One of the big appeals of technology devices is that they get smaller and more powerful with each successive design. This trend toward miniaturization makes these devices easier to carry and store, and much more convenient to use, which affects how we live and work. The logical conclusion for miniaturization—implanting computers in our bodies—is now less the stuff of science fiction and more a matter of future labs.
Miniaturization, as you might expect, has affected the furniture and other objects that support it. This complementary effect is known as dematerialization, and it means that less—or even better, no—material is used to create a product that provides the same level of function to the people who use it. Steven Kurutz, in the New York Times, sees this trend affecting industrial designers, who are adapting their designs “in ways big and small, subtle and not so subtle — to new forms of technology and the proliferation of devices like the iPad, e-readers and ever-thinner flat-screen TVs.”
Both trends—miniaturization and dematerialization—are likely to continue and speed up. As Ryan Anderson, our director of furniture technology, notes in the article, designers used to have time to anticipate where technology was headed and plan for it. But with the speed of technology change today, the furniture, and the space it occupies, have to adapt almost instantly.