Here's hoping the furniture of the future will be as awesomely interactive as this Post-it note desk.
When you're a kid, surfaces are made to be doodled on. Walls are crayon-canvases; wooden tables seem naked without some colorful finger paint prettying them up. It takes a while -- from parents' perspective, a very long while -- for us to learn to contain our decorational impulses. Creativity, we're gradually conditioned to accept, is best confined to paper.
The lesson must be learned, but the learning is sort of sad nonetheless. And it's why I love this desk: a giant Post-it note that exists to be mucked up by random writings and drawings. The work of Lisbon-based designer Miguel Mestre, the desk is so retro that it's actually cutting-edge. Paper is an age-old technology, sure, but paper as desk -- furniture that demands to be doodled on -- seems optimized for our particular moment. Though anything can trigger an idea -- and though we humans have always found ways to be creative no matter what our environment -- inspiration is, more than ever, everywhere. With the always-on Internet, with the radio, with TV and podcasts and ebooks and Twitter, we are in a constant state of latent ingenuity. You never know when your next Brilliant Idea (or your next Kind of Boring But Still Worth Noting Idea) is going to hit you.
Which means that double-duty objects -- objects that are at once things and idea-containers -- make more and more sense. Non-writable surfaces, no offense to them, are wasted surfaces. And designers are manifesting that logic in the furnishings they produce. Take the interior walls of buildings at MIT and Stanford -- and Google and Microsoft and similarly innovation-oriented institutions -- which are often constructed of whiteboards or whiteboard-like surfaces, the better to write down any random thought that pops into people's minds as they walk around or chat with passing colleagues. There's a value to the publicness of the whole thing: Something scribbled on a wall might trigger another idea in someone else. Note said something in your smartphone, though, and the idea's spread is limited.
That put-it-out-there sensibility is making its way into the design choices made on behalf of even those of us who are not MIT scientists or Google engineers. Everyone has stuff worth recording, and smartphones and laptops aren't always the best devices for keeping the record. Sometimes, you just want to doodle. Sometimes, you just want to share. The Post-Itable, though mostly it's just cheeky and fun, also hints at the furniture of the future -- as decoration that exists to contain not just things, but ideas.