II BY IV Design Associates conceives a retro-futurist life lab for an interior design show concept project.
Abby Bussel -- Interior Design, 10/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
A little Elton John, a little Barbarella, a little 2001: A Space Odyssey, the concept house for this year's Toronto Interior Design Show looked back in an effort to look ahead, with its retro Wallpaper-styling, Automat conveniences, and modular systems. The organizers of this annual event that lures 50,000 or so visitors to the Metro Toronto Convention Center to see the latest in Canadian residential design, invited local firm II BY IV Design Associates to provide an interpretation of what living at the beginning of the millennium might mean.
"We wanted to inspire others to think about alternatives" for residential living, says Dan Menchions, a partner at II BY IV. The "Space Concepts 2001" project, which was assembled on site in two days' time, was to be easy to use and maintain, spare in its design, and accommodate a lifestyle of convenience, he adds. A plug-in system of modules, custom cabinetry, and prefabricated millwork were all wrapped around and within the modular frame of a geodesic dome. It arrived at the trade show folded inside a 3-ft.-by-5-ft. trunk, replete with enough gadgets to keep any technophile happy. II BY IV's scheme is intended for either the earthbound (an extended-stay suite or a prefabricated package for building retrofits) or the gravity-defying (an efficiency unit for a space traveler).
Menchions describes the design as referring to the past, with a retro feel, while employing contemporary technologies and materials. Its white-on-white interior, he says, was developed to create a neutral backdrop for the visitors, making them the center of attention. The 600-sq.-ft. project includes living room, kitchen, bedroom, washroom, and closet. The central focus of the design is a geodesic dome, 14 ft. high and 20 ft. in diameter, housing the living area and bedroom. The interior surface of the dome, clad in rigid and lightweight composite panels, is two-tone: the lower panels were coated in a warm white, matte finish; the upper panels were surfaced with a high-polish metal laminate mirror.
The dome becomes a square, in plan, when three prefabricated modules are plugged into its sides. The polyester resin-coated MDF modules contain dining, bathing, and dressing facilities. The largest is the dining module: a central service area, flanked by two vinyl-covered banquettes, holds a refrigerated storage unit, a sink, and shelving. The bathing module has all the equipment a hygiene-conscious technophile could want: a touch-controlled multiple jet shower stall and a laser-controlled toilet with a polished chrome seat. Once freshly scrubbed, an inhabitant would amble over to the dressing module, accommodating a long, low shelf/table unit, an edge-lighted full-length mirror, and storage to hold the day's fashions, luggage, and computer equipment.
Right at home amid the high-gloss finishes, the sandblasted-glass surfaces, and the stainless-steel elements is the techno-driven art program. Touch screen monitors with backlit black-and-white images of a mouth and an ear in the dining module conceal media and climate controls. Ceiling-mounted television monitors lining the interior of the dome provide multimedia and computer connections. Each monitor was tuned to the image of a giant eye, which followed visitors as they explored the "Space Concepts 2001" project. The experience was completed by the constant amplification of trance and house music emanating from a concealed sound system.