German-born Swiss artist and designer Till Koenneker has designed and built from scratch this compact shelving and storage system for his own apartment in Bern, which houses everything from shoes to records to his own guests. The elaborate system works in a similar manner to compact micro-apartments in cities around the world, but can be integrated much more easily into any space without changing the building structure around it. Painted a charmingly-finished black shade while preserving the grooves of the wood beneath, the “Living Cube” is extremely tasteful in its style. It fits stylistically into nearly any living room, and gives a modern touch without becoming a distraction.
Koenneker’s storage system starts at the function of media center, with a large space for a flatscreen TV. To keep it contemporary, the TV area is framed by the artist’s record collection, providing definition to the entertainment-focused side of the Living Cube. On the right side, Koenneker keeps his shoes and jackets, arranged neatly on purpose-built shelving and racks. Around the side, a door leads to a much larger closet within the prism, eliminating the need for much closet space elsewhere in the apartment. Climbing the ladder up top reveals a guest bed, positioned just right for views out the window. All of these different tasks are combined neatly into a single, nicely-sized unit that fits the apartment well.
Inside the Living Cube, Koenneker has installed a number of purely functional shelves and other storage solutions to be able to create what is a rarity in most apartments: a walk-in closet. While it may seem cramped, there is much more storage space packed into this little room than many apartments have in all their closets combined, and it allows the owner freedom from clutter as well as freedom from the fear of having too many possessions to fit in one small flat.
The modern artist’s large vinyl record collection is key to defining the media area, arranged in a square around the television. It encircles the half of the Living Cube’s facade that is dedicated to leisure time, effectively separating that half from the closet-type bank of shelves next to it.
Though it may seem at first to be odd, the guest bed on top of the storage unit presents another case of an amenity that most small apartments lack, and Koenneker’s design has it thought through very well. The bed is positioned to catch the rays of the morning sun and to provide views out the window all day long, as well as being literally on top of ample storage for any luggage a guest could bring.
The wood finish is both classy and very serviceable, avoiding a piano finish that would scratch and smudge easily and preferring instead a light coat over the woodgrain. This solution is both rugged and elegant, fitting the purpose of the Living Cube as both a functional storage unit and a piece of modern art.