Ori by Yves Béhar Is the New Robotic Furniture System Poised to Transform Urban Living

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By Jenny Xie / Published by Dwell
Developed with technology out of the MIT Media Lab and designed by Fuseproject, the mobile, modular furniture system is now available to preorder.

As young professionals continue to flock to New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and dense urban centers the world over, costs of living have skyrocketed, whereas the availability of space has plummeted. And while the micro-living movement has assuaged some of the pressure, making 200- or 300-square-foot dwellings feel multifunctional and spacious is still a challenge.

In direct response to this problem, Ori, Inc. has recently launched the Ori Full and Ori Queen Systems, the first family of robotic furniture that allows a single studio to flow between states—living room, bedroom, walk-in closet, and office. Co-founded at MIT by CEO Hasier Larrea, Ori is the collaborative union of university-backed research and technology and the design efforts of Yves Béhar and his team at Fuseproject.

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"While the Ori team had the technology—actuators, electronics, and software to glide heavy furniture and connect it to other smart devices—our goal was to find a single-unit scenario that would maximize the value of a micro-studio or one-bedroom apartment," explains Béhar.

The system—which is available in a variety of materials, finishes, and colors—moves along a mechanical track through a simple, physical interface, the Ori mobile app, or an Alexa voice command. Hidden at the bottom of the unit is a full- or queen-sized bed that can be deployed to convert the space into a bedroom. On the same side, plentiful storage and a concealed desk serve as a closet and home office. On the other side, a media center boasts further shelving and a pull-out surface that can act as a coffee table. With the Ori system, says Larrea, "you can start thinking about how a space really adapts to us and our activities and not the other way around."

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Ori takes its name from the Japanese art of origami. Says Béhar, "Every element such as the logo, app interface, and furniture design was designed to represent a sense of playful and elegant origami, a seamless intertwining of shapes." Now available in 10 cities, Ori has partnered with real estate developers across the U.S. and Canada to install pilot systems in modern apartment complexes. The systems are now available to preorder with the first production run of 1,200 units to be shipped at the end of this year.

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For Ori, this is just the beginning. "We think of it as a toolkit—the brain and the brawn of the furniture of the future," says Larrea. "In the same way Yves and Fuse created the first family, furniture companies and other designers can create new solutions for different price points, demographics, and countries."