Folding tables, desks and carts with a tiny footprint

On Core77, Hipstomp profiles Oasis Concepts, a furniture maker that produces flat-folding compact furniture. I'm semi-obsessed with tiny-footprint furniture at the moment, having confronted the reality that we're not likely to get a bigger flat any time soon. I keep thinking that if we could just put in some ambitious convertible Murphy-style furniture in each room, we could get 1.5 rooms' worth of utility from each.

Oasis Concepts' Folding Tables


  1. This sort of folding stuff has been available to campers and caravanners for years. Only real difference is ours are ally for weight and theirs is wood for aesthetics.

  2. I’ve pondered building a Murphy bed for my downstairs bedroom — more for the sake of doing it than anything else.  I think I decided that a bookshelf headboard system, without the lifts, would be more useful.

  3. Folding furniture as a spacesaving device is useful only when it’s actually folded.  A bed that folds up every morning – good.  A table that is used only for dining and then folded up – good.  A table with not just one but two extra shelves below it – since those shelves are obviously for storing items, well – where do you put those stored items when you fold the table? Purpose – defeated.

    1.  Seems to be on wheels, so consider it a serving table of some kind. That is, you stack various plates and such on the lower shelves, and then pack it all away once the meal is completed.

    2. Exactly.

      Drop-leaf tables have been around for a very long time.  They are incredibly useful.  Shelves are useless unless they’re holding things.  The two concepts don’t mesh well together.

      What does work well is shallow shelving: very few items really need 11-12″ of depth.  Almost all books can be shelved on a 7″ deep bookcase, for example….which can be tucked into many more spaces in a small home than a conventional bookcase.

  4. These are pretty brilliant. Not only are the folding elements clever and simple, they look substantial and stable, which much folding furniture sacrifices. Ohbejoyful may be overlooking the value of what might be called ‘domestic rapid deployment’, or how, as contemporary lifestyles become increasingly about change and the need to reduce the hassle of that, the space saved on the moving van is just as important as the space saved day-to-day in the home.

    Contemporary homes are typically anachronistic in that they are designed as if there’s such a thing as functional perfection and permanence. The idea that any structure stays the same in function and pattern of use over its lifespan is an anachronism. In the contemporary urban environment everything is constantly turning into something else–and when it can’t it dies and gets removed. You can sort-of forgive the narcissistic architect who thinks he’s crafting some kind of monument or sculpture, but the conventional home and apartment seems engineered to maximize waste through an inability to easily and cost-effectively adapt with its habitable use-cycle–perhaps as an extension of bankers’ compulsion to maximize homeowner debt. After all, they are defining more about how we live than anything else… 

    We renovate and swap homes more frequently today than ever in history, yet they still aren’t designed to readily accommodate that simple fact and fill up landfills with the resultant waste. Since childhood, I’ve wondered why most homes aren’t designed like free-standing lofts outfit with the domestic equivalent of office furnishings, given how, obviously, that is more in parallel with how we actually use homes. Give me a steel frame park shelter with curtain walls and a radiant heat floor slab and I’ll do better in net environmental impact over a lifetime than with anything made of straw bales or cob and aping pueblos. 

    I often ask why it is that, in the 21st century, there are still any mainstream appliances in existence that still need more than one person to move and install? Who in their right mind still designs refrigerators, ranges, washing machines and the like that aren’t knock-down constructions like typical Ikea furniture? Who still thinks that makes any sense given how we now commonly live?  One of my pet obsessions is the idea of the flat-pak refrigerator. You could change the world with that, given how much impact easily mobile and low energy refrigeration could have on people in developing nations. Just imagine what a modest sized (let’s say, like a compact washing machine) flat-pack freezer that one person could bring into an apartment would change the patterns, and hence energy impact profile, of urban dwellers’ shopping. We now live in a world where, due to Global Warming, several billion people may be on the move over the next two decades. We should have more of the sensibility of the Tuvan yurt dweller–or the space settler. 

    Flex-living. Domestic Rapid Deployment. Furnitecture. Pod Living. Functionally generic architecture. Neo-Nomadism. This is what the future looks like. 

  5. Nice! On wheels is also good, so you can move them around when you repurpose your space. Unfoldable tables that contain a little cupboard where you can store chairs… doors and workspace flaps that slide out of sockets… I’ve used stacks of dictionaries as impromptu guest chairs, which was fine, and unread books as nightstands, which was not fine.
    Good folding beds are hard to find in the US. There’s a tendency to sell them covered in cushions but no built-in space to store the cushions or blankets. The non-overstuffed ones available from Ikea had a tendency to rattle cheaply.
    Adding shelves and hooks to things helps enormously, and it’s fun. is also fun (but incomplete!). There was a children’s dresser on pinterest recently that had children’s book-sized shelves added to the sides, brilliant.
    Imagine what we could flip up out of the floor, that would be stored upside-down under your feet. Pivoting bookshelves and paintings or mirrors that opened into additional storage space would be the bee’s knees…
    I’m also interested in getting more glass into rooves, more skylights to provide daylight. Especially in Seattle. I can’t understand why Miami has scorching sunlight yet big beautiful windows, and Seattle lives in darkness with no or small windows, and a tendency to place them so that they blind you and leave the rest of the unit in darkness. German windows are standardized to be wide but squat–people might be happier there if they reshaped their windows to be taller, like in francophone neighboring countries. Also, we need more periscopes, everywhere. There’s a periscope in the men’s room of a Seattle diner that’s pointed at the Space Needle. That’s just a beginning.

  6. I always thought this was a great idea:
    It’s long term  food storage (think dried/canned goods) under the floor of Australian photographer Rob Gray’s post-apocaliptic winnebago, the Wothahellizat Mk.1.

    All there is under the hardwood in my house is beams and air: Unused space you could totally use like this. 

    (Bonus factoid: Rob used to give away the code he runs his site on – my first ever blog entries back in the late ’90’s ran on his code (before “weblog” had been coined it was called “journalling”).)

  7. Related to folding and collapsible furniture – does anyone know what happened to furniture designer Richard Ehrlich? I can’t find any information on him or his work online, but my family has a lot of his furniture, and it’s great stuff. He was active in Austin back in the ’80s, designing solid all-oak knockdown-capable furniture first under his own name, then that of his wife, Christine Ehrlich. These typically used butcher-block-like construction, with all wood pieces at least 1.5 inches thick (4 cm), with all corners and edges rounded-off, basically 3-D rounded rectangles. The finish was always Watco oil – very easy to renew compared to other types. Ehrlich’s furniture is essentially indestructible. A variety of fasteners were used for quick setup, including no-tool-needed metal types and occasionally Velcro. (Edit – Ehrlich patented his fasteners. In the patent drawings you can see an example of a typical Ehrlich table, identical to our kitchen dining table. It’s also almost identical to the desk I am using right now, but the desk has C-shaped, cantilevered supports rather than the I-shaped ones shown.)

    Ehrlich is an interesting guy – he went to Yale a couple of years early, dropped out and joined the army, became a Green Beret active in Laos, (he spoke Hmong and later his woodworkers were mostly Hmong), went back to Yale and finished his architecture degree. I believe he also was an oenophile, but I don’t think the wine critic is the same guy – the one I’m talking about was (at least in the late ’80s) a shortish, slightly pot-bellied Jewish guy with one leg a little shorter than the other, born in about the late’40s, (great?)-grandson of the the Nobelist Ehrlich who invented salvarsan, drove a Alfa Romeo Spider.

    Anybody who knows anything about what happened to him, his family or business, please comment.

  8. I bought a Murphy-style bed in Santa Fe and folded it up in the morning so I could use the home-office desk. Can you buy a Murphy bed today that is similarly not built into the wall? They are great for saving space!

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