The Amazin Apartment concept is a thought-provoking installation created by Future Facility, is the branch of London studio Industrial Facility founded by designers Sam Hecht and Kim Colin to focus on the Internet of Things economy. Amazin Apartment was commissioned for the London’s Design Museum, for the Home section of the exhibition “New Old”.
The exhibition – curated by Jeremy Myerson and Helen Hamlyn Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art and sponsored by the Helen Hamlyn Trust and AXA PPP healthcare – asks designers to propose a future for the rapidly growing ageing population.
“Despite the implicit promise of digital technology to make our lives simpler and easier, there is a crisis afoot for the growing, older population,” explain Sam Hecht and Kim Colin. “Although many household appliances are easily acquired, these same products are inherently difficult to manage and maintain over time; what was once purchased as a convenience has potential to become a burden in later life.”
As we age, we become less likely to navigate the conditions that shops and manufacturers require of youthful consumers. This puts the ageing population in an unfortunate position – abandoned at the exact moment when they need better products, increased assistance and servicing. Alienated by the speed of change in trade, manufacturing and technology, older consumers would benefit from a revolutionary domestic independence: the Amazin Apartment.
For Future Facility, the responsibility for the quality of elder living is too great to leave to the interest of individual appliance manufacturers. Instead, the new generation of technology companies for whom consolidation and service is central to existence (Amazon, Google and Nest for example), are in a far better position to deliver a more reliable and worry-free form of independent living for seniors.
Amazin Apartment is a theoretical invention, whose mandate is to remove the worry and burden associated with domestic upkeep by providing property development, management and supply. In this future, older people are less concerned with data collection, and allow companies to record, analyse and process their data in exchange for the comfort that comes from full-service.
Amazin Apartment creates the experience of heightened domestic simplicity, where appliances are reduced to their most essential interface and all anxiety about their operation and maintenance is removed. In the installation, three segments of a typical Amazin wall have been created to demonstrate the visual and functional differences between the apartment and service sides. A washer/dryer has a single button with one setting, not endless interfaces. It is positioned at standing height, with a shelf below, to avoid the need for bending down. On the service side, large boxes of powder that last up to a month are installed. The refridgerator has two doors – on the living side, the left door houses new ordered produce that has been delivered – and is moved to the right side for consumption. On the service side, there is only a right door for delivering the orders. A water fountain allows a choice of filtered or branded waters to be plumbed in.
Simplified appliances like the above, as well as heating and air-conditioning utilities are built into ‘core’ walls (that are themselves products), serviced from behind by unseen Amazin Service staff and robots. This structure is not dissimilar from the way the Palace of Versailles or fictional Downton Abbey are arranged, where residents never see the services nor the staff moving between rooms because of a network of service corridors and utility rooms hidden from the more formal, public and private rooms.
The Amazin Service corridor, the back side of the apartment wall, is organised like an advanced warehouse, so that goods and services can be passed through, historically analysed and replaced as needed with minimal impact on the Apartment, allowing staff to repair or replace an appliance should it break – all without staff entering the apartment. The Amazin Apartment installation is speculative and is to provoke discussion. It raises questions about the designed connection between products and their maintenance or serviceability, and equally about how much consumers consider fair ‘trade’ of their data in the expanded digital economy.
all image and video Future Facility