You Can Use AR to Deck Your Home With Custom Furniture
I need a new dining room table, and finding one isn’t going to be easy. See, I don’t have a dining room. My home is an apartment in a former tenement building in New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood, and extra square footage is not one of its charms. There is, however, a lovely 117-by-79 centimeter nook that needs furnishing. Seeing as that’s not exactly regulation dining room table size, I’ll probably need a custom design.
Pretty soon, I’ll have the option to get my oddly sized dining room table through an app, courtesy of a new company called Tylko. The young, Warsaw-based furniture brand launched this week at London Design Fair, and it’s as much a design company as it is a technology startup. Tylko makes products ranging from tables to shelves to pepper grinders, but their marquee product is their aforementioned app. The idea is that shoppers can use it to not only customize the style and dimensions of a piece of furniture but actually visualize that furniture in their homes, with augmented reality.
Tylko’s app upends a few of our expectations when it comes to buying furniture. “The furniture world hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years,” says Yves Béhar, who is an advisor to Tylko and designed the Hub table for its inaugural line. “You go into a store, bring in measurements, hope that things will fit and look right in your apartment, wait a few months for something to ship from very far away, and you still have very limited amounts of choices.” There’s a handful of other design upstarts that are also tired of that model. Campaign and Greycork, for instance, are tackling the problem from a packing and shipping perspective, by offering attractive, easy-to-assemble furniture that ships to your door. Tylko approaches things a little differently, breaking the mold by giving its shoppers what Béhar calls “adaptable authorship.” By using the company’s app, in other words, you become a sort of co-designer.
Here’s how: Let’s say you wanted Béhar’s Hub Table for your home office. Béhar has already crafted the basic table template, which has rounded corners and is billed on the Tylko site as a “rigid, highly practical piece of furniture.” In the app, or on the desktop platform, a render of the desk appears next to a legend with a sliding scales for dimensional features like width and length, which correspond to the table leg design. Another scale, called “motion,” adjusts how knobby or streamlined the legs will be, and allows for aesthetic input.
As you adjust the scales to your liking, Tylko’s engine uses parametric modeling to adjust the design and price in real time. You can even see how it will look in your office through the app’s augmented reality capabilities. (Ikea offers a similar service with its Ikea Catalog app, which lets users imagine the newest collections in their home through AR.) Once you’ve settled on the right size and finish, Tylko’s platform converts your design into data and sends it to the appropriate manufacturing partner. This is only logical, says Benjamin Kuna, one of Tylko’s founders. “The furniture industry is on route to digitization,” he says. “The factories are already digitized. They all use CNC machines that you can feed with any data you want. So producing a bespoke piece of furniture is no longer a problem.” Consumers just need a vehicle to make it happen.
Tylko is not, Béhar points out, a DIY free-for-all. To save shoppers from themselves, the app has built-in limitations that prevent customers from ordering furniture with structural or engineering problems. The creations also need to look good and feel good. All the products offered will come from bonafide designers that the company partners with. “The integrity of it has to come across,” Béhar says. “This isn’t just 3-D printing something in some sort of plastic.”