First Click: Tiny homes are just gadgets for grownups

July 16th, 2015


I just bought a shovel with plans to stuff my family of five into a shipping container. Uh, I'd better clarify that.

I’m thinking about buying a little semi-permanent beach house for the summers, aka, a tiny home. An architectural trend that’s hotter than it should be as millennials look to simplify their lives and scale back their carbon footprints.

Packing five beds, a kitchen, toilet, shower, and table and chairs into a 30-feet long by 10-feet wide box is forcing me to consider every inch of space, bottom-to-top and side-to-side. To focus on what’s truly required. The essential. And that’s where the fun begins.

One of the companies having the most fun in multifunction furniture is Clei. Just look at this Clei kitchen:

Clei kitchen

And this Clei bed:

Clei bed

Tiny homes are like smartphones. Taken as a whole, both can be life changing, but both require compromises. If you were to buy a dedicated camera you wouldn’t buy the shooter inside the iPhone 6 Plus. You also wouldn’t buy its mic for a recording studio, or its display and speaker for your home entertainment center. But together, each is perfectly optimized into the space available and the price and experience desired. And like the furniture inside a tiny home, each smartphone component serves dual or treble purposes (like the LED used for photo flashes, message notifications, or a flashlight at night). That’s the same thinking that goes into designing a tiny home. And like the smartphone, tiny homes are a gadget lover’s dream.

Muji’s taken the home-as-a-gadget idea to the extreme by selling made-to-order homes in Japan. If you have the means and the land, you can adapt one of three designs to your needs.

But I prefer the challenge of a crude shipping container. The space constraints force some inspired, outside-of-the-box thinking that requires creativity and invention. Besides, I’d love to live inside of a gadget if only for the weekends this summer.

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  3. Ellen Pao is just hanging out on Reddit now

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