Self-assembling foam chair expands like popcorn

Belgian designer Carl de Smet has created a memory foam chair that assembles itself when heated.

(Credit: Noumenon)

Belgian designer Carl de Smet has created a memory foam chair that assembles itself when heated.

This is a new kind of flat-pack furniture. There are no Allen keys, no screws, no scratching your head over Ikea-style instructions. Instead, Noumenon designer Carl de Smet's Memories of the Future furniture just needs a little loving warmth.

(Credit: Noumenon)

It's made from shape memory polyurethane (SMP), a material invented by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry that expands when heated. This allows de Smet to manufacture the chair and squash it down to 5 per cent of its size for packing and shipping. When the owner gets it home, it blows up like a balloon with the application of a little heat. This process takes roughly 10 minutes, et voilà! There's your chair.

At the moment, that heat must be higher than 70 degrees Celsius, so that the furniture doesn't start popping up like disastrous popcorn in the warehouse on a hot summer's day. To effect even heating, at this stage, a controlled temperature box is required to expand the furniture. However, de Smet is hoping to make the method of expansion more accessible to the average consumer, and is researching other ways of achieving the same result, such as running an electrical current through the furniture.

The idea for the Memories of the Future project was conceived when de Smet was researching shape polymer alloys for potential use in parabolic antennas (PDF) for space deployment. The idea was that a small package could be sent into orbit that would expand when hit by the heat of the sun's rays.

"I wanted to bring it back to daily life, and not only use it for high-technology projects, and for that the metals were too expensive," de Smet told Dezeen. "With polymers, when you produce them in large quantities, it's affordable."


About the author

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.


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