NINExNINE in a nutshell
Nine by Nine is a furniture system designed specifically for sub-100sq/ft furnished rental apartments. It consists of a desk, two wardrobe units with two removable stand-alone drawers each, and a multi-purpose sidetable. Everything is made to be as visually open and light as possible, while still being durable enough to withstand multiple tenancies. The system is flat-packable, inexpensive to produce, and uses locally sourced fir.
details of NINExNINE
81 square feet is a small place to live, and a challenging space for which to design a furniture system. In downtown Vancouver, where rent and space is at a premium, the client with whom we worked has repurposed old buildings to create single occupant dwellings. These apartments have a sink station, and nothing else. The developers wanted to make these rooms more livable in order to increase the average length of stay, which is currently only 3 months. Their constraints: a permanent, durable system (no MDF allowed) and it had to come in under $500CAD.
When working with a 9 foot by 9 foot room, almost everything seems to take up a lot of space, so visual lightness was a priority for us. The minimalist aesthetic of this system was also key in our approach to encourage “nesting” or longer tenancies. The system should have its own beauty, but ultimately should compliment the user’s belongings rather than overshadow them.
The room’s dimensions led us to trade outward depth for width and height. We wanted to keep the space around the upper body (from 3-6ft off the ground) as open as possible.
Our approach was to use wireframe-style construction to open up the room wherever possible instead of closed in panels. When flat panels were needed, we used bent steel for its low visual profile. By orienting the hanger rack so that the clothes face the user instead of the conventional method, the wardrobe unit can be pared down to 12 inches deep, taking up less of a footprint into the room. One of the four beams has been removed so hanging clothes are more easily accessed. Even reducing visual clutter helps make a room seem bigger, so we included a cable well behind the desk so the user can keep important things on the desk and power cords out of sight.
Modularity and multifunctionality are really important when designing a system for an entire apartment building in order to keep costs down. Keeping this in mind, we designed drawers that fit in the wardrobe units, but are just as easily used as stand alone storage. The side table can also be used in other orientations as a magazine rack or umbrella stand.
The colour scheme was carefully considered from different viewpoints. Since this is a system for furnished apartments, maintenance should be kept to a minimum, and easy to do. All the sheet metal parts are powder coated for durability, and have a darker (but not black) colour to keep dirt from showing. The one colour accented piece, the orange sidetable, was included to add some playfulness into the collection. The fir beams are the part most susceptible to getting dented and scratched, and were painted a light grey that is visually light, and can be touched up easily. the birch ply surfaces were left with a clear finish to add a warm, natural component.
Sustainability was a priority during this project. Locally sourced Fir was used for the wooden beams. The wardrobe and desk can be flatpacked and assembled on site to reduce the costs and carbon footprint that come with shipping.