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This Ingenious Furniture Doubles As A Microgrid

Homes are becoming smart–which means they’re increasingly dependent on electricity. But what if furniture could act as its own energy source?

A new furniture line called Patch by Brooklyn-based studio UM Project proposes exactly that: three cabinets, with built-in lighting, sound, and device charging stations, along with a mirror and a curtain, connect to an outdoor bench with a solar panel overhang that can power them all for up to 24 hours.

[Photo: Francis Dzikowski/Otto/UM Project]

The collection, which is on display at this year’s Milan furniture fair, transforms a small space into a microgrid. The batteries spread out within each piece of furniture, allowing the group of furniture to functions as the space’s energy source.

[Photo: Francis Dzikowski/Otto/UM Project]
Patch includes a blue chest that features a charging station and electrical outlet and is made of 250 glass enameled tiles that interlock like a jigsaw puzzle. A brown armoire that’s made from 200 phenolic tubes, which are an old type of industrial plastic used during the era of the transistor radio, lights up and turns on sound when you touch certain spots. A red glass case has motion detectors inside and lights up when you approach it. There’s also a wall-mounted mirror that rotates when you touch it and a wire curtain that essentially acts as an extension cord.

The microgrid’s solar energy lasts for 24 hours and takes eight hours to recharge. UM Project says the system is enough to power a micro-apartment (though the question remains, where would you put the solar panels if you live in such a tiny space?).

Patch will be on display at Salone del Mobile’s Ventura Future show until April 22. The concept is a one-off and is for sale, with price upon request.