In Star Trek, turbolifts are futuristic transport tubes that whisk in all three dimensions between decks on a starship. Comparatively, Hitachi’s latest elevator isn’t quite as functional–it doesn’t travel in three dimensions, just one–but aesthetically, it’s just as cool. It’s a sleek elevator design that makes traveling from one another as comfortable as it is futuristic.
Overseen by Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, Hitachi’s new elevator was designed around the tendency of people to hug a corner when they have to travel between floors. Fukasawa’s design makes these corners more intimate, by rounding them into comfortable, body-conforming hollows. Yet while Hitachi’s elevator makes corners more comfortable, it also takes pains to make the interior less claustrophobic, by raising the ceiling a couple feet.
But that’s not the only gorgeous touch. Instead of the standard bank of buttons, Fukasawa’s panel is a vertical-oriented LCD control panel, with a minimalist sans-serif UI and an information screen that gives information about the news and weather outside. Meanwhile, the ceiling of Hitachi’s elevators has built-in LEDs that mimic the color of ambient light around the building at any time of day.
A recipient of the 2015 Good Design Award, the only thing missing is the ability to travel horizontally as well as vertically. But as we’ve written before, that technology is coming, as early as 2016. And when that happens, Hitachi’s elevator won’t just look like a turbolift. It will be one.