January 1, 2012

Future Systems For Kids: Dinghy Sofa & Josef's Bed


Until I just reorganized some shelves and went through my stash of their 1990s architecture books, I guess I'd forgotten how utterly awesome Future Systems was. The London firm comprised of Amanda Levete and Czech emigre Jan Kaplicky was beyond the cutting edge of prefab and technological innovation, and pursued a remarkably practical, futuristic vision until their divorce, followed by their dissolution of the firm, and Kaplicky's untimely death in 2008. Looking through these books now, which feel like Tumblr blogs in print, it feels like we're barely catching up to where they were fifteen years ago.

Back then, meanwhile, my single, oblivious self never really noticed how kid-friendly, even kid-oriented, their designs were.


Let's start close to home, with some furniture [I'm guessing] Kaplicky designed in 1996 for the multi-story loft the couple shared with their 3-year-old son Josef. The unifying theme of the converted industrial building was "hot lips" pink. They used it for the carpet and the Dinghy, the giant, conversation pit-style sofa that defined the open space living room.


Which was, as you could guess, great for parties, kids, and kids' parties.


Also pink: Josef's tubular chrome, wall-mounted twin bed, inspired, Kaplicky said, by the classic Bauhaus designs of Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe.

At some point in the late 1990s, I contacted Levete and Kaplicky about ordering an aluminum table like theirs, but they told me no, it was a one-off. I'm afraid that goes for the Dinghy and Josef's Bed, too.

images via Marcus Fields' 1999 monograph, Future Systems [amazon]

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