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SKYPAD Living - February 2017

01 Feb 2017

Modular means flexible vertical living

By Janette Corcoran

There is no time like the summer holidays to test our design ingenuity as we organise and reorganise our compact apartments to accommodate hordes of visiting friends and relations (e.g. Christmas dinner for 15 at my place?).

As summer also sees our local unis enjoying a break, I looked to see what students on the other side of the world could contribute to our “vertical” entertaining challenges.

One who is shedding new light (literally) is James Vanderpant who hails from the University of Brighton. Perhaps taking inspiration from the long dark days of the northern hemisphere, James’s final year (studying product design) saw him develop a modular lighting system.

James’s story is that, while displaying his final year project in a student exhibition, it was noticed by a businessman who subsequently partnered with James. A Kickstarter campaign ensued which saw 1008 backers pledge £128,931 (about A$211,000) to bring this project to life.

Called Helios Touch, it comprises a series of small, moveable hexagon panels that are activated, as the name suggests, through touch. Each panel can be turned on and off independently, meaning that the level of lighting can be adjusted to suit the task at hand. So if you need more light for your craft activities, touch all the panels, but if your guests would like more ambient lighting, then swipe to turn a few panels off. Magnets located on each panel’s edge allow them to be pieced together into any honeycomb pattern that appeals.

Helios Touch is not alone in bringing the benefits of modularity to apartment living, as can be seen in the recent viral video featuring the EverBlocks System.

Comprising essentially of a range of oversized plastic blocks, they can be used – just like their smaller cousins – to construct all types of objects without the need for tools, glue or heavy equipment. According to EverBlocks, its uses include modular room dividers, interlocking partitions, temporary and permanent enclosures, windscreens, visual blockers and architectural accent walls.

The appearance of these blocks seems particularly well suited to newer apartment buildings and those liking a funky vibe.

Also, the temporary and mobile nature of EverBlocks may be particularly appealing to those renting, as the blocks “do no harm” to apartment walls and can subsequently be disassembled and relocated, along with everything else, when the lease is finished.

But the real kicker is their reconfigurable nature. Because they are literally building blocks, their versatility means you can take them apart anytime to construct something different – move your wall’s location, change its size and/or appearance and/or take out a few blocks and create occasional furniture (like guest stools!).

Returning to our entertaining challenge, these blocks could be used day-to-day as a dividing wall to screen off your utilities room – but then when friends and relations visit en masse and additional space is needed, the wall can simply be moved further back or, more radically, dismantled and the same blocks used to make a serving bar for the day, a play pen for little guests or some much needed additional seating (just add a bit of cushioning!).

The key appeal of both Helios Touch and EverBlocks is that they are modular and moveable, meaning that these products can be tailored by the user and, in fact, they could be quite interesting as companion products.

As regards vertical living, this ability to separate and recombine individual components in new ways (without taking additional space) seems well suited to our high-rise lifestyle.

Next month this column will return to our own shores to see what our well-rested university sector can offer for the betterment of our vertical lifestyles. In the meantime, if you would like links to the organisations mentioned, please visit and like SkyPad Living on Facebook.

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