Each Element Performs Many Functions: Smart Furniture

This photo demonstrates how tiny houses can be made liveable and quite specious. A standard, big-box-store couch has the whopping sum of zero storage. Therefore, your couch serves but one purpose. Usually a place to sit, but maybe also to a place to eat, entertain, and sleep. But the couch remains useful for essentially the same thing: a comfortable place for humans to position their body.

Under couch storage

In permaculture, Mollison proposes the principle that “each element performs many functions”. He believes: “Each element in the system should be chosen and placed so that it performs as many functions as possible”. He goes on: “A pond can be used for irrigation, watering livestock, aquatic crop, and fire control” (Mollison, 2011). I can add to that, a pond can also be used as a place to swim, a source of evaporative cooling, and an object of aesthetic intrigue. To the limited mind a pond may just be a place where the cows drink.

Every aspect of the house can (and should) be looked at on these terms. The pictured couch with storage underneath is a great example of how an element performs many functions. It doesn’t take up space just for comforting humans but also acts as a storage area. It’s a much more effective use of space. In a tiny house, where space is limited, such a design element is vital. But I think this is true of any house. People choose houses to satisfy their needs. People often have a lot of things. They choose their houses with these things, along with other factors, in mind. A big couch requires a big space to put it. Space that costs money and time maintaining it, and heating and cooling it. When thought about on those terms, it makes sense to get a bang for your buck, doesn’t it?

Mollison, B. (2011). “Introduction to Permaculture”. Tagari Publications, Sisters Creek, Tasmania, Australia.