What if Furniture Worked Like a Swiss Army Knife?

What if Furniture Worked Like a Swiss Army Knife?

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By Luke Hopping
Convertible furniture by Stephen Kenn for Victorinox takes inspiration from the acme of efficiency.

Getting a pocketknife is a rite of passage few kids forget. Los Angeles designer Stephen Kenn remembers his first: "When I was twelve, my dad let me pick out a small Swiss Army Knife," he recalls. "I loved the sleek motion of the blades being pulled out, and the hidden tweezers and toothpick." Kenn reunited with those memories earlier this year when Victorinox, maker of the original little red Swiss Army Knife, invited him to do a capsule collection of furniture in the tradition of their world-famous all-in-one widget. Featuring cleverly concealed hardware, the three pieces he designed—a chair that flips into a stepladder, a height-adjustable table/desk, and a swiveling storage unit—are capable of more than their compact forms suggest. Like Victorinox’s 119-year-old knife, they’re precise, economical, and, for Kenn, a bit personal: "I enjoy the emotional response that a well-designed object receives."

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