Innovatively Flexible Furniture By Ian Stell

"...Many of Stell's furniture works by being able to retract and extend via nodes at the corners..."

When you think of furniture that has the ability to be flexible and suit different needs on demand, SATORI & SCOUT are pretty sure that the first thing you will probably think of is collapsible seating or dining room tables that can double its surface via hidden-inside table-tops. Such designs were particularly popular in the 1980s – 2000s, and though they certainly have their place in the market with their inherent functional benefits, they’re just not very cool, lets be honest!

Ian Stell, an American product designer from New York City, has created his own interpretation of flexible furniture, except ones that quite literally expand and contract for countless configurations. Wanting to explain the differences with brevity, you could metaphorically consider Stell’s designs ‘analog’ – a sine wave of countless possibilities – whilst all other mass-market and non-flexible furniture designs are ‘digital’ – with only 1’s and 0’s, or only yes’ and no’s, or furniture we can use in its current state versus furniture that is collapsed and therefore unusable.

With his furniture designs a mixture of art and engineering, Stell’s inspiration for many designs was the 16th century pantograph, an instrument that was used for copying and enlarging drawings. The pantograph used a system of hinged and jointed rods in various mechanisms and Stell has interpreted many of the original ideas into the making of tables, seating and mirrors.

Each furniture piece is highly dynamic and Stell exhibited his fine artworks at the New York Design Week 2016. Being able to transform into any configuration that would most suit its user(s)’s needs at any point in time, many of Stell’s furniture pieces work by being able to retract and extend via ‘nodes’ at the corners of each object. Allowing for spatial change, SATORI & SCOUT think that Stell’s ideas really could be taken further – they’re great!

Highlighting the potential of the pieces’ abilities to expand and retract, Stell’s ‘loop tête-à-tête’, for example, is capable of extending from 33 inches wide to a significantly increased 104 inches. Having internal brass pivots that are largely unseen, the design would be absolutely ideal for residences, public places and commercial eatery settings.

Discover more about this project online at

Ian Stell's Works

Other notable works by the designer include a staircase that rises to no-where, various creatively adaptive seating and table designs, and many more...

(Photography Credit :

8.5 Design
9.5 Innovation
7.5 Usability
5 Value

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