Smartphones and tablets have changed the way we live in a whole slew of ways—but one thing we don’t often mention is how they change our relationship to furniture. For example, you know how most couches have a front and a backside? That’s a relic of the television era, when sofas were designed to face a single TV screen. These days, we’re more likely to be holding up the screens ourselves. According to Werner Aisslinger, the German designer of a Moroso collection called Bikini Island, we’re due for an update. "This evolution of behavior needs a new design typology," he says.
Traditionally, living rooms that are uni-directional—or Simpsons style, as I like to call it—are oriented toward a single screen or device. A lot of offices are this way, too. Bikini Island (so named for its atoll-like qualities) is a movable landscape of low, flat elements that are designed for mobile computing. The seats are deeper, because it’s not necessary to be at a particular height to see the screen. Each component is completely ambiguous, without a clear front or back. "The modules have different heights, depths, legs and fabrics, and colors," Aisslinger tells Co.Design. "The project is designed to reflect our heterogeneous lives. [It’s] an in-house landscape for reading on tablets, watching movies on our phones, meditation, and talking."
The name of the collection—which debuts this month in Milan—is a double entendre both on the swimsuit and Bikini Atoll, the chain of South Pacific Islands that hosted American nuclear tests. Both cultural phenomena arrived at around the same time, in the late 1940s and early '50s. The low, flat, almost Japanese profile of Bikini Island is perfectly matched to an era that romanticized the South Pacific. "The bikini was a real revolution," he told Stylepark recently. "It has a touch of the South Seas about it and a revolutionary flair of something completely unusual."
The work will debut at Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan on April 9.