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BoxShelves / Flipspace

flat-packable, no assembly required, durable storage boxes that can also be used for shelving, cabinetry, & furniture.

Project notes - Tim McCormick
tim@tmccormick.org, https://tmccormick.org.

Last edited: 18 December 2021.
Document started: October 2016
Short link to this doc:
boxshelves.tmccormick.org

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CONTENTS
(to go to section, click on section name, then on link that appears below it).

1. Design brief/idea        2

2. Principles & motivations        3

a. most furniture & cabinetry tends to be non-adaptive        3

b. most people don't like or don't at all do assembling        3

c. moving tends to be disruptive, even traumatic, so simplify it.        4

d. Difficulty of moving/changing goes up exponentially with object size & variability        4

2. Prototype 1 photos & explanation        4

3. Flexible/fabric hinges
-----------
        8

4. Most Recent Notes        18

Dec 15, 2021 - transporting via "pallet service"

5. Precedents / models / competitors        18

Portable library boxes/shelves: 16thC-18thC        18

‪British "Campaign Furniture": 18th-19thC        19

Barrister's bookcase‬s - 19th-20thC        23

Storagewall (George Nelson, 1944)        27

Eames Storage Unit (ESU; 1949-55)        30

Ideas from hypertext inventor T.H. Nelson        31

Papanek, Nomadic Furniture        32

Toolbox systems (Bosch, etc)        33

IKEA storage systems        34

BrickBox (ca. 2018)        34

Other modular shelving/storage systems        34

Ori robotic wall systems        35

6. Initial design sketches        37

7. Boxlet materials options, OSB prototype        44

8. BoxCouch        45

9. Name/brand ideas        52

10. Bibliography / works cited        52

1. Design brief/idea

Make a big batch of wooden storage boxes that can also serve as bookshelves. Instead of packing and unpacking and repeatedly buying these cardboard boxes every few times I move the thousands of books in my library. Sort of like how milk crates often get used, but thinking about how to be more versatile and better presentation quality.

Phase/elaboration 2:  extend the idea into a system of modular units that are designed to fit together in many different ways flexibly. This could be good for easily, cheaply, & flexibly doing interior work for a tiny house or other spaces.

The idea is it's modular, so they use common outside dimensions of 1 foot or 6 inches, and you can put them together in all different ways and rearrange them. Also it's the same material and many of the pieces are the same size, across different unit types, so it may be relatively efficient to make a lot of these just by cutting down sheets of plywood (or other wood). Then, they can be finished in different ways like unfinished or varnished or painted, or possibly with different qualities of wood.

Also the boxes could have different facings:

2. Principles & motivations

BoxShelves derives substantially from long, lived experience in moving a lot of my own stuff between a few dozen dwellings over 30 years, and also between dwellings and the storage units I've usually had across those years.  

Also, often helping other people move -- professionally so, for stretches, in 2019-20 -- and doing a lot of furniture assembly and installation for others and for clients, 2019-20.

a. most furniture & cabinetry tends to be non-adaptive

Changing your space usually involves LARGE steps, like moving or replacing an entire bookshelf; or worse, having to do complete makeover as with typical kitchen cabinetry, usually a costly endeavour.

Since there aren't usually good incremental or obvious steps, people tend not to adapt their space configurations. Stuff piles up, arrangements don't work well, usually we just put up with it, but it can steadily create stress, frustration, distraction, and dysfunction.

b. most people don't like or don't at all do assembling

Even the simplest shelves or racks that require any assembly, such as you might typically get at Target or IKEA, are to many people dreaded, a headache, stressful. It's another job to deal with, put off, get wrong.

Also, much self-assembled furniture (referred to in the trade as RTA, Ready To Assemble) is typically made to be assembled only once. It's often quite difficult, sometimes almost impossible to disassemble it for reuse, and manufacturers seem to often not expect this or design for it.

Built-in work, such as kitchen cabinetry, is generally done for one-time use.

One-time use tends to lead to a lot of waste -- and often flimsier, lower-quality materials/products because long life, reusability, and/or transportability aren't expected. It also means that furniture usually doesn't have much adaptivity.

Now, imagine by contrast, storage/shelf/cabinet units which come in a form that just needs unfolding, which you can see and do in the store, and they're relatively simple and modular (similar units, stack or fit together). This also tends to mean, it doesn't need much packaging, and you can see what you're getting.

Appealing, right? At the store, pick up another BoxShelf, you can maybe even use it to carry the rest of your stuff back home.

c. moving tends to be disruptive, even traumatic, so simplify it.

I've seen so much grief, stress, and mess in people moving in, out, or between dwellings. I've seen many moving boxes sitting in living rooms months, even years after a 'move'. Rearranging and adapting, after moving, is often really hard -- stuff tends to stay wherever it landed when you first moved in, often things don't really fit or work in the place they are, people are physically & psychologically exhausted after moving, sometimes long after moving.

This leads to a basic suggestion: minimize the activity and difficulty, and the time & steps involved. One way to do that is by making storage/moving boxes be the same thing as your in-place shelving, cabinetry, furniture.

Imagine packing up, either entirely or just bits at a time -- say to move some stuff to the garage or storage unit -- by simply unstacking or unhooking a part of your interior space, and carrying it away. Or imagine, at the other end, walking in and putting the moved stuff right in the place where it needs to go, without setting up / assembling new furniture, or unpacking from temporary storage boxes.

d. Difficulty of moving/changing goes up exponentially with object size & variability

One big learning from decades of moving experiences is that in moving and space-arranging, the difficulty increases greatly, like non-linearly / asymptotically, as the object size/weight/irregularity increases. And this multiplies across every step of the process.

Conversely, I've found that it's surprisingly easy to move many standardized, known-measurement, easily lifted and grasped objects (e.g. bankers boxes). You can glance at a big stack of them and easily figure out how and where they can be moved to, how long it will take you (or the hired hands) to do it. You can stack them stably on pallets and cheaply move them anywhere in the country using a pick-up pallet transport service, as I did from Portland to Palo Alto once.

In a way, this is re-discovering basic principles of BRICKS. Which keep getting re-learned, re-discovered, in many contexts.  

2. Prototype 1 photos & explanation

first prototype of folding modular storage/shelving, project code name BoxShelf. For adaptable, DIY, & mobile living!  Made with 3/8" ACX plywood from Home Depot.

1.  basic box, 2 feet wide x 1 foot high x 1 foot deep. Shown next to an old barrister's bookcase, various IKEA cabinet modules, & crate.

2. front folds up, so front can be open always or at times. You can have opening forward like a shelf, or turn unit 90° for moving or to use it as box with hinged top lid.

3. back folds down also.
Can fold flat, as below, which I may use for making box adaptable into double-depth cabinet or drawer. (2 feet deep is a typical desk, kitchen counter, and kitchen floor cabinet depth).

4. back can also fold flat under the box.

5. Box can also fold sideways, so it flat-packs!

Folded, it's only 2.5 inches thick (and 1' wide by 3' long). So it's all one piece, can be shipped and sold flat, doesn't need retail packaging, sets up with no assembly other than unfolding it and closing 2 clasps that attach back and keep box square.

7. units can stack, wall mount, suspend, and join to make bookcases, cabinetry, other furniture like tables, desks, etc. But easily taken apart, to rearrange, move, store contents elsewhere, or fold up to store empty.

3. Flexible/fabric hinges

September 2021 - I made and photographed a small model to examine+illustrate how BoxShelf hinges, particularly flexible 'fabric' hinges can work.

[I'll use 'fabric' in this document, to mean some flexible, planar material, which might be some type of cloth, leather, or other material].

Fabric, as opposed to typical metal, hinges, have several potential advantages:

  1. Possibly cheaper in materials cost, and less laborious / more automatable to mount.
  2. Can have the property of being multi-hinged, ie bending or pivoting at more than one point. Metal hinges can do this also, but such hinges are relatively uncommon and expensive.
  3. Might perform other purposes such as covering the exposed endgrain of plywood panels, helping seal gaps between panels at joints, or providing separation or friction between adjoining or stacked BoxShelf units.

The model I made to look at this hinge approach is small and uses 1/2" hard foam to represent box panels. This in effect, greatly exaggerates the relative thickness of the box's sides, relative to their area, for the purpose of looking at how the hinges may work.  

We start with the model representing a BoxShelf in 'shelf' position -- i.e. opening forward -- and with lid closed:

In this view from the side, we see the lid being lifted up, pivoting on a flexible fabric hinge, here modeled with card stock.

In this prototype approach, the fabric hinge attaches to the front of the lid, wraps around top edge of lid (when lid closed), then attaches to one side of the box -- presumably the top.

This a) allows the hinge to turn 270°, allowing the lid to fold back flat against the box as shown below. (Metal hinges often don't turn this far).

Incidentally, this hinge design has a secondary purpose: it allows the lid to hinge away from the box without the front edge of lid moving upwards, as would happen with an ordinary, single-jointed hinge:

This means that if BoxShelves in this configuration are stacked, the lid of one unit can be opened without bumping into the lid above.

Now we look at the back panel of the box (which would be the bottom of the box, if unit is in 'box' position rotated 90° from 'shelf' position).

In the picture below, the BoxShelf model has been flipped onto its side, so the folded-back lid is at back, and the back panel is shown folding out to the right.

[note: the lid shown here extends past the 'box', but that's just an accident of the model being shallow. An actual BoxShelf we expect would be as deep as is high, so the lid wouldn't really extend back further than the box]. 

As the above pictures shows, the back is made to nestle inside the side, top and bottom panels -- unlike the lid, which is the full height and width of the BoxShelf.

This design choice is mainly for the purpose of having the back cross-brace the BoxShelf, i.e. support the BoxShelf from moving laterally (shearing, as illustrated by diagram below) once it it opened and secured.

Below: showing the back panel after being folded out, and folded around all the way to lie flat against the BoxShelf bottom:

Alternately, the back panel can be folded back 90°, but not folded back all the way 270°.

A reason you might want to fold the back panel back only 90°, vs 270°, is to use BoxShelves to create double-depth cabinets or drawers.

A basic BoxShelf is one foot deep, while two feet is a typical depth for a desk, kitchen counter, and kitchen lower cabinet). So you might, as suggested by photograph below, set up a front edge of one or more BoxShelves, with back folded down 90°, and a 2' deep desktop or countertop mounted on top:

Now let's consider the hinges which allow the main part of the BoxShelf, i.e. not lid or back, to fold flat. This is made up of the four panels shown in the lower half of photograph of model below:

Flipping the model on its side, to get a front view looking from front to back of BoxShelf (in 'Shelf' position), we see  

Looking at this more closely, we see the four panels (top, left, right, bottom) are joined by four hinges, two of which are fully inside, two partly outside. I'll call those "inner hinges" and "outer hinges":


With hinges arranged so, the box can fold to flat:

which looks, in a much more realistic prototype, like this:

From my analysis, it looks like there are multiple possible ways to mount/arrange such hinges, which have some different pros and cons. Below is a sketch considering 3 possible ways to do the inner hinges. (My model illustrates inner hinge style #1):

It looks to me like inner hinge type #1 is a) the least visible, being non-visible from outside the BoxShelf, and b) relatively strong against forces pushing a panel inwards.

Type #2, by contrast, is relatively strong against forces pushing a panel outwards.

All forces have to be solved for somehow.

In terms of overall and critical strength, outwards force on or tendency of panels is probably the more important issue, in the case of the BoxShelf being filled, ie a filled bookshelf or storage box.

It would be possible, but somewhat more complicated, to use both type #1 and #2 hinges on a given BoxShelf edge.

In general, I think the biggest structural challenge with BoxShelves is not either of these, but is solving for sheer strength (handling the force as shown below). Particularly, for the case of multiple BoxShelves being stacked and/or contiguous.  

4. Most Recent Notes

Dec 15, 2021 - transporting via "pallet service"

As a longtime, semi-professional housesitter & nomad, I've come to anticipate what I call the "one hour coffee": the hour+ it seems to take to make the first cup of coffee, or do other seemingly ordinary thing, in a new house, because the place lacks or you can't find or have to adjust to your unadmittedly peculiar liking, some seemingly basic thing.

For such reasons, I now like to arrive equipped with and set up a #boxshelf or two of my own full coffee set-up, pans and basic cook/kitchenware & cooking basics, whole pepper & grinder, silverware, beer glass, radio/speaker, maybe bedding.

on the topic & life strategy of moving regularly, & inhabiting easily with low impact or fuss, BOXSHELVES aka Flipspace project as I mentioned employing (https://boxshelves.tmccormick.org)  is all about this. One of my various long-simmering or elliptically-orbiting projects which true fans (hello? hello? /tap tap/ is this thing on) may have glimpsed over the years.

As a mobility & adaptation strategy, one might "move house" by, moving the house — as I'm working on regarding current Portland legislation Residential Infill Project Part 2 — or, more commonly, you can move house components more easily.

Boxshelves are study, modular, stackable/assemblable but also foldable/flat-packable boxes, which can form cabinetry, shelves, also desks, storage walls, sofas, etc.

Lately I've been considering the angle that an efficient & low-cost way to move one's stuff, which Boxshelves would work great for, is to stack and wrap on a standard 4x4' shipping pallet. There's a system in US and probably most countries whereby you can easily, quickly, arrange pickup & transport of these to anywhere else — shippers use it to fill excess space in trucks & containers, and pick up high-margin extra revenue. I think sometimes, olden days, called 'breakfreight'.

In many cases, such "pallet service" may be the cheapest and easiest way to move stuff, on an individual or household scale. So I found, at least, in moving my [seemingly nomad-inappropriate, many-thousand volumes] book library between states multiple times, finding pallet service easier & cheaper than eg self or contracted moving, package shipping, or any other option. Worked great!

SO, one might think of one's house as a set of (perhaps #Boxshelves-ed) components you can break down, relocate, and reassemble into place. Where the 'boxes' themselves can serve as interior structure & furniture.

Dec 08, 2021

https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/simple-box-shelves/

To do: add footers to doc

Sept 13, 2021

added discussion of Charles & Ray Eames' "Eames Storage Unit" systems, 1949-54.

built model to examine & illustrate fabric hinges approach.
Photographed model, added photos and explanation to new section 3, "Flexible fabric hinges.

Dec 2020

added notes on the "storage wall" product designed by George Nelson.
Rearranged and edited document.

Dec 2019

fabric/flexible hinges!

this might be how to do hinging more easily & cheaply, also help address the offsets created by typical metal hinges. (i.e. they may not fold fully flat, take up volume unless inset into the planes joined).

"Unit furniture" - term for modular furniture.

5. Precedents / models / competitors

Portable library boxes/shelves: 16thC-18thC

e.g. as seen as Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo, aka Mission Carmel, in Carmel, California.

Exhibited there is what you could call California's first library - the traveling, unfolding library box/shelves brought by Spanish missionaries.

‪British "Campaign Furniture": 18th-19thC

see photo album "British Campaign Furniture", which is photos of this book:

Brawer, Nicholas A. (2001). British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvas, 1740-1914.

"For Great Britain's gentlemen soldiers stationed in India, Africa, the South Seas, and North America, campaign furniture brought the comfort and civility of home to “life under canvas.” Collapsible and compact, made to be carried on the march and assembled on site, these folding chairs, desks, and cots—used by armies since ancient times—reached an aesthetic apex in 18th- and 19th-century England. To convey their social status, gentleman soldiers stationed abroad ordered entire suites of the ingeniously designed, elaborately styled, fold-up furnishings, and manufacturers such as Chippendale, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite furiously competed for commissions. In the first-ever book on the subject, Nicholas A. Brawer meticulously details this fascinating merger of commerce and craftsmanship."


Barrister's bookcase‬s - 19th-20thC

sometimes also known as "lawyers' bookcases" in the U.S.

Often considered the first widespread example of "unit furniture" - a term for modular furniture.

(on left in this picture. This is one unit, without the cap piece, and the glass frame hinged front pulled up. Other IKEA cabinets and crates in background).

My parents had a stack of three of these barrister's bookcases, they got (cheaply, they said) at an antique/charity place in Portland in early '70s, back when these were being widely decommissioned and fairly easily available. So I've been seeing and occasionally using them throughout my life.

In [July?] 2019 I had a housesitting job at place with a stack of them, and I took the opportunity to examine them closely - base, shelf, and cap pieces, the ingenious hinge and 'scissor' alignment mechanism (described below), and all. These were early 20thC authentic Globe Wernicke pieces.

The photos illustrates that they are not strictly cellular, i.e. self-contained, but designed to be topped with either another unit or a cap piece. Which is a smart way to economize structure, materials, and space.

Background

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookcase#Barrister.27s_bookcase‬:

"‪A barrister requires the use of many law books and would formerly travel on circuit with a judge's court. A specialised form of portable bookcase has thus been developed to meet their needs. A barrister's bookcase consists of several separate shelf units that may be stacked together to form a cabinet. An additional plinth and hood complete the piece. When moving chambers, each shelf is carried separately without needing to remove its contents and becomes a carrying-case full of books.‬

"‪As most high-quality bookcases are closed by doors, but also to retain the books when being carried, a barrister's bookcase has glazed doors. As the shelves must still separate it's not possible to provide the usual hinged doors opening sideways and so instead they use an "up and over" mechanism on each shelf. The better quality cases use a metal scissor mechanism inside the shelves to ensure that the doors move in a parallel fashion without skewing and jamming. Many of this style, exported worldwide, were made by the Skandia Furniture Co. of Rockford, Illinois around the beginning of the 20th century.

"‪This style of bookcase was either made in a Dickensian period, or harkens back to the style of such times, so they're most commonly glazed with a leaded light and small panes of glass.‬

‪"Each shelf of a true barrister's bookcase must be portable with a heavy load of books. The more robust examples have folding handles at the ends of each shelf. Modern "decorator" copies of these may look the same, but are often too lightly constructed to be carried whilst loaded, or may even be simply a single fixed case as per a normal bookcase, but with separate doors to each shelf to give the appearance of a barrister's bookcase.‬"

"‪GLOBE WERNICKE BOOKCASE‬

‪Antique Bookcases, Antique Cabinet Makers‬"
January 21, 2014, Updated: May 9, 2019‬
https://antiquesworld.co.uk/globe-wernicke-bookcase/‬

Antique Globe-Wernicke Edwardian Oak Bookcase‬
"We sometimes get some very unusual antique bookcases for sale by the manufacturer Globe Wernicke, in oak, mahogany or occasionally walnut called antique Globe Wernicke Bookcases. Globe-Wernicke was first established in 1899 when Otto Wernicke, owner of Wernicke Furniture Co bought the Globe Company. Wernicke also acquired the Fred Macey Co which also made the well known stacking barrister bookcases like the ones we very often have for sale. Globe Wernicke was the main maker and supplier of this type of stacking bookcase until it fell into receivership in 1932 because of the Depression but then it re opened in 1934."

Globe Wernicke had factories building furniture in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Germany. They were very well known for quality and craftsmanship, but mostly known for their stacking book shelves, that can be adapted to fit together to form a bookcase which could either be all of the same measurements or which could be re-arranged by the insertion of units of different depths and heights. They also can have writing sections, glass sections or cupboards that can fit together making your own unique design. If you are interested in Globe Wernicke Bookcases for sale have a look at our bookcase section to see the current models available.‬"

Storagewall (George Nelson, 1944)

as shown in Life magazine cover story, January 22, 1945.

Wood

Custom made in various sizes

"Nelson developed the Storagewall concept for the book Tomorrow's House, which he wrote with Henry Wright. The Storagewall was introduced in the chapter 'Organized Storage.' Even before the publication of the book, Life dedicated a title story to the wall, and had a freely standing version of the wall built. In addition, a Storagewall was installed in a single-family home in New Jersey, as the article reports. Storagewall formed the foundation for Nelson's almost two decades of work on storage furniture and storage systems." [emphasis added -TM].

An unknown number were produced.

1944, George Nelson and Henry Wright

http://www.georgenelsonfoundation.org/george-nelson/works/storagewall-60.html.

Lange, Alexandra. "Your Quarantine Clutter Has a Long and Distinguished History." Curbed, Oct 16, 2020. https://www.curbed.com/2020/10/clutter-untidy-history-quarantine-jen-howard-book.html.

Eames Storage Unit (ESU; 1949-55)

"Following the trauma of World War II, American architects and designers began to explore new ways of living and reimagined ordinary objects throughout the home in innovative ways. The Eames Storage Unit (ESU), a lightweight system of freestanding cabinets, was promoted as an inexpensive solution to the changing storage and display needs of postwar families. With the end of wartime rationing and a booming economy, Americans were acquiring more goods, and the storage and creative display of their possessions became a significant interest. Constructed of plastic-coated plywood, enameled Masonite, and enameled steel framing, the ESU was an example of Charles and Ray Eames' continuous effort to design and produce economical household furniture using industrial production techniques.

"In designing this system, the Eameses took their cue from the type of metal shelving found in warehouses and factories; no attempt was made to disguise or soften the "nuts and bolts" vocabulary of its industrial parts. These various components were entirely interchangeable and could be easily combined into almost limitless configurations to suit the desires of the consumer; whether in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, or anywhere else. The units were available in single and double widths—in the 100 (one unit high), 200 (two units high) and 400 (four units high)—as well as desks."

"The Herman Miller Furniture Company began marketing the Eames Storage Units in 1950. The first-edition cabinets were originally sold as a knockdown product, requiring customers to screw and bolt the parts together. Assembly tended to be laborious, and Herman Miller later offered the storage units fully assembled around 1952. A new and stronger leg with a triangular support replaced the earlier light-gauge legs of the initial knockdown version, which occasionally buckled when mishandled in shipping. Production of the ESU ended in 1955." [Alfred 2019]. [bold emphasis added by TM].

Comment on Twitter by Tim McCormick to Alexandra Lange (who'd reposted [Lange 2015] in response to Brooklyn Museum Bot tweeting their ESU):

"brilliant! the ESU system is edge elements and facings & shelves though, right, so in a sense boxes/volumes are not demountable in themselves? I'm esp intrigued by & prototyping '#BoxShelves' units that are so—a key reason is to be movable, eg in/out of storage, without emptying."

the ESU is currently marketed by Vitra: see https://www.vitra.com/en-es/living/product/details/eames-storage-unit-esu-shelf.

Alfred, Darrin (2019). "Learn More about the Eames Storage Unit." Denver Art Museum, July 8, 2019. https://www.denverartmuseum.org/en/blog/learn-more-about-eames-storage-unit.

Lange, Alexandra (2015). "Serious Fun." ("Taking inspiration from the humble cardboard box, Ray and Charles Eames created toys and furniture to spark the imaginations of kids and grown-ups alike."). Why magazine (from HermanMiller) 2015. https://www.hermanmiller.com/stories/why-magazine/serious-fun/.

Ideas from hypertext inventor T.H. Nelson

"the problem is not simple, and the solution must yet be very simple."

design research / prototyping on modular cabinetry/storage, for my BoxShelf project, looking at various IKEA models and the built-ins at this house. I'm examining the main IKEA systems like Besta, Eket, Luxhult, Elvari, & Algot - what they achieve or don't, pros and cons, prices, how hard to assemble and use, possible ways to combine their useful aspects and interoperate with them, etc.

One way to describe my interest/angle with BoxShelf is to say, the goal is a cabinetry/storage system "for the complex, the changing, and the indeterminate." That is, adapting the subtitle of Theodore H. Nelson's landmark 1965 paper proposing hypertext/web structure, "Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate." T. H. Nelson, 1965, ACM Proceedings‬. https://archive.org/details/nelson-file-structure/page/n4.

That is, I want to enable possibly complex, creative, and evolving uses and lifecycles, using simple reusable storage types. Based on experiences as an installer of IKEA and other furniture, I'd like to make the units flat-packable but require little to no assembly, and be storable & reusable -- e.g. by unfolding to set up, folding back up to store, transport, or sell them.

As Nelson says in a great line from his paper: "I will explain why the problem is not simple, and why the solution must yet be very simple."

20 July.

‪"Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate." T. H. Nelson, 1965, ACM Proceedings‬.

[a foundational paper describing 'hypertext' and underlying internet and Web architecture concepts.

-> BoxShelf: a cabinetry system for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate

Papanek, Nomadic Furniture

a 1970s design/DIY classic, from the internationally renowned designer, educator, theorist, and author of Design for the Real World.

some background: Victor Papanek, "Nomadic Furniture" 1973

See: https://www.core77.com/posts/42562/Nomadic-Furniture-DIY-Designs-from-the-1970s.

Toolbox systems (Bosch, etc)

these are rugged storage/transport boxes made by/for power tool manufacturers. They're designed to accommodate all kinds of tools, in various ways such as tool-specific boxes or via changeable box inserts, and possible sub-containers like for drill bits, accessories, screws, etc.

They are typically designed to stack, and sometimes clasp together, sometimes to nest; and also to fit onto dollies / moving carts, sometimes available as part of system.

This seems to have been pioneered by Bosch, the German foundation-owned tool manufacturer and R&D champion, whose tools I especially like and use (their PS130 cordless hammer drill / driver is a and my handyman and furniture-builder's favorite).

L-BOXX (Bosch, etc)

actual dimensions of the various LBOXXs:
L-BOXX-1) 17.4 x 14.1 x 4.6 outside, 14.9 x 12.3 x 2.8 inside
L-BOXX-2) 17.4 x 14.1 x 5.9 outside, 14.9 x 12.2 x 4.2 inside
L-BOXX-3) 17.4 x 14.1 x 10 outside, 14.9 x 12 x 8.2 inside
L-BOXX-4) 17.4 x 14.1 x 15.3 outside, 14.9 x 11.7 x 13.6 inside

My Bosch 36618-2 Drill (+bits, drills, batteries, etc) fits nicely in the L-BOXX-2.
This is a much better case than the one that came with the drill.
My Bosch JSH180 Jig Saw came in a L-BOXX-2 featuring a "perfect fit" cradle (that's where I was first sold on these boxes).
My Bosch CCS180 Circular Saw (+charger, a few batteries and drill) fits easily inside the L-BOXX-3. The L-BOXX-2 would be a few inches too shallow for the saw itself.

IKEA storage systems

I've spend a fair amount of time studying & building these.

These are quite possibly the most thoroughly developed and [retail] customer-tested storage box/cabinet systems ever. Backed by an extremely sophisticated, global logistics goliath and brand. So whatever you're doing, make sure it's not what IKEA is trying to do, or it's something distinctly different or better in some way, or there's not much commercial hope for it. ("If you come at the King, you best not miss.").

July 2019

IKEA:

Besta system
Eket system
Luxhult
Algot system
Elvari - post system, metal brackets attach to it at midpoint (by depth) to support shelves etc.Algot - wall rail system.

Discuss design of and test notes on IKEA's Besta, Eket, Luxhult, Elvari, Algot systems
Elvari - post system, metal brackets attach to it at midpoint (by depth) to support shelves etc.
Algot - wall rail system.

BrickBox (ca. 2018)

31 July 2019

BrickBox (made in Spain, distributed in US by ModMobili)

Other modular shelving/storage systems

18 July 2019:

‪"9 best modular shelving‬: ‪Invest in storage solutions which adapt to your living space." Riya Patel, The Independent. ‬

Wednesday 3 August 2016.‬

‪https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/house-garden/best-modular-shelving-wall-ikea-a7168781.html‬

Minute Shelf: https://youtu.be/z2_XEnr9vwg
https://www.onthebookshelf.co.uk/2009/07/portable-bookcase.html

http://www.stitch-and-haver.com/kousi-portable-storage-shelf-cube-shelving-bookcase-bookshelf-cubby-organizing-closet-toy-organizer-cabinet-black-with-white-doors-12-cubes-b06zyl264y.html

‪"Why Modular Shelving Is the Best 'Investment Furniture'".‬
‪Samantha Weiss-Hills‬
‪Architectural Digest, Jan 31, 2018‬
‪https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/modular-shelving-is-the-best-investment-furniture‬

Ori robotic wall systems

IKEA Ragnon (partnership with Ori)

https://ikea.today/rognan-robotic-furniture-for-small-space-living/.

‪BrickBox is a versatile modern shelving system composed of boxes that connect to form a unique storage solution. This modular system, inspired by the work of mid-century designers Charles and Ray Eames, easily transforms into a larger storage system without the need for additional assembly.‬

‪Made of white laminated plywood (12mm thick) sourced from European-controlled forests, BrickBox Large arrives flat-packed and assembles in minutes.‬

‪Combine multiple BrickBox Small and BrickBox Large units to create the perfect storage solution for your space. Mix and match Oak and White boxes for a fully-custom look.‬

‪Dimensions‬

‪BrickBox Large Exterior: 21.3"w x 10.6"d x 14.2"h‬
BrickBox Large Interior: 20.3"w x 10"d x 13.2"h‬
BrickBox Large Weight: 9lbs‬
‪BrickBox Large Capacity: 176lbs‬

Large $69.00  ‬

‪BrickBox Small White‬ (1/2 width)
$55.00‬

‪BRICKBOX LARGE ALUMINUM DOOR‬

‪$30.00‬

BrickBox XL modular bookcase. With 3" of extra depth, BrickBox XL shelving units are perfect for storing files, albums and over-sized coffee table books. From stylish media consoles to floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, our BrickBox XL systems make organization easy.
$85

‪Shipping‬:
‪Shipping is free within the contiguous US via FedEx and arrives in approximately five days.‬

‪Accessories‬
Accent your BrickBox system with doors, casters, legs, and shelves. Shop BrickBox Accessories. https://www.modmobili.com/brickbox-large.

6. Initial design sketches

Since book storage and book shelves are a primary intended use for this, at least for the basic box size, I thought about the distribution of typical book sizes and how they efficiently pack and store upright. I've boxed and unboxed and shelved a lot of books moving my library around for so many years.

I also considered what sizes/weights of box are better to carry, to stack, and to fit together with US standard construction dimensions -- used in lumber, building materials, and my Houslets structures.

Basic 2'W x 2'H x 1'D box, and variants:

We could think about composing interior spaces using combinations of the boxlet units, including possibly for seats/stools, desks, cabinets:

7. Boxlet materials options, OSB prototype

I am thinking to initially try using 3/8" plywood:

Sanded Plywood (Common: 11/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.; Actual: 0.322 in.
Model # 577138 Internet #100053860 lo
SKU #577138

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Sanded-Plywood-FSC-Certified-Common-11-32-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Actual-0-322-in-x-48-in-x-96-in-577138/100053860.

$29.33/sheet

I'll first try a simple butt joint, glued and with wood screws, pre-drilling holes.

lIf that isn't satisfactory, I'll consider a lapped joint using planed edges (like that OpenDesk / CNC Router-cut unit ______).  

[alternate prototype: with OSB (standard sheathing: 7/16" thickness:

8. BoxCouch

Idea: couch, usable for sleeping, that is mostly made out of Boxlets units, so that

  1. the volume is maximally used for storage; and
  2. the unit can be easily disassembled and transported; and also possibly reconfigured e.g. increase or decrease couch width.
  3. for example, a BoxCouch might work well as the bed+couch in my Housletswagen car-trailer dwelling unit, like I was doing in set up pictured below:

v.2 sketch:

Here's an alternative version designed for saving space. Instead of 6' span (enough for me to sleep full-length) in between the arm rests, that span is only 4', but the 6" wide arm rests each hinge down to create a 1' extension at same height as couch platform, resulting in a 6' sleeping span. This allows the couch in use to be only 5' rather than 7' wide.

v.1 sketch

Boxcouch - cushions

Lowes - allen + roth Texture Deep Seat Patio Chair Cushion for Deep Seat Chair. (seat+back pair)

Bossima https://www.amazon.com/Bossima-Seat-Set-Spring-Replacement-Cushions/dp/B00U8Q7V3U?tag=allenrothpatiodurniture-20.

Montlake Seat cushion slip cover (no fill included) - 23" x 23" x 5"- $35  https://www.amazon.com/Classic-Accessories-Montlake-Cushion-Heather/dp/B01MYEC9ZI/.

Image result for Classic Accessories Montlake Patio Seat Cushion Slip Cover, Heather Indigo, 23x23x5

Montlake Back Cushion Foam & Slip Cover, Light Charcoal,
25x22x4" Thick [+ other sizes available], comes with foam
$55.00 Amz Prime

https://www.amazon.com/Classic-Accessories-Montlake-Cushion-Charcoal/dp/B01N2BBQW1/.

Upholstery Foam Cushion High Density, 5" H X 24" W X 24" L -FoamTouch
$26.03 Amz Prime
https://www.amazon.com/FoamTouch-Upholstery-Foam-Cushion-Density/dp/B01H2QS4N4/.

x 72" L
$59.99
https://www.amazon.com/FoamTouch-Upholstery-Foam-Cushion-Density/dp/B07193KZNC/.

Target: deep seat cushion
6 inches Th x 24 inches D x 22 inches W
$30
https://www.target.com/p/deep-seat-cushion-solid-threshold-153/-/A-51565477#lnk=sametab&preselect=51487941

Tri Fold Foam Beds 3 x 27 X 75 Inch, Floor Tri-Fold Bed, High Density Foam 1.8 Pounds
Price:        $65.00 & FREE Shipping

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Floor-Tri-Fold-Density-Pounds/dp/B004SOQGVQ/.

KIVIK Sofa IKEA KIVIK is a generous seating series with a soft, deep seat and comfortable support for your back.

Comparison to Ikea Kivik couch

I used to have one of these. It was really nice. One reason I picked it deliberately was that it's long enough between the armrests that I can sleep full-length in that space. The armrests are also low enough that one can rest head or feet on them easily when stretched out, or put a tray or a boxshelf etc there.

For what it is, it's quite well-designed, I appreciated this in assembling, studying, and using it. For example, the fitted but removable (velcro-attached) upholstery is very smart. But I almost never pulled out the couch, and the thing as a whole was a major pain to move or transport, even if you took off the end pieces. Eventually it got abandoned/donated in one of the many chapters of the Troubles. As the saying goes: a rolling stone gathers little furniture, at least non-componentized single-purpose non-BoxShelf type furniture.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S59193681/.


Width: 89 3/4 "
Depth: 37 3/8 "
Height: 32 5/8 "
Seat width: 70 7/8 "
Seat depth: 23 5/8 "
Seat height: 17 3/4 "

9. Name/brand ideas

Flipspace

Swingspace

BoxShelf

10. Bibliography / works cited

Boxshelves image album: (related visual/photographic notes from various sources).

Alfred, Darrin (2019). "Learn More about the Eames Storage Unit." Denver Art Museum, July 8, 2019. https://www.denverartmuseum.org/en/blog/learn-more-about-eames-storage-unit.

Lange, Alexandra (2015). "Serious Fun." ("Taking inspiration from the humble cardboard box, Ray and Charles Eames created toys and furniture to spark the imaginations of kids and grown-ups alike."). Why magazine (from HermanMiller) 2015. https://www.hermanmiller.com/stories/why-magazine/serious-fun/.

Lange, Alexandra. "Your Quarantine Clutter Has a Long and Distinguished History." Curbed, Oct 16, 2020. https://www.curbed.com/2020/10/clutter-untidy-history-quarantine-jen-howard-book.html.

Life magazine. "Storage Wall." (on George Nelson's system). LIFE 22 Jan 1945. https://books.google.ca/books?id=KVMEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&dq=life+magazine+1945+22+jan. (p.63-).

MetroMax thesis project
https://scholarworks.rit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=7205&context=theses.

Nelson, George (1954). Storage. New York: Whitney Publications, 1954. Series: Interiors library, 4.

Nelson, George, and Henry Wright (1945). Tomorrow's house: a complete guide for the home-builder. New York: Simon and Schuster. https://archive.org/details/tomorrowshouseco00nelsrich/.

Nelson, T. H. (1965). "Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate." ACM Proceedings‬. 1965. https://archive.org/details/nelson-file-structure/page/n4. A foundational paper describing 'hypertext' and underlying internet and Web architecture concepts.

Papanek, Victor. Nomadic Furniture. 1973
a 1970s design/DIY classic, from the internationally renowned designer, educator, theorist, and author of Design for the Real World.

‪Patel, Riya. "9 best modular shelving‬: ‪Invest in storage solutions which adapt to your living space." The Independent. ‬3 August 2016.‬
https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/house-garden/best-modular-shelving-wall-ikea-a7168781.html‬.

Weiss-Hills‬, Samantha. "Why Modular Shelving Is the Best 'Investment Furniture'".‬ Architectural Digest, Jan 31, 2018‬. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/modular-shelving-is-the-best-investment-furniture‬.