LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Suspended Slumber


Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars lifts sleep to new heights with his revolutionary Floating Bed.

Inspired by the mysterious monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey," Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars's Floating Bed beguiles gravity and brings weightless wonderment into the home.

Though "groundbreaking" in every sense, the term sounds strange when describing young Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars's incredible Floating Bed—precisely because the design involves hardly any ground to speak of! Turning the tenets of tradition architecture (literally) upside down, the Floating Bed is the world's first piece of "falling up" furniture, defying gravity and the logic of the built environment, as we know it.

A rectangular sleek, black stab whose form is inspired by the mysterious monolith in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Floating Bed requires no electricity or any other form of energy to stay afloat. Magnets burrowed under the slab and into the floor lift the structure into a permanents state of suspension, while thin steel cables tethered to the floor keep it from drifting out of place. With a floating height of 40 cm and enough power to lift a Sumo wrestling team, the futuristic objet d'art can also double as a suspended sofa for group get togethers, a large banquet table, or lofty display for bedazzling objects.

First showcased this past June at the Millionaire Fair in Belgium as a 1:5 scale model, it attracted much attention, not only for its shocking innovating, but also for its 1.2 million euro price tag. But don't worry about the magnets damaging whatever is left of your buying power once you bring it home—above the slab the magnetic field is negligible and credit card safe.

What is your definition of luxury?
The feeling of exceeding the regular.

If luxury were an object what would it be?
The brain.

If luxury were a person who would it be?
My future girlfriend.

If luxury were a place where would it be?

If luxury were a moment when would it be?
The moment of insight.

What may you decide to create the Floating Bed? Have you always dreamt of bringing weightlessness into the home?
The origin of the Floating Bed lies in gravity dictating the image of architecture. The question was whether one could make a building or respectable piece of furniture where this is not the case. So the dream was to realize this goal.

What were some of the greatest challenges in creating the design?
Not giving up when an engineer or company said it was impossible. A great deal of people have had their share in parts of the development. Different individuals and companies answered specific questions. Since no one offered the complete solution, the greatest challenge was to accept this as a chronological way to get there, by wanting it badly.

How has your work as an architect influenced the design? Had you already experimented with magnets before?
The notion of gravity dictating architecture, no matter where you live, has formed the basis of the Floating Bed. In creating the form and details of the design, my experience as an architect helped to strengthen the image. The mirroring floor for example dramatizes the floating height and results in a Gaudi construction model turned upside down. His models showed the most economic construction for his buildings by showing the reflection of a hanging construction in a mirror. The Floating Bed is twisting this reality upside down.

Please explain the relationship between your design and the monolith in Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey.
Stanley Kubrick and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke use a rectangular monolith to represent the notion of intelligent life. Since animals or nature cannot make a perfect straight line, let alone such a perfect three-dimensional form, I think it was very well chosen.
The shape of the Floating Bed was decided in 2001, which gave it an extra reference. Its most important aspect is its elegant shape. The monolith is a bit longer than twice the width.

Magnets are thought to be therapeutic as well. Does the bed have any special healing powers?
I would be very happy if it did. Scientifically, there is no influence on the human body, and the magnetic field on top of the bed is negligible.

Do you plan on creating any auxiliary floating products to go with the bed?
It is very possible that this will happen in the near future. But it will depend on clients needs. On a small scale it is possible, for example, to create a little floating platform without cables. This could be used as a sort of an occasional table.

Is the magnetic field beneath the bed safe?
The material in our body is not susceptible to these magnetic fields. So animals or human beings, children or adults, without any steel extras in their bodies, have no problem being underneath the bed.

How has the design been received? How many have been sold and what kind of clientele is "attracted" to the design?
The reactions have been tremendous worldwide. All big press agencies have shown interest. Major newspapers, magazines, televisions and radio stations have covered the design since it premiered in June 2006. Currently a big car company from the US has shown interest in the big model and a Museum from the UK has shown interest in the scale model 1:5. A firm order has not reached us yet, but it would be beautiful to sell to a wealthy private person. The official first order will probably generate a lot of publicity as well, and will surely help further sales.

What technology are you interested in right now?
The architecture projects I work on always have their specific demands on technology. Currently I am working on a studio and garage for which a different type of brick-layering system is being researched.

What is your dream project?
Making the Floating Bed as a pavilion and other projects breaking with regular architecture.

Who are your creative icons and sources of inspiration?
Looking at other architects and their works, good or bad, is the best schooling. It is amazing to have your eyes opened and see why Le Corbusier was a great architect. Many aspects of his designs seemed to be little discoveries. Often other people open your eyes to architects, like professors at the University or in my special case my father and architect Hans Ruijssenaars, who is of great inspiration for his focusing on fundamentals in the profession, such as light and gravity. Sometimes discoveries feel like your own, a feeling I have with Marcel Duchamp. He had the same intensity of thought as the above but acted on a more abstract level, taking art away from mere beauty. His biography is in the picture with the floating bed.

What are you working on right now?
An urban project for 200 houses in Renkum, a studio and garage in Arnhem and a nice project in the north of Amsterdam. It is an assignment for a building with different functions. Besides answering to the ambitious clients demands it is in the line of my own interest and current line of research on space and routing in architecture and urbanism.

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