Smart Spaces: How Sugatsune Is Innovating in Small Spaces Design
“Smart spaces” are a way of thinking about the optimization of small living spaces for a better quality of life. Small spaces design is often approached simply by downscaling existing conventions, and this doesn’t really work. It makes domestic life much more oppressive than it needs to be, and far less efficient and more time-wasting than it could be.
In all my years, I never thought about living in a small home. Rather, I always aspired to have a tremendously large house. I honestly thought everyone in the U.S. felt this way. Being of Japanese descent, I looked at small living areas as something that people in Japan did, but in the U.S., with the vast amount of land space and TV shows like MTV Cribs, no way. Fast forward to 2020 and there is a different picture. Putting aside economic constraints, there is still a growing demand for smaller homes. From seeing our parents retire and downsize for what they call being more practical, to an even larger impact made by younger generations who are moving towards urban living, it is happening. With this trend comes a reemergence of longstanding challenges in small spaces design. So, sure enough: Smart spaces are back in the conversation!
According to Zillow, the median square footage of single-family homes will fall for the fourth time in five years as the largest share of potential homebuyers in 2020; the Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) will continue to desire a lifestyle of convenience and will demand smart spaces in their homes, creating opportunities for developers who anticipate this in their small spaces design choices. Though more likely driven by economic factors, the National Association of Home Builders reported last year that the average footage for new single-family homes fell to 2,464 square feet from more than 2,700 square feet in 2015. Is the suburban dream a thing of the past? I don’t know, but there has been an uptick in inquiries coming from architects and designers looking for solutions like our lateral door opening systems and closet organization hardware to add functionality in smaller spaces. Think about this year alone and how some of our “larger” homes, seem to have gotten much smaller. This creates a need for small spaces to become smart spaces, because otherwise living in them can be quite difficult and even demoralizing.
With most schools going virtual for at least the rest of 2020, we have had to rethink the layout and function of our home. The idea of smart spaces is a good place to start. For many of us, setting up a classroom at home can be a challenge, but thinking smart can make a world of difference in improving the functionality of a space. Recently, we worked with a designer who was developing a space for her 8-year-old daughter. She had some intricate plans to create storage so she could convert half of the bedroom into a classroom—a great demonstration of designing smart spaces. At the end of the day, she used Sugatsune’s PXB-GR05 hooks that not only simplified her project, but also allowed her to complete it before the first day of school. The innovative PXB-GR05 was inspired by the color-themed series best known in the U.S. as the Power Rangers. The colors of each ranger served as the idea to design silicone rubber sleeves available in six different colors to fit over the hook. Great for personalization of a space and even better for providing safety by eliminating any hard or sharp edges.
You can see how the idea of smart spaces extends beyond logistical efficiency to include things like safety as well. How many times have you scraped yourself against a sharp corner or a protruding knob? Often enough that, after listening to our customers, we have developed products whose protruding parts such as knobs can be recessed, and we offer many hardware options that are free of sharp edges and corners. This is small spaces design innovation at work.
In recent years, one distinct trend that we have seen in design is the need for enhanced utility—another key area of concern when designing smart spaces. Like the designer above, we have found that when you study people living their daily lives, you see how important storage is, but you also find that in many situations, something as simple as a hook is the most convenient solution. One silver lining to this pandemic is that I have been spending more time with my wife and kids, especially my daughter. One thing that I have thought about, but never have I had enough time to really observe and understand, is how convenient yet inconvenient their purses are. Everywhere we go it’s a constant struggle to find a place to set them down. Whether it is to pay for groceries, visit the doctor, or even simply sit down at a restaurant. Just 6 months ago, I remember their purses sitting on the floor next to them or placed on the empty seat next to them. But now, amidst the threat of COVID-19, it’s become an adventure to watch them locate the best place to set them down. Well-designed smart spaces anticipate challenges like these! We’ve always recommended to furniture makers, restaurant owners, and designers to specify hooks into their designs for purses, both for small spaces design efficiencies and for general utility even in larger settings. Now it seems like, with everything going on, it should become a requirement.
It got me thinking about all of the things we used to do like go to Las Vegas. I don’t recall hooks on slot machines or at many of the tables. Go to see a play or move in a theater, no hooks there either. Sporting events? Forget about it. These are pretty smart spaces, but they are not perfect and have room to improve. Fortunately, the inquiries for under-mount hooks have increased, but even better is that we are seeing more traction with our new recessed mounted hooks like the NF-60D. This hook is a modern hook solution that is spring-loaded so that it automatically retracts and soft-closes into a safe and flush position. Imagine this incorporated into the back of seats in a theater or on a slot machine, no more purses touching the floor or where other people have sat.
Since 1930, Sugatsune has developed hooks as one of their core products and has one of the — if not the largest — lineup of hooks by a single manufacturer. To learn more about how our products can help you to overcome small space design challenges and create smart spaces, be sure to visit us at www.sugastune.com or call one of our specialists at (800) 562-5267 to help you find the right solution to your space planning challenges.
VP of Sales and Marketing, Sugastune America