Would you live with your coworkers? A new concept from the housewares and apparel company Muji makes the idea look almost enticing.
Created for the annual exhibition House Vision, the prototype is a thought experiment in the way people live in super-dense cities. It was designed by architect Go Hasegawa specifically for employees in Muji’s Shanghai office, who can travel up to three hours to work–one way. It’s a common problem in big cities all over the world, and Hasegawa’s design is meant to balance space-saving with privacy, transforming a 1.5-story space (which are common across the city) into a usable space for four.
The lower level features an open communal space, with a spacious kitchen and lounging area, and enough storage cubbies to house the trinkets of a small army. The decor is, of course, provided by Muji, meaning it’s paired down and simple, the vision of calm.
The middle of the space features a steel-framed structure supporting four raised rooms. When you go up the stairs–which serve as seating for an entertainment area when you’re awake–you reach your lofted sleeping area, which offers just enough privacy to rest. Each “room” is really just a big, elevated wood box, consist of shelving, a side table with lamp, and a rollout bed.
These lofted rooms are actually inspired by China’s own heritage of canopy beds. Popular during the Ming period, the four-post beds were open during the day, serving as seating and even sometimes including accoutrements like integrated tables. But at night, panels or silks would curtain off the bed for privacy. The beds were, in essence, a room within a room. A cozy cubicle.
Muji and Hasegawa essentially repurposed this tradition and lifted it into the air, creating tiny lofted bedrooms without building out a whole second floor. “In Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities with soaring land prices, this kind of housing will become a brand-new type of staff quarters,” an exhibition statement explains.
While it’s enticing, as these minimal living concepts so often are, I’ll keep my queen bed, ample closet space, and bathroom I don’t have to share with my management team. Or at the very least, I’ll take a look at Muji’s prefab housing line first.