A wire-free new world

Interactive furniture with concealed cabling is the hot trend for switched-on homes
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The Independent Online

High-tech electronics play a key part in today's fast-track lifestyles. But if you don't want your home to rival spaghetti junction what do you do with all the wires, transformers and ugly microprocessor units? The solution, according to designers and manufacturers, is to conceal all the cabling and other electronic gubbins inside the furniture itself.

High-tech electronics play a key part in today's fast-track lifestyles. But if you don't want your home to rival spaghetti junction what do you do with all the wires, transformers and ugly microprocessor units? The solution, according to designers and manufacturers, is to conceal all the cabling and other electronic gubbins inside the furniture itself.

If you haven't heard of Powerdesk you soon will. It's a company that integrates state-of-the-art technology with stylish furniture designs. Over the last few years it has supplied clever concepts to luxury hotels. But now it has collaborated with DuPont Corian (famous for its solid, seamless work-surfaces) to produce the Iceberg - a free-standing domestic kitchen unit with an integrated personal computer.

The design is unique in having the CD/DVD drive and controls built into its slim Corian work-top. The result is a sleek island unit that's free from trailing wires or visible microprocessor. You can sit or stand to operate the cordless keyboard and mouse that live inside a fold-down drawer. The flat-screen surround is available in 70 colours to co-ordinate with the unit. Incorporating your existing PC within a unit is also a possibility.

With prices starting from £1,800, the Iceberg's cost is equivalent to buying a new laptop. So what are the advantages? "It's user-friendly and integrates stylishly into a home environment," says Powerdesk's David Gilbert. "The computer's mechanics are invisible yet can be upgraded, unlike most laptops. It's easy to monitor if children are using it and the integrated CD/DVD player gives it a sociable focus."

Gilbert is convinced that intelligent furniture is the face of the future. So much so that he will launch further designs next year including the slimline Cortina desk whose Corian worktop supports a fully integrated PC with wire-less controls. Also in the pipeline is the Milano coffee table whose wrap-around Corian top embraces a fully integrated PC and DVD system with wire-less controls. This can be linked to a flat-screen monitor or your audio- visual system.

If you prefer downloading your e-mails in more comfort, then check out Philippe Starck's Lazy Working Sofa (£4,153 from Geoffrey Drayton). Produced by Cassina, it has an integrated electric power point and phone socket in the back plus inter nal cabling for lamps on the two side-rests. A matching cabled armchair is also available. Or sprawl on the DS-152 lounger, designed by Jane Worthington for de Sede. This oval upholstered pod has a metal frame that supports a glass-top table and a flat-screen monitor for watching television, videos or DVDs. It costs £4,527 from Chaplins.

Starck's new Music Image Sofa System (MISS) doubles as a complete home theatre. speakers and a sub-woofer are concealed within the upholstery while a sleek cabinet is designed to house an A/V system, further speakers and a screen (electronic appliances aren't supplied but the in-sofa speakers will work with any system). The cabinet doors act as a screen when using the (optional) touch-control projector that pops up from a compartment behind the sofa. Sofas start from £3,707 and cabinets from £2,667, excluding appliances, at Geoffrey Drayton.

If you can't be parted from your laptop - even in bed - have a look at Philippe Starck's Sleepy Working Bed. A desk/shelf at the back conceals a modem/phone point and two light sockets. A pair of Starck-designed Flos lamps can be used on the bedside tables with a further touch-sensitive lamp on the desk/shelf. All the cabling to the mains supply is concealed. The bed, with all these accessories, costs from £3,889 at Geoffrey Drayton.

Press a remote control device and the true worth of Mayflower Design's smart leather Chicago bed is revealed. A flap in the foot panel opens and a slim 22in wide Sharp Aquos LCD TV gently rises to eye-level. The remote control also raises the mattress to support your back while watching TV (each side of the bed operates independently) along with the foot area. All the devices wired into the TV - satellite digibox, DVD and VCR players - are concealed on a shelf below the bed. It's made to order in any size required and costs from £9,790 (5ft) to £9,990 (6ft).

Just as interactive is the Home-Cinema bed from Chaplins whose remote control-operated screen rises from the footboard. Cables and fittings are hidden within the bed while the projector is integrated between the dual upholstered head- boards. What cost a multi-media bed? Around £10,000. It' a brave new wire-free world.

www.chaplins.co.uk, 020-8421 1779

020-7387 5840

www.mayflowerdesigns.com, 01621 851987

www.powerdesk.com, 0800 0281357

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