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Brands create experimental living spaces

Recent years have seen youth seek a sense of home through brands’ physical outposts, especially in urban areas, where space and amenities come at a premium. In an extension of this trend, forward-thinking companies are experimenting with spaces that take this concept literally by providing places for consumers to live.

MINI

This summer, MINI demonstrated how its core principle of “creative use of space” could be applied to urban housing with its MINI LIVING installation in Milan. The concept addressed one of the most pressing challenges of urban living—the shortage of attractive, affordable housing—and offered a potential solution in the form of a modern shared-living concept centering on a 30-square-meter apartment that forms part of a micro-neighborhood of similar apartments. As a closed space, MINI LIVING provided occupants with the security of living within their own walls, but since those walls were flexible, the installation blurred the boundary between the private and the communal.

MUJI

Japanese retail company Muji is known for creating products with a minimalist, logo-free aesthetic and its emphasis on avoiding waste in production and packaging. Now, it’s applying these principles to housing with the launch of Window House, a living space designed to create a harmonious balance of natural light and air. The fully functioning prototype comes furnished with Muji products, and the brand is seeking volunteers to live in the home for two years rent-free in exchange for providing detailed feedback about the space. As an added bonus, volunteers will be given free Muji furniture for life.

AIRBNB

Airbnb conceived the Yoshino-Sugi Cedar House in conjunction with Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa as part of designer Kenya Hara’s House Vision exhibition, marking the first time a western brand was invited to showcase. The house explores how architecture can promote new relationships between hosts and guests beyond existing notions of domesticity and ownership. The company aims to prove that the house is more than a physical space; every detail of the structure, from the locally milled wood to the communal dining table, inspires connection to the people of the Yoshino village and their underlying traditions.