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Entries in small space living (6)


spring favorites: curtis

city slicker mirror side table
love the subtle yet glamorous effect of the smoky reflections.
SAIC cache storage cabinet
clever space saving storage—great for those awkward empty spaces
in a kitchen, bedroom, office,
living room…
chunky white block planter
I have one plant in my home and
he’s about to get an upgrade to this modern yet retro inspired piece.


design collab no.1: the backstory

It was April in 2012, at the Milan Salone, when CB2 was captivated by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Whatnot exhibit. That collection showcased the talented team of professors and students at SAIC—about a 10-minute L train ride from CB2’s merchandising office.

After months of discussions, a 2-semester course for 12 students was envisioned with the end-goal of one product per student creating a collection that would be produced exclusively for CB2. In order to get it on the School’s calendar for students to opt into, the first class started over a year later in the Fall 2013 semester.

The course required two experienced professors—Jim TerMeer and Tim Parsons
a teaching assistant, Carlos Ortega, supplies to realize and prototype concepts, and a lecture series created specifically for the students and presented by CB2’s diverse staff.

The class assignment came from the CB2 Merchandising team, who collaborated with the students and professors just as they do with established designers.

Ryan Turf, Managing Director, and Ali Williams, Senior Director of Business Operations and Strategy, kicked off day 1 talking about what it takes to run a home furnishings brand.

The professors knew time would be tight, so they had assigned homework 3-4 weeks in advance of the first class—students researched statistics and urban migration trends to create a presentation as a way to share fun facts as well as their views on the subject.

Armed with a solid and practical understanding of small space living, they moved to the conceptual side a few weeks later. So as they explored what a snail could teach them about nesting tables and hoarding squirrels inspired expandable storage containers, a true to scale 250sf apartment was created in the classroom from cardboard and sheet foam—complete with a kitchen and bathroom.

Many concepts were sketched and ideas floated, debated, enhanced, critiqued—all were voted on and the best ones moved into the protoyping stage.

Students learned presentation skills each time they met with CB2—from introducing initial concepts to demonstrating how hand-made full-size prototypes could actually work.

Some weeks the CB2 team would visit the school to see how concepts were progressing—other times, the class would meet at the CB2 offices.

Final drawings were delivered at the end of the semester in early December 2013, and they were immediately sent off for sampling with high hopes they would be selected for this Spring 2015 assortment.

While the students enjoyed winter break, factory-made prototypes were being created and a second round was shipped to Chicago—incorporating feedback from CB2’s buyers after their initial review.

Classes resumed at the end of January and the lecture series continued, including conversations on marketing, visual merchandising, catalogs and eCommerce. As soon as the samples arrived, everyone worked fast, furiously and collaboratively to confirm final details so production could get started to meet delivery deadlines.

In the end, each student submitted a concept that became a reality for the Design Collab No.1—space saving furniture and accessories. Textiles which reference the square footage of floor plans, an ultra-thin energy-efficient LED pendant, a room divider with over 200 hooks to store or display, and a jewelry cabinet hidden behind a wall mirror are just a few products from the collection.


how to: live in small spaces

1. Think outside the box when it comes to settling into a small space. Start by asking what are the basics needed to keep you comfortable, functional, and safe—then wonder and research ways to make it work for you.

2. Keep it simple and edit to essentials.

3. When you have minimal floor space, go up! Loft a space if possible, stack hive or other storage units when not.

4. Let the light shine in for an airy, open, free mood—privacy considered, skip the curtains.

5. Choose furniture for maximum function in a minimum amount of space—the alpine bed with a nightstand/shelf integrated into the headboard is a perfect example.

6. When any storage is better than none, a narrow wall-mounted hyde storage unit in ‘dead’ space is sheer genius—bonus is that it also keeps counter-tops free of clutter.

7. Multi-use furniture, like the peekaboo console, can be used as a desk, an entryway landing pad, or a buffet when entertaining.

8. Look for glass top tables or acrylic pieces to reduce visual clutter—like the yield coffee table or the wall mounted format cube.

9. The torino grey side table not only fits into extra-small spaces, the storage drawer is a bonus!

10. Furniture on wheels makes it easier to rearrange small spaces for any event.


setting small outdoor scenes

Think of an urban balcony as a small corner of a larger—outdoor!—room by using one or two big-scale furniture pieces to define its use. Outdoor living is relaxed and leisurely and how better to express that, and use it as such, than with bold playa. The white woven base is visually airy while the wide, platform seating is inviting for long summer reads in sun or shade.

And if floor space is too tight to plant greenery—go up! with titan, pony, or shore polyterrazo planters.


how to: fit the space

Buying large furniture, like a sofa or a bed, is a mix of art and science. The ‘art’ part is usually the fun and easier part: Do you simply love it and does it coordinate with existing pieces? But the ‘science’ part is more calculating: Does it functionally meet your needs? Is the price right? Will it fit in the space—and through all the entryways?

1. For all doors and hallways the item will have to travel thru, measure the heights and widths (A,B) and the entry clearance (C). Don’t forget any other obstacles, such as ceilings, unremovable lighting fixtures, stairwell banisters and tight turns.

2. Make sure that the width of the furniture piece is less than the entry dimensions A or C and the diagonal depth is less than B. Hint: CB2 specs dimensions in this order: width x depth x height. For example, the movie sofa shown above is 88” wide x 40” in depth x 26” high.

3. To determine diagonal depth, place a straight edge from the highest point of the back frame to the front of the piece. Then measure from the bottom rear corner up to the point that bisects the straight edge. Example: The sofa shown below has a diagonal depth of 25.5”.

Think about the idiosyncracies of the space and “live” with a new item before buying. Make sure the opening and closing of doors will clear sofas and that you don’t lose access to windows over bedroom furniture.

To help you decide if the footprint of a piece fits the floor space, try one of these three options:
—sketch the room onto graph paper and include existing pieces that will also be in the room.
—use blue painter’s tape and  mark the floor space using provided dimensions.
—tape newspaper together to create a full-size footprint of the piece, position it in the room, on the floor. Lastly, “build” it in 3-D by placing objects to fill in the height such as plastic storage boxes, etc. 

These suggestions are to be used as a guide to measurement and do not guarantee your furniture purchase will fit. For the smoothest move, consider every scenario and size constraint that may occur from the delivery truck to the item’s final room placement.