Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo / Published by Dwell
Gone is the suburban flight of yesterday. These days, more people around the world are moving into cities by choice—and as a result, space has become a precious commodity.

As most city dwellers already know, space is always at a premium. But sometimes less can be more, and the lack of space and resources can be an inspiration—challenging designers, architects, and innovative inhabitants to seek creative new ways of designing a home to be comfortable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.

Gestalten's new release Small Homes, Grand Living explores an assortment of projects and homes, while paying homage to the innovation that's happening within modest urban living areas. It reveals creative uses of space in expanding urban areas across the globe. 

Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 1 of 16 -

Life in a smaller abode that's close to a city center can have numerous lifestyle benefits such as shorter commutes, smaller energy bills, and access to common building facilities. Professor Sigurd Larsen, a Berlin-based Danish architect, details in the book's preface, "The luxury of time is a value that can replace the luxury of space if you are willing to live in a smaller, more compact home."

Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 2 of 16 - The Spectral Apartment by Betillon/Dorval-Bory Architects is a renovation of a 215-square-foot flat on the outskirts of Paris. Designed around the need to maximize natural light, the all-white interior features a mezzanine with a stairway leading up to a sleeping nook that conceals the sink and shower below. 

The Spectral Apartment by Betillon/Dorval-Bory Architects is a renovation of a 215-square-foot flat on the outskirts of Paris. Designed around the need to maximize natural light, the all-white interior features a mezzanine with a stairway leading up to a sleeping nook that conceals the sink and shower below. 

City living in small spaces can also be much more eco-friendly. "In terms of sustainability, compact living in densely populated areas is the most efficient form of accommodation," Larsen points out. But where does one store their clothing, suitcases, bed linens, or books in these smaller homes? Some have turned to built-in bookshelves and stairs that cleverly transform into wardrobes. 

Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 3 of 16 - Room 304 is a hotel suite in Berlin's Michelberger Hotel designed by Danish architect Sigurd Larsen. It's one of 100 unique suites within the hotel. From the outside, the bedroom "cabin" is painted white, but the interior is warm and cozy—thanks to the light colored timber. 

Room 304 is a hotel suite in Berlin's Michelberger Hotel designed by Danish architect Sigurd Larsen. It's one of 100 unique suites within the hotel. From the outside, the bedroom "cabin" is painted white, but the interior is warm and cozy—thanks to the light colored timber. 

The book explores everything from compact flats perched atop the roofs of high-rise buildings, to the use of floor-to-ceiling shelving. The concept of going vertical is nothing new and has always been the logical solution in urban metropolises such as Tokyo and Manhattan. By reflecting how these space-saving techniques were traditionally handled, Small Homes, Grand Living takes a look at homes in cultures known for their design expertise—such as Japan and Scandinavia—and examines how homes were organized for efficiency.

Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 4 of 16 - The High House in Melbourne by Dan Gayfer integrates storage cabinets and a wine rack into the staircase. 

The High House in Melbourne by Dan Gayfer integrates storage cabinets and a wine rack into the staircase. 

The demands of compact living accommodations have enabled designers and architects to incorporate ample storage without sacrificing style. On the contrary, hidden storage becomes design elements that add to the character of a home. Case in point, some have turned stairs into storage and bookshelves into walls—with necessity acting as the mother of invention. 

Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 5 of 16 - The bathroom in the bedroom loft of this Spanish apartment by Elil sneaks a sunken bath as and extra storage for toiletries and a vanity mirror into the floor. 

The bathroom in the bedroom loft of this Spanish apartment by Elil sneaks a sunken bath as and extra storage for toiletries and a vanity mirror into the floor. 

By incorporating innovative solutions into renovations, designers and architects are continuing to push beyond logical thinking, as we adapt to the needs of our changing lifestyles. These clever transformations ultimately show that a home is both shelter and a reflection of its residents—and Small Homes, Grand Living is a chance for a glimpse into some diminutive abodes and their inspiring real-life design solutions.

Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 6 of 16 - For this family home in Geneva, architect Aurelie Monet Kasisi designed a series of bookshelves that act as walls. dividing two large rooms into four smaller ones. 

For this family home in Geneva, architect Aurelie Monet Kasisi designed a series of bookshelves that act as walls. dividing two large rooms into four smaller ones. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 7 of 16 - This 350-square-foot prototype house designed by Graham Hill, the founder of the eco-lifestyle website Treehugger, features a guest room that can also be transformed into an office or a bar—then discretely concealed behind a gray felt curtain that offers guests privacy. 

This 350-square-foot prototype house designed by Graham Hill, the founder of the eco-lifestyle website Treehugger, features a guest room that can also be transformed into an office or a bar—then discretely concealed behind a gray felt curtain that offers guests privacy. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 8 of 16 - This home in Koriyama, Japan, by Architect Kotaro Anzai, takes its cues from traditional Japanese carpentry techniques that use staircases to maximize storage. 

This home in Koriyama, Japan, by Architect Kotaro Anzai, takes its cues from traditional Japanese carpentry techniques that use staircases to maximize storage. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 9 of 16 - The bedroom in this conversion of a former artist's studio is literally concealed in a white box suspended from the ceiling and located just off the living room. Designed by Emmanuel Combarel Dominique Marrec Architects, the bedroom is "like a hut in the middle of the flat."

The bedroom in this conversion of a former artist's studio is literally concealed in a white box suspended from the ceiling and located just off the living room. Designed by Emmanuel Combarel Dominique Marrec Architects, the bedroom is "like a hut in the middle of the flat."


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 10 of 16 - MKCA's (Michael K. Chen Architecture) refurbishment of this 420-square-foot apartment literally unfolds. Instead of dividing the unit into smaller spaces, he used a single piece of furniture to reconfigure and subdivide the space. 

MKCA's (Michael K. Chen Architecture) refurbishment of this 420-square-foot apartment literally unfolds. Instead of dividing the unit into smaller spaces, he used a single piece of furniture to reconfigure and subdivide the space. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 11 of 16 - This renovation for a writer in Prague by BY Architects has slotted the bed behind a massive bookshelf in order to meet spatial requirements. 

This renovation for a writer in Prague by BY Architects has slotted the bed behind a massive bookshelf in order to meet spatial requirements. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 12 of 16 - Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture (JPDA) remodeled this 500-square-foot East Village Studio to create a small and functional studio flat. The generous amount of storage effectively conceals any clutter. 

Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture (JPDA) remodeled this 500-square-foot East Village Studio to create a small and functional studio flat. The generous amount of storage effectively conceals any clutter. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 13 of 16 - The Mill House in Melbourne, Australia, by Austin Maynard Architects incorporates a kind of giant toy box beneath the floor of the main living space. 

The Mill House in Melbourne, Australia, by Austin Maynard Architects incorporates a kind of giant toy box beneath the floor of the main living space. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 14 of 16 - This home reconfigured for an artist in Porto by URBAstudios uses a central unit to create a kitchenette, while also concealing a second-story bedroom from view. 

This home reconfigured for an artist in Porto by URBAstudios uses a central unit to create a kitchenette, while also concealing a second-story bedroom from view. 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 15 of 16 - The Zoku Lofts were designed by the Dutch practice Concrete Amsterdam, and are located in the eastern canal district of Amsterdam. "A hotel for living in," the lofts have been designed according to the notion of "work-meets-play." 

The Zoku Lofts were designed by the Dutch practice Concrete Amsterdam, and are located in the eastern canal district of Amsterdam. "A hotel for living in," the lofts have been designed according to the notion of "work-meets-play." 


Gestalten's New Book Shows How to Transform Small Spaces Into Design Marvels - Photo 16 of 16 - Danish architects Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann's "Live Between Buildings" is a "proposal" for micro-living for urban areas. 

Danish architects Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann's "Live Between Buildings" is a "proposal" for micro-living for urban areas.