or owners; a studio becomes a one bedroom, for example. By tripling the usage, and essentially the square footage of a space, apartments immediately see added value. For the user, mainly young professionals moving into urban environments, or adults who want to leave a smaller footprint by owning less and living lighter, we wanted to create an experience of luxury despite the obvious lack of space. This can be done utilizing quality materials, creating efficiencies through space and functionality, and also through the experience of the technology itself.

Ori, the new company name we selected, comes from the Japanese word ‘origami’ meaning ‘to fold,’ an appropriate connection to the brand’s mission. Every element such as the logo, app interface and furniture design was designed to represent a sense of playful and elegant origami, a seamless intertwining of shapes. The animated logo has the ability to fold into itself, with a palette of blacks, greys and whites to focus on the technological aspect of the core business. Like the homeowner, the Ori brand speaks of sophisticated affordable interior design, making a strong statement with geometry and translucency.

The inaugural Ori system is a robotic furniture system that transforms at the touch of a button. Hidden into the bottom of the unit is a comfortable bed that glides in and out. When tucked in, the bed is hidden under a closet, office and couch to maximize space. When activated, the unit slides in and out to become a bedroom or a more generous living room. One side of the unit hosts a full closet, but also hides a desk for a home office; the other side holds a media center for entertaining. Each room can be preset for a space, including preferred integrated lighting, so that one touch on the physical interface or on the corresponding app will morph the room. The on-device console uses manual glider buttons that make the owner feel as though they are magically moving the unit. The Ori system goes beyond functionality – customization of finishes, materials and colors truly lets you own your space, and the functionality means a small space can be transformed into a multi-functional home in just seconds.

The Ori app, mirroring the brand’s foldable geometries, enables users to seamlessly transform their home Ori unit with the touch of a button. From anywhere in the world, the user can simply touch the icon for Living Room, Office or Bedroom, and the unit will shift to its pre-settings. In this way, if you have a friend coming over after work, you can tap Living Room and have your home ready to go. Or, after you leave in the morning, you can tuck your bed away without having to make it. The app also lets users dive into deeper customizations in order to make their unit perfect for them. The same icons from the app also appear on the on-device interface, with intuitive arrows to guide the user to move the unit manually. The on-device interface, a seemingly stark black pyramid, comes to life with a motion sensor that lights the icons from underneath. Every bit of the digital experience of Ori is meant to feel like magic, at home or remotely.