From the moment they met at university in Manchester, fellow Architecture students, David ben Grunberg and Daniel Woolfson have been friends. For the past two years, they’ve been partners at D*Haus, a design, architecture and art studio based in London. They came up with the two-year old company’s core concept when David was tasked with designing a pre-fabricated house for his dissertation.
“It needed to withstand the harsh and extreme temperatures of Lapland. Searching for inspiration, I looked at prefabricated furniture and then thought of the original D*Table that my father had designed twenty two years earlier.”
The D*Table is based on a formula perfected in 1903 by mathematician Henry Ernest Dudeney, which allows for a perfect square to be re-arranged into an equilateral triangle by dividing it into four distinct pieces. Hinged together, six different shapes are created.
With his Father’s permission, Grunberg used the theory to create D*Haus, the world’s first prefabricated dynamic house.
“I felt the concept could be applied to architecture and design,creating interesting results.”
And it has. Grunberg and Woolfson are creating 3D tables, light boxes, and gazebos using the formula. The 3D table is a practical work of art with shelves and compartments which open or shut, allowing for different spaces. The tables are made of Corian, a material typically limited to the kitchen, but used in the tables for its seamlessness, mouldability and durability. A timber retail version will be making it on to the high street later this year.
Daniel speaks to their thoughtful, pragmatic approach to design, aimed at fulfilling the needs of a contemporary lifestyle.
“We don’t limit ourselves by a rigid design process. We are passionate about the link between living trends and how this can influence design. For example, nowadays, people change their living arrangements frequently and require flexible spaces that can adapt to suit their needs. Why can’t the furniture we design be flexible as well? By creating flexible pieces, we can challenge the throw-away culture of our society and design products that stay with you for a lifetime.”
But David explains designing pieces not only “built to last,” but also built to adapt, isn’t as simple as a slab of wood and four legs.
“It is definitely more of a challenge to design these items, especially when you add math into the equation. Everything we design has to work in a number of ways. Our designs become parametric in the sense that everything is related to the other. Resolving the details takes a long time and requires a lot of thought but we believe this gives an added value to what we create.”
The D*Haus mentality seems like the perfect antidote to those who design with a capital D, creating frivolous objects singular in their purpose.
David: “We like to have fun when designing, but we try and root our ideas with function in mind. We are fascinated with applying existing technologies to new scenarios, giving them new uses and function.”
Daniel: “Look at the impact the Smartphone has had on society. Now we manage everything in our lives from shopping to holidays on a handheld device. Why can’t other products be as multi-functional? People expect more from design now.”
Going back to their roots, David and Daniel are also focussing on their D*Haus, a metamorphic house, that adapts to different seasons and times of day by moving inside itself. The team are building a mechanical scale model to show later this year. If they can get a manufacturer on board, D*Haus could make architectural history with the most adaptable house ever built. Good, functional design doesn’t get much better than that.